Wallace, Simpson & Co., 1869 - R. Wallace & Sons Mfg. Co., 1919
Among the well known silver plate manufacturing companies that trace their history back over a period of 50 years or more is that of R. Wallace & Sons Mfg. Co., Wallingford, Conn. This house was founded by Robert Wallace in 1835, the business at that time being conducted solely by himself. Later as the business increased a partner was taken and the firm became known as Robert Wallace & Co. The business was conducted under this name until 1865, when it, having become greatly enlarged, the capital stock which had heretofore been very small, was increased to $100,000 and the name Wallace, Simpson & Co. taken.
In 1871 Mr. Wallace purchased the interest of his individual partner, Mr. Simpson and with his two sons formed the new company, R. Wallace & Sons Mfg. Co. On the formation of this new concern other lines were added, the principal being that of sterling flatware and hollow ware. The business of Mr. Wallace and his associates had been theretofore entirely that of making German silver flatware, of which from 1835 until Jan. 1, 1897, over 5,000,000 dozen were manufactured. Of this enormous amount of spoons, forks, etc., not a single piece bore the Wallace name or trade mark, these goods having been made for other firms.
Under the careful management of Mr. Wallace and his successors the factory gradually grew until it now stands in the front ranks of spoon and flatware manufactories of to-day, employing many hundreds of hands and with a daily capacity of over 3,000 dozens of spoons, forks, etc., of this grade, and sterling silver spoons, forks, etc. Such was the growth of the small workshop with a capacity of but a few dozen spoons a day and these wrought with much labor and expense.
Robert Wallace, the founder of the German silver flatware industry of the United States, was born in Prospect, Conn., Nov. 13, 1815. The earlier part of his life was spent on his father's farm, until about 1831, when he became an apprentice to the art of making Britannia and pewter spoons. In 1833, when he was but 18 years of age, he hired an old grist mill in Cheshire, Conn., and began the manufacture of spoons on his own account. In 1835, when he had been in his small factory about a year he was shown by one of his patrons in New Haven, a spoon that was made of a metal new to both of them. It was called German silver. Dr. Feuchtwanger, an analytical chemist, was known to have brought a small bar of this metal from Germany. Mr. Wallace succeeded in purchasing this bar and carrying it to Waterbury, had it rolled and from the sheet made four dozen spoons. While in Waterbury he met a gentleman who had recently come from England and who had brought with him the receipt for making German silver. Mr. Wallace purchased the receipt and at once procured the necessary ingredients.
At about this time he moved his primitive factory from Cheshire to Wallingford, and there prepared to manufacture spoons and other flatware on a more extensive scale. Having then acquired all the ingredients required for making the German silver and having become settled in his new quarters he at once proceeded with the compounding of the metal.
Thus at Wallingford, under the personal supervision of Mr. Wallace, was made the first German silver or nickel silver manufactured in this country. Mr. Wallace was connected with the active management of the factory until the time of his death, which occurred Jan. 1, 1892.
The New York office of the concern was first opened at 23 Park place. This office was later moved to 226 Fifth St., then to 11 W. 32nd St., and is at present at 411 Fifth Ave. The Chicago office is at 10 S. Wabash Ave.
The officers and directors of the concern are president, F. A. Wallace; secretary, H. L. Wallace, treasurer; C. W. Leavenworth.
Source: The Jewelers' Circular - 5th February 1919