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tline3open  Howard & Co. NY salt & pepper

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Author Topic:   Howard & Co. NY salt & pepper

Posts: 3
Registered: Mar 2006

iconnumber posted 03-17-2006 09:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for humesmail     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I know zero about silver and am hoping someone of you out there can send me in the right researching direction.

I just inherited a set of salt & pepper shakers from the 1800's bought in NYC marked "Howard & Co. New York Sterling 3744" and am told they were custom made as a wedding gift to my great aunt's grandparents.

Where do I start on getting information about the history of Howard & Co. and what these could be worth? Does anyone have a feeling whether it is worth seeking an appraiser?

Thank you.

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Posts: 326
Registered: Oct 2004

iconnumber posted 03-17-2006 10:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for IJP     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Says Brent in the Howard & Co. "Eng'Sterling"thread:
Howard & Co. were primarily retailers of others' silver, and were founded in 1866...Many pieces of New York holloware from this time period will have the retailer's mark, in this case Howard & Co., flanked by the trademarks of the actual manufacturer. You see this on early Tiffany holloware, with Grosjean and Woodward's "G&W" stamp, and later the gothic "M" in oval used by the Edward Moore factory prior to their acquisition by Tiffany.

Given his statement that Howard & Co. were for the most part retailers, I would look closely to see if there appears to be another mark (especially in the vicinity of the retailer's mark). Since you have not mentioned any other word or name stamped on the pieces, keep in mind that this mark, if it exists on your salt and pepper shakers, may be a cipher or symbol. Information on the web, retrieved by a quick search, states that Howard & Co. were active until 1922.

Of course, as per our Guidelines, we cannot and do not discuss the worth or value of items at this forum. It has been suggested in the past that you might keep an eye on the market for similar pieces to see what they are going for. Alternatively, if you must have an appraisal, the SSF does provide information about appraisal services. Keep in mind, however, that appraisals are not free, as the certified appraiser must spend time and effort determining your items' values.

From what I've seen on the web, the goods retailed by Howard & Co. were generally of very high quality, and often quite heavy. Having never handled (to my recollection) any Howard & Co. pieces, I can't be certain, but their goods seem to be every bit as fine as those retailed or produced by top-tier firms like Tiffany. The 619 Broadway address shown in the marks posted at the other Howard & Co. thread are nothing to turn you nose up at, either (Tiffany's firm was located at 259, then 550, at certain points in its history... I imagine a Broadway address was very desirable real estate even back then)... Incidentally, since Tiffany & Co. moved to 550 Broadway in 1853 before moving to Union Square in 1870, it would appear that Tiffany and Howard were little more than a block away from each other for at least several years.

I'm sure we would all love to see your salt and pepper set. Please post an image if you would!

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Registered: Mar 2006

iconnumber posted 03-17-2006 11:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for humesmail     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you for your reply and I am sorry, I certainly did not mean to imply that I wanted to know what you thought they are worth. I am interested in knowing what is the process of researching their history and worth and anyone's opinion if they are of value (historic or otherwise) to warrant the effort of a search for information.

I am attempting to attach a photo of them--(clearly I lack experience in photographing reflective objects--sorry, the best I can come up with). The markings do not have any additional initials as you suggest and I would say that they are not particularly heavy beyond the nature of their form, however, the detail in craftsmanship is can not be appreciated by my poor photos of them. The only other information that I have is that they might have been purchased as antiques in the 1800's from Howard & Co. according to my great aunt. Is that a possibility?

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iconnumber posted 03-17-2006 11:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Generally, salts and peppers are not of particularly interest in their own right. It is the style, the design, the execution that determines this. It is more important that they be in a style than that there are an s & p. The style also allows us to put them into a rough time frame. So, what do they look like?

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Posts: 326
Registered: Oct 2004

iconnumber posted 03-18-2006 02:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for IJP     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Encyclopedia of American Silver Manufacturers, Revised Fourth Edition, by Dorothy T. Rainwater and Judy Redfield:
In addition to producing its own wares, Howard and Co. was also noted for its fine selection of quality antique silver as early as the 1880s... [T]he firm was a leading American dealer in antique English silver at the time.

The above passage would also seem to suggest that the firm actually did a significant amount of its own manufacturing.

It sounds to me like you have some very nice pieces there. There is only one thing that doesn't seem to be clear: At first you said that these items were said to be custom-made for your great-aunt's grandparents (your great-great-grandparents? or other relation?). However, you go on to say that these were also purportedly purchased from Howard & Co. as antiques. "Is that a possibility?" Well, yes, your ancestors could have purchased things from Howard & Co. as antiques, but not if the items were custom made-to-order (of course). If they were sold by Howard & Co. as antiques, I would probably expect them to carry the marks of the silversmith who did make them, and possibly other markings as well (If they were English antiques, for example, I would fully expect assay hallmarks in addition to the maker's mark).

It also occurs to me that anyone with any sense would likely NOT stamp any marks onto an antique item. Today, that sort of act would detract significantly from an item's value. I imagine that 19th century retailers shared the same general feeling.

That said, I am more than certain that your salt and pepper shakers were new at the time of purchase. Howard & Co. were active 1866-1922, which gives you a time-frame to start with. If you know roughly when your great-aunt's grandparents were married, then I would say that is the approximate date of manufacture.

Is it "worth" researching their history, you ask. Why not? That's half the fun, I believe. This is a good place to start, but a little time searching for other similar pieces (on the web, or elsewhere), reading up on the company, studying the markings and comparing them to examples illustrated in books, and (if persons-in-the-know are still living) asking more about your family's history and about your great-aunt's grandparents, seems like hardly "too much" for what seems like a very fun and sentimental project.

[This message has been edited by IJP (edited 03-20-2006).]

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Registered: Mar 2006

iconnumber posted 03-18-2006 10:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for humesmail     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Here is my second attempt to post a photo of these. To clear it up, these were given to me by my father's aunt (married to my grandmother's brother). The shakers were a wedding present given to her grandparents in the 1800's and were said to have been custom made (not necessarily for them) and purchased in NYC, possibly already antiques at the time of purchase. There are no other markings, so from what you are saying, it sounds like they were indeed made by Howard & Co.

Thank you both for all the information, I can not wait to share it with my family at Easter dinner. And yes, they are already "worth" a lot to me.

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