History of Reed and Barton
A History of Reed & Barton
Reed & Barton manufacturing company dates back to the founding of a jewelry shop in 1822 in Taunton, Massachusetts by Isaac Babbit. The shop later turned its focus to pewter in 1824, where Babbit worked on innovating his materials and developed Britanna Metal, a combination of tin, antimony and copper, making a material more lustrous and white than pewter. After Babbit gained popularity with his craftsmanship and quality, two designers, Henry Reed and Charles Barton, partnered with the business. The company began to experience hardship and Babbit sold the company and factory in 1834 to Reed & Barton.
Taking their knowledge of crafting and innovation, Reed & Barton produced “in the metal” flatware and holloware, meaning that raw unplated pieces were sold to plating factories. They maintained this practice until the discovery of the Comstock Lode in Virginia City, Nevada in 1859, making silver widely available in raw form in the US.
With their knowledge of creating raw metal goods and recent fame, they soon created and cast the first Reed & Barton sterling pattern, Flora, circa 1890.
A focus towards more sterling patterns in holloware and flatware such as Francis I led them to great success as an American sterling producer. For example, among the most popular patterns was a Francis I sterling silver 7-piece tea and coffee service and tray. Maker’s mark of Reed & Barton, Taunton, Massachusets: Comprising a tea kettle, teapot, coffeepot, cream jug, covered sugar bowl, waste bowl and tray; the tea service pieces with baluster form bodies, chased with fruit, blossoms, and foliage, with cornucopiae enclosing a vacant cartouche on either side, the shaped oval tray with bracket handles and conforming decoration.
In the 1996 Olympics, hosted by Atlanta, Reed & Barton was chosen as the designer and creator of all the medals for the awarded athletes.
Currently, Reed & Barton is known as the oldest independently owned American producer of sterling flatware and holloware patterns. They have expanded into other divisions of tableware including stainless steel, crystal, china and even plastic ware; They are also the world’s largest producer of wooden chests. Despite changes in leadership and economy, living by the motto of high quality pieces and excellent customer service, Reed & Barton has been able to thrive for more than 185 years.
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