Last Honors Paid to Edward Holbrook.
Many Friends and Business Associates Gather at Bier of Silver Trades
Great Captain of Industry -- His Successful Career.
STAMFORD, Conn., May 25. - Friends and relatives from every walk of life and delegations from all sections of the jewelry trade gathered here yesterday at Strawberry Hill, the Summer home of the late Edward Holbrook, to pay their last honors to the deceased. The funeral services were held shortly after the arrival of the 10.50 train from New York.
The esteem, the honor, the love in which the late head of the Gorham Co. and the directing force of the Silversmiths Co. was held, in personal, in social and business circles, was apparent by the deep sorrow manifest by all those who had come to pay this tribute to him and his memory.
Of course, the largest delegation was that from the Gorham plant at Providence. which consisted of more than 50 of the directors, foremen and department heads of the institution, but others came from sections as far west as Chicago. Among the jewelry firms from out of town that were represented were the Philadelphia h 0 use s of Bailey, Banks & Biddle Co. by S. Jaqueue, and J. E. Caldwell & Co. by J. Emott Caldwell and Charles W. Oakford; the Chicago houses of Spaulding & Co. by Henry C. Tilden, C. D. Peacock, Inc., by Walter J. Buffington, and Benjamin Allen & Co. by Benjamin Allen; the New York concerns of Tiffany & Co. by H. H. Treadwell, Black, Starr & Frost by Fred W. Bray, Dominick & Haff by H. B. Dominick, Carter, Gough & Co. by W. T. Gougb, Brand-Chatillon Co. by George A. Brand and Alfred J. ChatilIon, Larter & Sons by H. C. Larter, THE JEWELERS' CIRCULAR PUBLISHING Co. by Vincent S. Mulford. while R. Stanley Sanderson represented the Goldsmiths' & Silversmiths' Co. of Detroit, and Charles Mundy, William Wise & Son of Brooklyn, Millard F. Davis of Wilmington, Del., were also present. George Welts, president of the Whiting Mfg. Co., headed a delegation from that concern, as did S. D. McChesney, president of the William B. Kerr Co.; H. A. MacFarland, president of the Mount Vernon Co. Silversmiths, Inc., and Charles Siegman, manager of the Silversmiths Co., New York city.
Outside of the Gorham delegation from Providence the concern was represented from New York by E. J. Dingee, head of the wholesale department; Robert Loch, head of the retail department, and J. D. Little, manager of the Maiden Lane store, as well as E. Paul Staunton, the Philadelphia agent.
Among those in the Providence delegation were the following directors of the Gorham Mfg. Co.: Herbert J. Welts. Frank W. Matteson, Henry S. Sprague. Russell Grinnelt, Robert L. Knight, Alfred K. Potter and Secretary William S. Stone.
But it was not the array of names of those present that made the services impressive. It was the fact that Mr. Holbrook's personality had stamped its impress upon hundreds of people of high and low degree to such extent that they showed in his passing they had lost a personal friend and adviser; and, incidentally, that the jewelry and silver trade had lost a man whose vision and dynamic force had created some of its greatest working institutions-a man whose power had been used for the good and uplift of the industry.
The simple yet impressive ceremonies were followed by the interment of the remains in Mount Auburn Chapel, Mount Auburn. Mass.
The factory plants in Elmwood and Phillipsdale, R. I. as well as the offices in New York, were closed during the time of the funeral and interment.
A brief sketch of Mr. Holbrook's career appeared with a notice of his death published in the last issue of THE JEWELERS' CIRCULAR. A more detailed account of his life and his work in the jewelry trade is contained in the following dispatch from Providence:
PROVIDENCE, R. I., May 24.-Edward Holbrook, as president of the Gorham Mfg. Co., as well as president of The Silversmiths Co. (the holding corporation of a large number of manufacturing silverware concerns of this country), had for more than a quarter of a century been the leader and dominant influence in the silverware industry of America.
He had been in failing health since early in January, but the announcement of his death was unexpected as the seriousness of his condition was not generally known beyond the members of his family, business associates, and immediate circle of friends.
