Wednesday, April 7, 2010

More From the Centennial Exposition of 1876

This picture from the Centennial Collection shows a piece made by the Middletown Plate Company (they spell it Middleton but the "sic" reveals the misspelling on the information page). I have a deep love affair with the smaller plate companies. First, they were in some cases prolific producers. Second, their silver is less know, thus less collected and therefore more in my price range. Companies like Meriden Silver Company, Reed & Barton and Gorham are great to be sure. They made some beautiful things. However these are well known companies, their catalogs have been archived and they are very collectible. To be frank there is a lot of information about these companies. This information makes it easy for "joe antique" to sell these at high prices.

Other companies such as The Derby Silver Company, Wilcox Silver Company, Forbes Silver Company, Knickerbocker Silver Company, Rockford Silver Plate Company and a host of other smaller companies all made lots of silver plate. Some of it very high quality, some low. There is less information on the whole about these companies. Quite a few of these companies were the founders of, joined, or were brought into the International Silver Plate Company. The International Silver Company was formed in 1899. Some of their brands, styles and marks continued, some abandoned.

Middletown is one such company. I do not think that I had come across it until now. (Usually I find a piece and then look up the company to figure things like age, quality etc. I carry a reference for this around with me).

A quick review of Dorthy T. Rainwater & Martin and Colette Fuller's book Encyclopedia of American Silver Manufacturers 5th edition revealed that Middletown Plate Company was started in 1864.

After joining the International Silver Company many of its marks were used on low end holloware under the mark of Superior Silver Company. And Higher end material was stamped The Middletown Plate Co. Their factory was moved from Middletown to Meriden.

After the move former employees of the Middletown Plate Company, formed the Middletown Silver Plate Company. It lasted from 1899 to about 1910 when they claimed bankruptcy. They reorganized and fought on until about 1939. Rainwater et al. states that they were more than likely merged with the J.A. Otterbein Company. This is now owned by Wallace.

While they were producing they worked under the marks of KirbyKraft (a mark I come across with frequency) MidSilCraft (another mark I often encounter) Cornwall EPNS (which I have never seen) and Middletown Silverware.

You can see the original picture and the accompanying information here.

1 comment:

  1. I have a cup marked "middletown plate co" It is hard to make out but I think "meridian" is the next word. There are two scales. Below that emblem are the words "190", "hard white metal", "gilt"
    What is the metal, what is the gilt and how do I clean this beautiful old goblet. I tried silver polish on the base..worked fine but on the cup part of the goblet..the polish did very little. There is a shine of gold on the trim pattern and interior. Is that the gilt?
    I hope you know more than I do about this. I would like to shine this up but don't want to use the wrong cleaners..