Silverware, Kitchen Mixers, and Guy Fieri. Oh My!

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Guy Fieri? What does he have to do with USS Monitor?

Sometimes a random thing will send you down a research path you least expect.

I was sorting through some older files recently, and thinking about where I needed to file them. Exciting, I know. In doing so, I came across a folder that a former volunteer had put together. It contains his thoughts and sketches concerning a wood cabinet that was excavated from the turret in 2002. As I was perusing his drawings about what an intact version of the cabinet may have looked like, I decided to do a quick search on Civil War era silverware cabinets. Which got me thinking about the silverware pieces in the collection, and in particular, a spoon that may have been used for mustard and/or salt by the crew.

I pulled up the record for the spoon in our database and took another look at it. The maker’s mark on the back says “Rogers Bros A1”. We have four pieces of silverware that have their stamp. But, we had no further information in our artifact files. So I wondered, is some form of this company is still in existence now?

Here is the spoon. The pattern is called “Olive”.

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View of the maker’s mark

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We have had some success in finding a few companies that have a Monitor legacy well into the 21st century. It may not be a direct one, but they are out there. For instance, H. R. Worthington was the manufacturer of Monitor’s bilge pumps. Worthington, as a company, has gone through several evolutions and has a modern connection with Curtiss-Wright. We approached them about our efforts to reproduce one of the pumps, and their contributions have been a huge support! You can read about that particular project on the blog here: http://www.marinersmuseum.org/blog/tag/worthington-pump/

Excavating the history of a company on the internet can be quite a process, but I ended up quite successful in a fairly short period of time. I am still compiling data on all the company changes. But I did find it! Hooray!

Rogers Bros. was founded in 1847 in Connecticut by brothers Asa and Simeon Rogers. The company eventually banded with a group of silver and silverplating producers to form the International Silver Company in 1898. In the period since, International Silver was a very stable entity on its own until the 1950s. The company began to diversify and branch out into other markets. By the mid 1980s the International Silver brand was sold off as a subsidiary by what had become its parent company. It has gone through a couple companies and is now under Lifetime Brands.  Who sells brands you are quite familiar with today! Their products might be sitting in your kitchen right now. You might even have silverware with the “IS Rogers Bros.” maker’s mark on them in a drawer. Which means “International Silver Rogers Bros.”, and sometimes other marks were stamped in as well to refer to the quality of silver or silverplate.

Who is Lifetime Brands? Well, if you have any Mikasa, Farberware, KitchenAid, or even Guy Fieri products… then you have something from Lifetime!  You can investigate their product lines at http://www.lifetimebrands.com/Brands/BRANDS,default,pg.html

I’ll be researching some more on our other silverware soon, so stayed tuned for further information. There are six other makers to investigate! I’m learning quite a bit about the history of American silverware and silver plating industries along the way, and really enjoying it. It’s right up there with all the interesting things I know about Papua New Guinea…but that’s a story for another time.

So, we think Guy Fieri should come and do a show here. Don’t you?

He could be an…IRONCLAD CHEF!

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2 thoughts on “Silverware, Kitchen Mixers, and Guy Fieri. Oh My!”

  1. Hi–I am a writer for Silver Magazine, a small bi-monthly pub. available by subscription only. I would be interested in learning more about what backstamps were found on Monitor silverware. Of course I would not want to steal your thunder, but I am equipped to identify most marks from the Civil War period through reference books or specialist colleagues or personal knowledge. If you’d be interested in having an article done (with quotations and credits to your organization), please let me know. The one thing that’s essential is photos. The story would be possible only if something similar has not already been done. One aspect of it might be how you all are using your knowledge of the ship’s structure and layout to figure out where the silver might have been stored–and where/how it might have been used (was there an actual mess on board?).

    Best,
    Pat S.

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