At the time of the annual corporation meeting of the Gorham Mfg. Co., at the offices of the factory in this city, on March 12, Mr. Holbrook was absent for the first time in a number of years but no intimation was given of the critical condition of his health.
For many years Mr. Holbrook had personalty carried the strain of the management of his varied and increasing business affairs, having an active and intimate knowledge of every detail. Of recent years, however, he has had associated with him his son, John S. Holbrook, who became vice-president of the Gorham Mfg. Co. in 1906 and who has gradually been assuming the executive management of the various enterprises. To Mr. Holbrook, more than to any other individual must be given the credit for the vast growth and expansion of the Gorham Mfg. Co. The splendid manufacturing plant in the Elmwood section of this city, with its thousands of square feet of factory space and its great labyrinth of workshops. forges and furnaces, is a fitting memorial to his business sagacity and foresight as welt as his great executive ability. His business career furbishes a striking compendium of American possibilities. He rose from the position of a shop boy and salesman to the head of one of the largest concerns in the industry, in the development of which he was a most potent factor; and thence to the control of a bolding corporation which owns the greater part of the important concerns of this country manufacturing flat and hollow silverware.
Edward Holbrook was a native of Massachusetts, was born in the town of Bellingham, on June 7, 1849, and was the son of Eliab and Julia F. (Morse) Holbrook. His early education was obtained through the medium of the old-time district schools of that day. After the limited preparation afforded by the somewhat meagre curriculum the boy decided to learn the jewelry business. He proceeded to Boston and before he was 17 years old had taken his first position which was with the firm of Bigelow Bros. & Kennard, (now Bigelow, Kennard & Co.), the largest retail jewelers in that city. Here, during the next four years he learned both the silverware and jewelry trades, devoting himself assiduously to mastering all the rudimentary details so that the success he afterwards achieved was foreshadowed by the great aptitude he displayed while still in his teens.
At this early period in his life Mr. Holbrook, recognizing the great possibilities awaiting development in the silverware trade decided to devote his energies in that direction rather than along the lines of the jewelry industry. Desirous of a broader field than was offered at Boston, in which to practically demonstrate his ideas, he resigned his position with Bigelow Bros. & Kennard and in 1870, when only about 20 years of age, went to New York securing a position with the sales forces of the Gorham Mfg. Co. For the next few years Mr. Holbrook traveled throughout the various sections of the country and during that time became personally acquainted with the leading concerns in both the silverware and jewelry trade of the United States.
The Gorham Mfg. Co. was, at that time, just beginning to attain the prominence as a manufacturing silverware house that it has since maintained. Mr. Holbrook entered upon his new duties and responsibilities zealously and full heartedly, and his keen business acumen, executive abilities and energies soon attracted the attention of those in authority. These traits, together with his sympathetic artistic temperament, at an early date made him a dominant factor not only in the wonderful development that the Gorham Mfg. Co. has since attained but in that of the entire silverware industry.
In 1876, when Caleb Cushing Adams relinquished the management of the New York branch of the concern, Mr. Holbrook, although only 27 years of age, was elected as agent and in 1882 became a director of the corporation. It was under his regime as New York agent that the Gorham Mfg. Co. made its greatest advancement in the development of the silversmithing industry and his business associates of later years do not hesitate in saying that had it not been for him the Gorham Mfg. Co. would not have advanced from the position of being one of many concerns, to that of one of the largest and most important leaders in the silverware manufacturing trade, not only of this country but of the entire world.
In connection with his early successes, it is told that he obtained his first notable recognition through securing the order from the old Palace Hotel in San Francisco, when the original hotel first opened for the entire outfit of silverware, which for those days was considered a most elaborate and expensive equipment. A few years later, on May 4, 1888, he was elected treasurer and in 1894, when the late William H. Crins resigned as president after 15 years' incumbency, he was succeeded by Mr. Holbrook, who retained the office until his death. His only other predecessor in this office was the late John Gorham. On Dec. I, 1918, Mr. Holbrook relinquished the office of treasurer being succeeded therein by Alfred K. Potter.
