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tline3open  1813 SILVER AD

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Author Topic:   1813 SILVER AD
Richard Kurtzman
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iconnumber posted 02-12-2001 06:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was rearranging my library, when I came across this early silver advertisement which I thought might be of interest. It is for the firm of Davis & Brown, of Boston, from the August 21, 1813 edition of the Boston Columbian Centinal. An interesting aspect of the ad is the information that "Davis & Brown... Have just received from the the Manufactory in Philadelphia, a large assortment of SILVER WARE..." Who was making their silver in Philiadelphia or whose silver were they selling?
If you have any early ads, I would love to see them.

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wev
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iconnumber posted 02-12-2001 07:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
An interesting ad. The earliest reference I find to Davis & Brown is in the Boston Patriot for 3 Nov 1810 and again 27 June 1812, that says in part: ...also of their own manufacture - gold jewelry, gold watch chains, silver plate of every description, spoon ladles, etc., hair work and gold and silver ornaments of all kinds. The Boston Directory for 1813 lists the firm as jeweler/importers. In 1816 the name was changed to Davis, Brown & Company. It has not been established who Davis was, but the other partner was Robert Johnson Brown. In 1820, Davis left the firm and was replaced by Robert Somerby; the Directory of that year lists the opening of a new firm: Robert J. Brown & Co. The partnership was not to last, however. Somerby died in August 1821, followed in September by Brown. It appears that the store was kept open by Brown's widow and the executor of his estate, Nathaniel Williams and prospered. In 1833 Williams recorded an accounting of assets and moneys spent and the name was formally changed to Robert Brown & Son.

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wev
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iconnumber posted 02-13-2001 07:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As it happens, a nice looking Davis & Brown marked spoon on the internet:


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Silver Lyon

Posts: 363
Registered: Oct 2004

iconnumber posted 10-25-2004 02:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Silver Lyon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Undoubtedly, the best guess as to your Philadelphia manufacturer is Fletcher & Gardiner - the whole point of their moving to Pa. (from Boston, where all their contacts were already made) was to set up the biggest manufacturer in America - the whole point of making large pieces and giving them to Presidents and worthies was to further this - and TF went to Europe to learn how best to achieve his object - in some ways he succeeded - but that is another story... and somewhat contentious!!

Don Fennimore wrote his excellent Masters thesis on F&G, which I believe is in the Downes Library at the Henry Francis du Pont museun at Winterthur...

I know that at present this sounds a bit far-fetched... it is a pet theory and may well be nonsense... but I wonder who else in Philadelphia had the size of manufacturer to be shipping goods to so many other centers? Some of TF's diaries and note-books are in the Athanaeum in Philadelphia -good stuff for someone who wants to tell the WHOLE story!! - It is CLEAR from TF's diaries (I have sat and read the ones at the Athanaeum) that they were already doing this sort of business by 1813 - not necessarily spoons - who is to say that the spoon illustrated is not made locally in Boston? - but I bet that the hollow ware they sold was by F&G - the stuff listed in the ad. is all the sort of stuff that they specialized in making!!

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swarter
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iconnumber posted 10-27-2004 01:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
who else in Philadelphia had the size of manufacturer to be shipping goods to so many other centers?

There are numbers of candidates for commercial silver production in Philadelphia. The custom of providing unmarked objects to retailers for them to mark (or already provided with their marks) and resell has made the actual makers' identification difficult. That Philadelphia served as a manufacturing center for the supply of silver products for Baltimore has been discussed and documented in an essay in Jennifer Goldsborough's Silver in Maryland." This subject has arisen within a number of Forum discussions, as well; two such topics deal with a teapot (one pot, two Lowneses) and tongs (Pierced tongs) and include details on tracing products of Philadelphia shops. While a number of shops were involved in this trade, F&G among them, most of the identifiable Philadelphia-originating silver (but not necessarily most of the silver) has been traced to the shop of Samuel Williamson. Many Baltimore silversmiths were trained in Philadelphia, and maintained ties with their former apprentice masters, from whom they also could have obtained finished silver, and whose work consequently might not be readily distinguishable from their own.

Baltimore had a large market for silver and local production could not meet the demand at competitive prices, in large part because of the exorbitant assay tax on locally made silver which pertained from 1814 - 1830, and thus much silver sold in Baltimore during this period as imported from nearby Philadelphia, which had much in common stylistically with Baltimore, but no such assay taxes.

Philadelphia itself was a large silver market, and the additional demand from Baltimore and nearby Wilmington undoubtedly fueled the development of Philadelphia's commercial silver industry. F&G, while a major player, by no means monopolized the trade. A bit later on, another major player, the firm of R&W Wilson, may have eclipsed F&G in volume of production, if not in quality.

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Silver Lyon

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Registered: Oct 2004

iconnumber posted 10-27-2004 08:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Silver Lyon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, but...
  1. R & W Wilson are the logical continuance from Fletcher & Gardiner - their arrival on the scene as major players almost exactly matches the end of F&G... could this be more than a coincidence??
  2. Samuel Williamson whose account books are still extant, half at the Downes Library at Winterthur and the other half nearby (can't remember where -microfilms are available at Winterthur)- pre-dates 1813 as he retires from business before 1814 - although it is clear from these accounts that he is indeed supplying SOME goods to other shops, many to ships captains who act as sort of agents and some a great distance away.

As I read it his is not a big organization -see Masters thesis by Rachel Layton at Winterthur. Williamson has every ambition to become a 'gentleman' (which he does, retiring with enthusiasm to his farm nearby as soon as he perceives that he has enough cash!) - and no great schemes to supply the South East and Coast with mass-produced silver. (Unlike Thomas Fletcher!!) wink


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