Julius Pratt & Company / Pratt, Read & Company design in collections and exhibitions, and historical information

ADC staff
artdesigncafé - design | Design Meriden | 18 December 2018 | Updated 20 April 2019
Julius Pratt ivory


"... Julius Pratt & Company, successor to Howard Pratt & Co., became the leader in the comb industry. To this plant the great elephant tusks, weighing from 60 to 80 pounds apiece, were brought to be processed into combs in about 20 operations. Blanks were fed to automatic machines which stamped out the combs complete. In the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. is a solid ivory cane with gold mountings [shown in photo above] made by Julius Pratt & Co. and presented by the firm to President John Quincy Adams.

The plant of Walter Webb & Co., at first in Crow Hollow and later at Hanover, was a Pratt auxiliary, with purchases and sales for a joint account... At one time, three fourths of the ivory combs made in America were turned out by the Pratt interests... Julius Pratt & Co. [also] made bone handles for [table cutlery]... Walter Webb & Co. at Hanover acquired the process [to produce table cutlery], and the firm of Pratt, Ropes, Webb & Co. was formed in 1845 to turn out the product. Ten years later, the Meriden Cutlery Company was organized to continue with the line, and bone-handled table cutlery remained an important Meriden product for a long period..." (In Wendover, Sanford H. (1956). 150 years of Meriden, pp. 82-84. See entry below.)


A. Julius Pratt & Company / Pratt, Read & Company designs in collections


Info/photo status: = info and photo online
= info online, no photo
= completely offline


1840s

1844 - Right to Petition Cane

Julius Pratt & Company for John Quincy Adams. (1844). Right to Petition Cane. Ivory, gold and silk. (ID number: PL.016155. Viewed 18 December 2018. J00237).


B. Julius Pratt & Company / Pratt, Read & Company in exhibitions


1850s

1851 - Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, London

1 May - 15 October 1851. Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, Crystal Palace, London, England.

> Unspecified designs exhibition by "Julius Pratt & Co., ivory veneer", prize medal recipient.

  • For documentation, see historical section below.


1860s

1865 - American Institute Fair, New York

12 - 19 October 1865. American Institute Fair, New York.

> Exhibited by Pratt, Read & Company: "a superior case of ivory goods— silver medal".

  • For documentation, see historical section below.


1870s

1876 - Pratt, Read & Co. in Centennial International Exhibition, Philadelphia

10 May - 10 November 1876. Centennial International Exhibition, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

  • For documentation, see historical section below.



This compilation, with a Meriden-area focus, stops at 1876 with regard to the historical work as the Meriden operations ceased in 1871.



2000s

2000 - National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

c. November 2000. The American Presidency exhibition / exhibit at National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

> Exhibited Right to Petition cane by Julius Pratt & Company.

  • For documentation, see historical section below.



See our Design Meriden compilation listing over 1000 exhibitions since 1851, featuring historical design associated with the Meriden area.



C. Julius Pratt & Company / Pratt, Read & Company - historical information (by year)


Material status: = online
= link to more info
= completely offline


1820s

Various newspapers, magazines and other sources

(c. 1822-). Various newspapers, magazines and other sources - search engines. (Updated 20 April 2019.)

1792-1888 - account books

Ruthven & Son, New York. (1792-1888). Account books [with Julius Pratt & Co., Meriden, CT, listed as a subject]. (Viewed 19 December 2018. L00919).


1830s

1831-1835 - account book

(1831-35). Thomas Howard and William J. Webb account book. ["Account book originally kept by Thomas Howard of Providence, Rhode Island. Howard listed purchases of items such as elephant teeth, ivory, and tortoise shell in Providence, New York, and Boston. In 1824 Howard partnered with Julius Pratt and others, creating the comb manufacturing company Howard Pratt & Co. in Meriden, Connecticut."] (Viewed 19 December 2018. L00924).

1839-1870s - corporation records

Pratt, Read & Company. (1839-1870s). Corporation records. ["Records documenting Pratt, Read and Company; its early competitor and later partner, Comstock, Cheney and Company; and a number of predecessor, subsidiary and related companies."] (Viewed 18 December 2018. D00454).


1840s

1840 - patent - machine for planing and forming ivory or other comb-plates

William M. Fowler, assignor to Julius Pratt (and others). (28 October 1840). Letters patent no. 1837: Machine for planing and forming ivory or other comb-plates. (Viewed 18 December 2018. L00913).

1846 - news mention

(1 December 1846). Destructive fire [with mention of Julius Pratt & Co.] The Sun (Baltimore), p. 1. (Viewed 18 December 2018. L00905).

  • See worldcat.org for locations.

"The Ivory Comb Manufactory, at Meriden, Connecticut, belonging to Messrs. Julius Pratt & Co., was consumed, with its contents, on Friday last. Thirty thousand pounds of ivory were stored in the cellar, and the loss is set down at $75,000, not one half of which is insured. It is feared, also, that Wm. B. Hull, the watchman of the building has perished in the flames." (Full excerpt from above.)