At the time that Mr. Holbrook assumed the management of the Gorham Mfg. Co. and became its dominant influence, the concern was doing a comparatively small business. Under his guidance and management it rose gradually, steadily and consistently until it is today the largest silver manufacturing concern in existence. Under his sagacious direction the company developed, not only along the lines of gold and silver work but also in other metals, in electroplate, hotel and commercial wares, bronze statuary, tablets and memorials, ecclesiastical goods including stained glass windows, and in architectural and structural bronze.
Mr. Holbrook was a frequent visitor at the company's plant in this city and devoted much of his time and attention to the mechanical and designing departments, so that it may fairly be said that he had a personal and intimate practical acquaintance with every detail of the vast and expanding organization which he controlled for so many years. As the business grew the capital was increased from time to time and later, in 1907 Mr. Holbrook organized The Silversmiths Co. which bought out one by one, many of the large and leading manufacturing concerns in the silverware trade of the United States, thus becoming a powerful holding company.
The Silversmiths Co. was a creature of Mr. Holbrook's own conception and with its authorized capital of $14,000,000, resulted in the stabilization of the silverware manufacturing interests throughout the country. He was its first president and continued to hold that office at his death. Among the concerns absorbed and now subsidiary thereto, were the Whiting Mfg. Co. of Bridgeport, Conn.; the William B. Durgin Co. of Concord, N. H.; the William B. Kerr Co., Newark, N. J.; the Mauser Mfg. Co. (now the Mount Vernon Co., Silversmiths, Inc.) of Mount Vernon, N. Y., and others, as well as the Gorham Mfg. Co. Mr. Holbrook was the dominant influence in the organization of this great holding corporation and remained its active and controlling spirit in all its operations until his death.
Ever since the Centennial Exposition of 1876, at Philadelphia, when the Gorham Co. participated in the first industrial exhibition of international character ever held in America, the concern has been represented conspicuously at all of the recurring world's fairs, here and abroad. During Mr. Holbrook's administration these exhibits were enlarged and intensified so that they commanded the admiration of the world. A silver statue of Christopher Columbus. cast in solid silver for the Columbian Exposition at Chicago in 1893, was a world renowned figure. A bronze replica of it now stands in Columbus Sq., Providence, within sight of the company’s plant at Elmwood.
At the Paris Exposition of 1900 the French Government bestowed upon Mr. Holbrook the decoration of the Legion of Honor in recognition of his distinguished services to the cause of art. At the St. Louis fair 1904, one of the prominent articles of the Gorham exhibit was a desk made out of silver, valued at $25,000 and other was a tea set valued at $10,000. At the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, 1915, at San Francisco the company exhibit was estimated as valued at $50,000.
With his usual farsightedness, at the outbreak of the Great World War, Mr. Holbrook directed the equipment of a new addition to the Elmwood plant so as to supply certain munitions to the Allied Governments, and on the entry of the United States into the conflict, he developed the resources of the company to a tremendous extent and directed the production of a large number of different munitions for the United States Government.
Besides the additions to the Elmwood plant, a large property on Eddy St., this city was purchased and a new plant for the assembling and loading of hand grenades was erected at Phillipsdale, in East Providence. The company produced, under his direction, for the United States Government, several million dollars worth of war material in these two new plants, as well as at the Elmwood plant, even the silver shops of the latter establishment being transformed in-so-far as they could be for government service. Their product consisted of brass cases for the French 75 mm. guns, 4-inch 50 caliber cases for the Naval Destroyer guns, Stokes Trench Mortar Bombs, hand grenades (assembling and loading), airplane bomb sights, and a host of smaller and less important munitions, as well as surgical instruments etc.
Mr. Holbrook married Feb. 18, 1874, Miss Frances Swift, who with two children, John S. Holbrook of Providence and Madame Lilian de Balincourt, of Paris, France, survive him. John S. Holbrook was elected director of the Gorham Mfg. Co. in 1905 and vice president in 1906.
