If you know your silverware, you've heard Rogers Brothers more than once, or 1847 Rogers Bros as the name is often known. What exactly is this company and what makes their silverware so popular?
First, some clarification: Many companies used the Rogers name so people looking back at 20th-century silver making can easily get confused by the major players who shared the same company name. Rogers Brothers Silver goes back to the early 19th century when, in 1847, the company became a household name when it perfected a process for electroplating silver.
The Meriden Britannia Company scooped up Rogers Brothers Silver in 1862. Meriden, in turn, then segued to be the International Silver Compan, a name it carried since 1898. International Silver continues to produce Rogers Brothers Silver.
A key note: 1847 Rogers Bros. doesn't refer to when those items were made, but when the company was founded.
What is electroplating?
The Rogers boys harnessed a process called electroplating to create fine pieces of silverplate and silverware. Electroplating is the use of electricity and an electrolyte, such as a cyanide solution, to cause tiny particles of silver to stick to a metal surface. The metal base is usually copper.
The electroplating process runs until a decent amount of coating of silver is built up, usually thousands of an inch thick. The coating is thick enough to be permanent and to allow the incising of often intricate designs.
To get a comprehensive (if not hilarious) look at the designs from Rogers Bros., check out this marketing footage below, from the 1960s:
Now THAT takes us back! But gives you a solid idea of the type of silverware designs the company was trying to bring to market.
Rogers Bros. silverware often boasted floral designs accented by sophisticated-looking flairs along the handle. Some designs included scrollwork, ornamental busts and dancing figures.
The Saratoga, Newport, Princess, Imperial and Crown patterns featured more contemporary images of wealth and luxury.
The 1847 Girl
Advertisign acumen seemed to be in the blood of Rogers Bros. marketing teams. In 1912, Rogers Brothers created the 1847 Girl, a nostalgic echo of mid-19th century innocence and beauty. Stella Brooks of Meriden, Connecticut, was the inspiration for a series of busts and full-length figures that found its way into hundreds of magazine ads, postcards, and brochures for decades.
"Grace of design" was often used in Rogers Bros ads and you can see why they stressed that descriptor: silverware owners wanted elegant dinner utensils and plates that could make them seem well-positioned in life. And those ads concisely conveyed that message.
Value of Rogers Bros. silverware
Due to the company's popularity, you won't find high prices for silverware reselling on sites like eBay. They were as common as radios in many homes.
But if you have any Rogers Bros. silverware, look for an additional "IS" mark after the Rogers name on the backs of spoons and forks. That stands for International Sterling. Real sterling silver is marked with the word "STERLING" or the number 925, for the 92.5 percentage of silver required for the sterling designation. This marking means the pieces were made after the International Silver Co. bought Roger Bros., which may hurt their value.
As for identifying the date of silverware, an elaborate design indicates that the piece was made before 1900, according to some reports. After Rogers Bros. was bought in 1898, the International Silver Co. simplified the design on all silver pieces.
Also, look for specific patterns on the silverware. For instance, a popular piece manufactured in the 1930s features a design with interlocking rectangles.
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