Historical Meriden area design (1860-1965)

Emily Hall Tremaine Miller Company Meriden Bradley & Hubbard stand Meriden Wilcox mansion Meriden Napier Company penguin Meriden
Meriden Britannia buffalo hunt sculpture Bradley & Hubbard candlestick holders Meriden Wilcox Silver Plate Co urn Meriden Miller Co Painting toward architecture Burle-Marx Meriden
Philip Johnson facade Miller Company Meriden Wilcox Silver Plate Co tea set Meriden Miller Co Meriden Mondrian International Silver Company theater Hollywood
The works shown above either were made in the Meriden area, or have an association with the area.

Join us in the design discovery
So far, over 25,000 sources have been compiled online, over 4800 museum and historical society objects have been identified and listed to date, and works in over 1000 international exhibitions— since 1851— have been identified.

"It was very unexpectedly finding out about Emily’s work about 10 years ago, buried under thick historical dust, that led me to think, maybe something else a little like this was also happening in Meriden. The results are previewed on this page.

Thank you, Emily. It’s like a dream. It changed so much that I thought I knew about Meriden. I never imagined anything remotely like this, growing up there around 1980. Never. Wow. Now I see it. Now, I finally... know!" — R. J. Preece

Design Meriden at artdesigncafe is the centralized, online disseminator of information focused on historical product design from the Meriden, CT, USA area between 1860 and 1965. Starting in 2016, Design Meriden administered by artdesigncafe took action to unearth this largely hidden design history, connecting notable dots, and spotlighting its unexpected impact 50 and 100+ years later.

Through specialist academic research, communications and this online platform, Design Meriden has helped facilitate a new wave of appreciation, enthusiasm and discovery, from globally to locally. We also actively lobby to make important, rare, historical material far more easily accessible to curators, researchers and enthusiasts— and more easily and widely available via the internet. Join us in the design discovery.

100 years ago Meriden was internationally known as a powerhouse of manufacturing and design, surprisingly small for its output
The 1908 article reprinted below shows the perspective and global reach.

See the article

The fame of Meriden is world wide
Articles manufactured here are to be seen in almost every country

4 July 1908, Meriden Morning Record, p. 7.

The fame of Connecticut as a manufacturing state has spread all over the world and probably no city or town in the commonwealth has done more to make the land of steady habits famous than Meriden. The Silver City is known the world over and yet its silver work is by no means the only thing which has made it famous.

Travelers in all parts of the civilized world have been surprised to find articles manufactured in this city and they have been reminded of the good old Nutmeg state and the Silver City by them. In far off Africa, Japan, China, the islands of the sea, in the harem of the Sultan of Turkey, in fact in almost every imaginable place in the world are to be found articles bearing the name and trade mark of some of the manufacturing firms of this city.

Every traveler who crosses the ocean on the great liners finds on the dining tables silverware made by the local factories of the International Silver Co. The silver services of many battleships also were made here. The Parker gun has proclaimed the fame of Meriden in the wilds of Africa and almost every [country] in the world. Palaces and hotels in every country and even the temple of Jerusalem are lighted with lamps, electric and gas fixtures made by the Bradley and Hubbard [Mfg.] Co. and E. Miller [&] Co.

The cut glass and decorated ware of Meriden [see the Meriden Cut Glass Co. listed below in section D and various companies in section E] may be found on the tables and in the homes of the wealthy and powerful the world over. In the music rooms of the great transatlantic steamers, the palaces of royalty in many countries, and in thousands of the homes of the wealthy and middle class of the people will be found the [Angelus] pianos and the Symphony Pianola and Pianola pianos made by Wilcox & White Co. as well as the orchestral organs manufactured by the Aeolian Co. of this city.

Millions of people are awakened each morning by the silvery call to business of the alarm clocks manufactured by the Charles Parker Co., and thousands of men every day stand at benches where their work is held in vises manufactured by the same company.

The table knives made by the Meriden Cutlery Co. have gone in all parts of the earth and the pocket cutlery manufactured by the Miller Brothers Cutlery Co. are known wherever a pocket knife is used while countless business men and accountants use the pens made in the factory of this company.

Try as one may in travelling the world over to forget Meriden and it is impossible. At every place one stops there will be found some article made here. [Certainly] Meriden is a "little city" but its manufactures have made it like "a city that is set upon a hill", where all may behold and know of it.

100+ years later, we see the impact of Meriden, with its products dispersed in national and global collections, and its documentation dispersed internationally as well. (See the 1908 article as it appeared in the newspaper at Google News.)