Mr Holbrook's home was at No. 6 E. 52nd St. New York city, but his business interests were widespread. He acquired large real estate holdings in New York, including the Frances building, at the southeast corner of Fifth Ave. and 53rd St. ; and elsewhere and entered the financial world as well as being a member of a number of bank and industrial directorates in both cities. He was the first president of The Silversmiths Co. of New York city and continued in the office from its organization, and was a director of all its subsidiaries. He was president and a director of the Maiden Lane Realty Co. of New York, which erected The Silversmiths building extending from Maiden Lane to John St., wherein are located the down-town salesroom of the Gorham Mfg. Co. and the entire building is occupied by jewelry concerns. Here are also located the offices of the National Jewelers Board of Trade, the Jewelers 24-Karat Club and other jewelry interests.
He was also a director of the American Brass Co. of Waterbury, Conn.; the Hanover National Bank of New York; the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.; Spaulding & Co., leading retail jewelers, Chicago; the Rhode Island Hospital Trust Co. of Providence; the Hotel Biltmore and Hotel Commodore, both of New York city; the General Fire Extinguisher Co. of Providence and trustee of the Garfield Safe Deposit Co. of New York and a director of a number of other concerns. He was also at various times connected with the Garfield National Bank of New York and the Merchants National Bank of New York.
His club affiliations were with the Union Cub of New York, the Union League Cub of New York and the Hope Cub of Providence.
At a meeting of the Board of Directors of the Hanover National Bank of the City of New York, held May 20, the following resolutions were unanimously adopted:
"Whereas, The directors of the Hanover National Bank of the City of New York having learned of the sudden death on the 19th instant of their much esteemed associate on the board, Edward Holbrook, and desiring to place on record a minute testifying to the great respect in which he was held by his fellow directors, and their Sincere sorrow and regret for his death, it is
"RESOLVED: That, in the death of Edward Holbrook the Hanover National Bank has lost a most valuable director. During a business career extending over half a century he had achieved an exceedingly prominent position among the merchants of the city and a reputation for strict integrity, business sagacity and public spirited action second to none. He gave to the bank the benefit of his long mercantile experience and large acquaintance with affairs, and, although a member of the board for a comparatively brief period, he had endeared himself to his colleagues more and more by his kindly personality. His rugged honesty of purpose and great wisdom commanded the respect of all who knew him. In the intimate relations that exist between the directors and officers of the bank, Edward Holbrook enjoyed the largest measure of confidence, and he will be greatly missed from day to day as matters arise in the routine of the bank concerning which his advice will be needed, and
"RESOLVED: That, as a lasting reminder of the very high regard in which Edward Holbrook was held by all the members of the board, of their appreciation of the valuable services that he rendered to the bank as a director, and of their deep sorrow for his death, it is ordered that an engrossed copy of these resolutions be prepared and forwarded to the bereaved family."
Edward Holbrook was born in Bellingham, Massachusetts. June 7th. 1849; son of Eliab and Julia F. (Morae) Holbrook. He was educated in his native town. and at the age of seventeen started in the silverware and jewelry business. His first position was with the house of Bigelow Brothers & Kennard, the largest retail jewelers in Boston. Here he learned both the jewelry and silver trade. and. four years later. in 1870. he accepted a sales position with the Gorham Company. He entered upon his duties full heartedly and his inherent business and executive ability soon lifted him out of his position of salesman and made him a great factor in the development of the business.
He traveled for his employers for a few years. becoming personally acquainted with the leading firms in the jewelry and silver trade throughout the country. It is said that he obtained his first great advantage as a result of able salesmanship in selling the silverware for the old Palace Hotel in San Francisco when the original hotel first opened. It was considered a great event in those days of the silverware business. His business associates of later years do not hesitate to say that. had it not been for him. the Gorham Company would not have advanced to its present position of prominence in the silver manufacturing trade. Later he succeeded Caleb Cushing Adams as the manager of the New York branch of the concern; in 1888 he was elected treasurer, and in 1894 succeeded William H. Crins as president of the corporation. retaining that office until his death. His only other predecessor in this office was John Gorham.
As the business of the Gorham Manufacturing Company grew, the capital was increased from time to time, and Mr. Holbrook later organized the Silversmiths Company, which bought out, one by one, many of the leading concerns of the country, including the Whiting Manufacturing Company, the William B. Durgin Company, Goodnow & Jenks, the William B. Kerr Company, the Mauser Manufacturing Company, and others, Mr. Holbrook remaining throughout the dominating influence in all this work. This organization has resulted in stabilizing the silverware manufacturing business all over the country.