1849 - book mention

Perkins, G.W. (1849). Appendix no. 12: "Manufactures in Meriden in 1849" [with mentions of Pratt-related companies], pp. 115-16. In Historical sketches of Meriden. 117 pp. Franklin E. Hinman: West Meriden. (Viewed 20 December 2018. A00779-80).

"At the present time, all the ivory combs in America, are manufactured in Connecticut, and nearly two-thirds of the whole are made in Meriden... Howard, Pratt & Co., began to manufacture ivory combs in Meriden in 1822. This firm is now in existence under the name of Julius Pratt & Co. ... Walter Webb & Co., commenced the business in 1831... Quantities of these are exported to all parts of North and South America, and some are even sent to England...."

"Julius Pratt & Co.— Ivory Combs, of great variety of sizes and quality; 42 hands."

"Walter Webb & Co.— Ivory Combs of great variety of sizes and qualities; 33 hands."

"Pratt, Ropes, Webb & Co.— Table cutlery of great variety of size, finish and cost: 75 hands." (Excerpts from above.)


1849 - patent - making ivory fine-tooth combs

Fenner Bush and Julius H. Pratt. (5 June 1849). Letters patent no. 6492: Making ivory fine-tooth combs. (Viewed 19 December 2018. L00914).


1850s

1851 - spotlighted news mention - Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, London

(15 November 1851). Premiums at the World’s Exhibition [in London, 1 May - 15 October 1851, with mention: "Prize medals... Julius Pratt & Co., ivory veneer"]. Ohio Cultivator, pp. 7, 22. (Viewed 19 December 2018. L00906).

  • See worldcat.org for locations.

1852 - broadside

Pratt, Ropes, Webb & Co. (1852). Superior American table cutlery: Manufactured by Pratt, Ropes, Webb & Co., for sale at their depot, No. 90 Jones Street, corner of Gold Street, New-York. 1 sheet. (Viewed 19 December 2018. L00918).

1856 - news announcement

(16 February 1856). Dissolution: "The partnership heretofore existing between the undersigned, under the firm of Pratt, Webb & Co., is this day dissolved by mutual consent. Julius Pratt & Co., Hanover Co., Walter W. Webb, New York, Feb 1, 1856". New York Daily Times, p. 7. (Viewed 18 December 2018. L00907).

  • See worldcat.org for locations.

1856 - news announcement

(16 February 1856). Copartnership: "The undersigned have this day associated themselves under the name of the American Ivory Comb Co., and will continue the business heretofore carried on by the firm Pratt, Webb & Co., at No. 57 Maiden-lane. Julius Pratt & Co., Hanover Co." New York Daily Times, p. 7. (Viewed 18 December 2018. L00907).

  • See worldcat.org for locations.

1856 - patent - frame for bleaching ivory

A. C. Breckenridge, assignor to Julius Pratt & Co. (19 August 1856). Letters patent no. 15,590: Frame for bleaching ivory. (Viewed 19 December 2018. L00916).

1856 - patent - machine for sizing comb-blanks

Wm Fosket and Benjn S. Stedman, assignors to Julius Pratt & Co. (26 August 1856). Letters patent no. 15,634: Machine for sizing comb-blanks. (Viewed 19 December 2018. L00917).


1860s

1861 - news mention

(8 May 1861). State items [with mention: "The extensive comb and ivory factory of Julius Pratt & Co. at Meriden, was destroyed by fire on Saturday. Loss $80,000; insured $43,000. The fire was incendiary".] Hartford Daily Courant, p. 2. (Viewed 18 December 2018. L00908).

  • See worldcat.org for locations.

1861 - patent - machine for gaging and toothing ivory for pianoforte-keys

Elliott Savage, assignor to Julius Pratt & Co. (30 July 1861). Letters patent no. 32,967: Machine for gaging and toothing ivory for pianoforte-keys. (Viewed 19 December 2018. L00915).

c. 1863 or before - design catalogue cover

Julius Pratt & Company. (c. 1863 or before). Catalogue (cover only). [Number of pages of catalogue unknown.] (Viewed 18 December 2018. L00904).



"In 1863, the firms of George Read & Company, Julius Pratt & Company, and Pratt Brothers & Company, were merged to form Pratt, Read & Company." [Pratt, Read & Company. (1839-1870s). Corporation records. Overview page. See Smithsonian archive listing above.]



1865 - spotlighted news mention - Pratt, Read & Company in American Institute fair

(24 October 1865). Connecticut wares at the American Institute [with mention: "Pratt, Read & Co., Meriden, for a superior case of ivory goods— silver medal"]. Hartford Courant, p. 2. (Viewed 18 December 2018. D00520-21.)

  • See worldcat.org for locations.
  • For announcement of dates of exhibition, see: Offline - (26 July 1865). American Institute. Hartford Courant, p. 2. (See worldcat.org for locations.)

