In 1815, Robert Wallace was born to a family of silversmiths from Scotland. During the late 18th century, the Wallace family relocated to the state of Connecticut. At the age of 16, Robert Wallace became an apprentice to Captain William Mix, a renowned spoon maker for the Meriden Britannia Co. A Meriden Britannia apprenticeship was highly sought after because the firm was the most successful flatware and hollowware producing firm in the Northeast. Meriden Britannia opened in 1808 and produced flatware and hollowware pieces using a metal alloy similar to pewter. The Meriden Britannia Co. would later purchase the rights to the 1847 Rogers Bros. backstamp and would itself ultimately be absorbed into what is now International Silver.
Having mastered the art of silver craft, Robert Wallace left his apprenticeship, purchased a dilapidated grist mill, and began to produce his own flatware. By 1833, Wallace’s silver shop was up and running. Because Wallace was skilled in the art of spoon making, Wallace’s only product was spoons. One day, while shopping in New York, Wallace happened upon a piece of flatware made of a nickel alloy that had been produced by Dixon and Sons of Sheffield, England. Impressed by the quality and strength of the piece, Wallace purchased the alloy formula from a German chemist for twenty dollars. Wallace realized the importance of diversifying his business and began producing a complete range of flatware using the nickel alloy formula.
For the next five decades, Wallace did contract work producing flatware for a number of firms throughout the world. Wallace would sign a contract with a flatware manufacturer and produce a given piece for a set number of years. Generally, these contracts lasted about 10 years. During this period, Wallace produced flatware for such firms as Hall, Elton & Co., Fred R. Curtiss Co., and Meriden Britannia Co. In 1855, Wallace partnered with Samuel Simpson to produce German flatware. During this period, the company was called R. Wallace and Co. Later, Wallace would partner with a group of managers with the Meriden Britannia Co. At this point, Wallace’s company was named Wallace, Simpson, and Co. By 1871, Wallace had purchased the balance of his partner’s shares and the growing company was named R. Wallace and Sons Mfg. Co.
Having incorporated his two sons into the business, Wallace produced his first three flatware patterns,
. In 1871, a new company was formed under the leadership of Wallace’s sons. The new company, Wallace Brothers, produced silverplated flatware on a base of stainless steel. By 1879, Wallace Brothers was merged with R. Wallace and Sons Mfg. Co. Over the next century, the company continued to grow. Wallace and Sons Mfg. Co. invested heavily in new machinery and skilled artisans.
The 1930’s were spent perfecting R. Wallace Mfg. Co.’s mass production techniques. Following the company’s aggressive expansion, it released a series of flatware patterns that would prove to be its most popular.
Rose Point (1934),
Sir Christopher (1936),
Grande Baroque (1941),
Grand Colonial (1942), and
Romance of the Sea (1950) combine timeless elegance with the quality craft for which Wallace is known. Each of these patterns remains Wallace’s most popular.
By 1955, R. Wallace and Sons Mfg. Co. had acquired and merged with a number of smaller firms. Such producers as Tuttle Silver, Smith and Smith, and The Watson Co. were incorporated into Wallace’s business. In 1956, R. Wallace and Sons Mfg. Co. relocated to the The Watson Co.’s Wallingford, Massachusetts factory. After the company’s relocation, its name became Wallace Silversmiths. In 1959, Wallace Silversmiths was acquired by the Hamilton Watch Co. Over the next three decades, the ownership of Wallace Silversmiths would change three more times. Today, Wallace continues to produce sterling, stainless, and silverplate of exceptional quality. Since 1986, Wallace Silversmiths has remained a holding of the Syratech Corporation.
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