Mr. Holbrook's interest along the artistic side of the work of the Gorham Manufacturing Company was so great that, in 1905, the members of the designing department presented him a most beautifully illuminated set of resolutions in honor of his devotion to the silversmiths' art in general, his lifelong appreciation and love for the beautiful in silverware, and the encouragement they had received at his hands. The Gorham Manufacturing Company's building in Fifth Avenue, New York, is really a monument to Edward Holbrook. His genius determined the site and selected the architect, and he was interested and very active all through the building of the establishment, and practically directed every detail of the construction.
The Gorham Manufacturing Company was always a prominent representative at the World' s Fairs. During Mr. Holbrook's administration these exhibits have been enlarged and intensified, so that they easily have been the most elaborate and beautiful in the silversmiths department. The Gorham Manufacturing Company exhibited at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876 for the first time, receiving a gold medal and other awards. In 1889 exhibited in Paris; in 1893 at Chicago; Paris in 1900. and at various other expositions. notably Buffalo. Charleston. St. Louis. Alaska-Yukon. and the PanamaPacific.
The Gorham Manufacturing Company won the Grand Prize at the Panama Pacific International Exposition at San Francisco. At the Paris Exposition in 1900. the French Government bestowed upon Mr. Holbrook the decoration of the Legion of Honor in token of his distinguished services to the cause of Art.
At the outbreak of the World War Mr. Holbrook's sympathies were with the Allies. and under his leadership and direction the Gorham Manufacturing Company became interested in war work in 1915. starting with a small contract for the Government of Servia. and following this by building a plant for the manufacture of brass cases for the French 75 MM. gun. This plant was developed to manufacture in addition. Russian and Swiss cases. When America entered the war the facilities of this plant were turned over to the United States Government to manufacture the 3-inch Navy Landing gun case. the 3-inch Army Field gun case and upon the adoption by the United States Army of the 75 MM. gun the plant was pushed to the limits of production for the French 75 MM. cases. In addition, under the impetus of the United States entering the war. Mr. Holbrook directed the purchase of another plant in Providence for the manufacture of the 4-inch 50- calibre Navy gun case and the Stokes 3-inch French mortar bombs. Moreover, property was acquired in East Providence. R. I. for the manufacture and loading of hand grenades, loading of the Stokes bombs and a large part of the silver plant was turned into the manufacture of munitions of war. The patriotic spirit of Mr. Holbrook inspired him to take active participation in these extensive preparations, and the additional duties and responsibilities connected therewith were in a large measure responsible for his death.
Mr. Holbrook was the first and only president of the Silversmiths Company, and was a director of all its subsidiaries. He was a director of the American Brass Company, the Hanover National Bank, of New York, the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, Spaulding & Company, of Chicago; president and director of the Maiden Lane Realty Company; director of the Rhode Island Hospital Trust Company, the General Fire Extinguisher Company, the Beau-Site Company and the Bowman Hotel Corporation of New York. He was also a trustee of the Garfield Safe Deposit Company. He was a member of the Union and Union League Clubs of New York, the Hope Club, of Providence; the New England Society of New York, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
He married, February 18th, 1874, Frances, daughter of John J. and Mary A. Swift, of Boston, and had two children: John Swift Holbrook, a skilled landscape architect, and now president of the Gorham Manufacturing Company, and Madame Guillaume de Balincourt, of Paris, France.
Mr. Holbrook died May 19th, 1919. His was a life of lofty aspiration and noble purpose, full of well directed energy and splendid achievement. He was a man of large vision, which took in great plans, and there was nothing too vast for him to grasp and undertake to perform. His commanding presence and intellectual grasp of details necessary for the promotion of great business enterprises gained the attention and won the esteem of men of prominence and influence everywhere.
He had the happy faculty of making friends among men of all classes wherever he went. His ready comradeship made him popular with those in his employ. He was generous. liberal minded. and his sympathetic heart found interest in every movement for the good of humanity. The call of the public and charitable enterprises never found him lacking in response. He was dignified. without suggestion of pride or ostentation; his many sterling qualities of mind and heart will ever remain an abiding inspiration.