1866 - news mention

(19 January 1866). State matters [with mention: "Meriden... A single load of ivory taken to Pratt, Read & Co.’s, Prattsville, was valued at $50,000".] Hartford Daily Courant, p. 2. (Viewed 18 December 2018. L00912).

  • See worldcat.org for locations.

1868 - mention in book

Bishop, J. Leander et al. (1868). Mention of Read, Pratt & Co. ["... manufactured Ivory Combs and Piano Ivory to the amount of $175,000. A consolidation of all the principal firms engaged in the manufacture of Ivory Combs in the United States, has been recently effected, and their principal factory at Meriden."] A history of American manufactures from 1608-1860 (3rd edition, revised and enlarged), p. 426. Philadelphia: Edward Young & Co. (Viewed 19 December 2018. A00816-18).

1868? - historical information

Connecticut Supreme Court of Errors. (1868?). "Julius Pratt vs. the Meriden Cutlery Company". In "Connecticut Supreme court of errors, record of cases on appeal, 1868". (Viewed 20 December 2018. A00678.)

1869 - obituary

(31 August 1869). Death of Julius Pratt. Hartford Daily Courant, p. 2. (Viewed 18 December 2018. L00909).

  • See worldcat.org for locations.

"... Mr. Pratt has been a leading manufacturer in Connecticut for many years. He was a pioneer in the ivory comb business, and established himself early in Meriden, growing up wth the place. Only a few weeks ago he resigned the presidency of Pratt, Reed & Co., a position he had held for fifty consecutive years... when told that if war ensued his business in the South would be wholly cut off, characteristically replied: ’If the South don’t want my combs, on their heads would be the consequences.’"


1870s


"In 1871, the old Julius Pratt & Company factory in Meriden was closed and its operations moved to Deep River." [Pratt, Read & Company. (1839-1870s). Corporation records. Overview page. See Smithsonian archive listing above.]



1876 - Pratt, Read & Co. in Centennial International Exhibition, Philadelphia

Curtis, George D. (1877). Souvenir of the Centennial exhibition: Connecticut’s representation at Philadelphia, 1876 [with mention: "Ivory Goods— Pratt, Read & Co., Deep River, ivory combs, piano and organ keys, ivory veneers, etc."], p. 125. Geo. D. Curtis: Hartford, Conn. (Viewed 19 December 2018. L00920-21).



This compilation, with a Meriden-area focus, stops at 1876 with regard to the historical work as the Meriden operations ceased in 1871.



1900s

c. 1900-50 - Julius Pratt in archival papers

(c. 1900-50). Willoughby Farr [antique dealer] papers. [Julius Pratt is listed as a topic, number of relevant papers unknown.] (Viewed 18 December G00218).


1950s

1956 - historical information

Wendover, Sanford H. (1956). On Julius Pratt & Company and related companies. In 150 years of Meriden, pp. 82-84. (See excerpt at the top of this webpage.) Meriden: Meriden Sesquicentennial Committee. [Published in connection with the observance of the city’s sesquicentennial, June 17-23, 1956. (Updated 18 December 2018. A00789-90).


1970s

1973 - booklet

Deep River Historical Society. (1973). A history of Pratt, Read & Co. of Deep River, Connecticut. 9 pp. (Viewed 19 December 2018. L00922).


2000s

2000 - spotlighted news mention - Julius Pratt & Company in National Museum of American History, Smithsonian exhibition

Doster, Alexis. (November 2000). Recollecting the presidents: An election year exhibition proudly hails the chiefs [The American Presidency exhibition (c. November 2000). Smithsonian (Washington, DC), pp. 75-8, 80 82-5. (Viewed 26 December 2018. L00910).

Presumed photo caption: "Former President JOHN QUINCY ADAMS (1825-29) served in the House of Representatives, where he argued in favor of the creation of the Smithsonian. He received an ivory cane from Julius Pratt & Company of Meriden Connecticut, for his efforts toward the abolition of slavery." (Excerpt from above.)


2010s

2014 - feature article

Rubinstein, Harry R. (22 September 2014). The cane that struck against slavery [about the Julius Pratt & Co. gift, the "Right to Petition Cane", to John Quincy Adams]. whatitmeanstobeamerican.org. (Viewed 20 December 2018. L00925).

"... The elegant cane was presented to Massachusetts Congressman John Quincy Adams— the former president— in March 1844, by Henry Ellsworth, commissioner of the U.S. Patent Office... a trophy to recognize Adams for his role in the ongoing battle to abolish slavery. The cane was a gift from Julius Pratt and Co. of Meriden, Connecticut, one of the country’s leading importers of ivory. Pratt, an active abolitionist... " (Excerpt from above; photo of the cane at the top of this webpage.)


n. d.

n. d. - unpublished (?) manuscript

Johnson, Curtiss Sherman. (undated). From ivory combs to Carnegie Hall — and today: The history of the Pratt-Read Corporation. 140 pp. (Viewed 19 December 2018. L00923).