Become a part of the design recovery
There are many ways to contribute to the Meriden area product design and technology legacies

See more

> If you are from the Meriden area and any notable information is new, spread the word to a few friends / colleagues. Due to communications challenges for many decades and the specialist nature of design and technology, too many people are unaware of these important legacies!

> Alert artdesigncafe if you have any original documentation (pamphlets, etc.) of the companies; we will ask for scans and, if of interest, help you find a national-level institution to protect the documentation and enable the fastest access for future researchers. Sometimes you can be eligible for a tax deduction and you as a donor can be recorded, or the documentation can be donated in memory of a loved one.

> Many different designs, even individual silver plate items, are of interest to museums across the USA and beyond. For many designs, consider donating them to a museum. (First, you should check auction values; many are listed on the company objects pages below.) Sometimes you can be eligible for a tax deduction and you as a donor can be recorded, or the object can be donated in memory of a loved one. At some museums, it can be arranged that your donated design will be photographed and visible online as part of their museum collection.

> Volunteer time to assist in documentation recovery. This can be done from anywhere. Sometimes university students can receive college credit for an internship. For on-site documentation recovery, we are especially looking for assistance in Meriden and Hartford, CT; Santa Barbara, CA; New York City; Washington, DC; London, England; Paris, France; and Melbourne and Sydney, Australia. Near fluency in French, German, Portuguese, or Spanish adds unique value here.

> For companies and foundations, we offer sponsorship and funding opportunities. Contact artdesigncafe and we will provide more information on how your organization can contribute to the design discovery. In certain ways, artdesigncafe is eligible for American foundation funding.

For more information, please contact artdesigncafe.com via the services page linked above.

Jump to section:

A. Museum exhibitions

From New York to Los Angeles, from London to Lisbon, from Paris to Tokyo to Rio de Janeiro and Melbourne, Australia, historical Meriden area design (and Miller Co. / Tremaine Collection art) has been spotlighted in well over 1000 museum and exposition shows since at least 1851.

> See the historical Meriden design exhibition list. (Scroll to the end for the current and most recent exhibitions.)

> See the former Miller Co. / Tremaine Collection exhibition list. (Scroll to the end for the current and most recent exhibitions.)

B. At auction

Some historical objects related to the Meriden area do rather well at auction. Check out some of the auction results below.

C-G. Historical Meriden area company compilations (designs, catalogues, etc.)

Documentation recovery initiative: Over 25,000 sources compiled online to date. Over 4800 museum objects found and listed.

C. Miller Co. - D. ISC & predecessors - E. Other featured companies - F. Selected architecture and interiors - G. Also, folk art - H. Featured early silversmiths - I. Other makers

D. ISC, predecessors & divisions

E. Other featured companies manufacturing designs - brassware, cutlery, ironware, furnishings, glassware, household products, jewelry, lamps, and silver goods

F. Selected architecture and interiors

  • F.1. Jedediah Wilcox mansion, Meriden
    > design elements & exhibitions | historical information
  • F.2. Philip Johnson, consultant. Rolling Mill facade, Miller Company, Meriden (1965)
    > design and historical information
    > See Tremaine Collection / Miller Company: Artworks and designs for selected historical interior designs at the site, and associated listings
  • F.3. McKim, Mead & White, Home National Bank and Trust Company, Meriden
    > design and historical information

  • G. Folk art

  • G.1. William R. Brinley miniature circus designs, Wallingford / Meriden / Bridgeport (1930s - 2010s)
    > designs, exhibitions | historical information

  • H. Featured early pewter / britannia / silver makers

  • H.1. Clement Beecher (1778-1869)
    > designs and historical information
  • H.2. Ashbil Griswold (1784-1853)
    > designs, exhibitions and historical information
  • H.3. Isaac C. Lewis
    > designs, exhibitions and historical information
  • H.4. W. W. Lyman (1821-1880?)
    > designs, exhibitions and historical information
  • H.5. Hiram Yale, Wallingford (1799-1831)
    > designs, exhibitions and historical information

  • I. Other historical Connecticut area companies to explore

    Brass articles

  • > W. H. Chapman Co. (brass articles)
  • > Peerless Mfg. Company (brass articles)
  • Ceramics

  • > Metallic Potters Co. (unknown output)
  • Currency issued by Meriden bank (c. 1865)

    Industrial design - various


    Lamp shades and leather cases

    Music industry

    Other pewter / britannia / silver makers

    J. Meriden-area historical maps and history books online