History of Reed and Barton

A brief history of the origins of Reed & Barton Manufacturing Co.

 A History of Reed & Barton

Reed & Barton manufacturing company dates back to the founding of a jewelry shop in 1822 in Taunton, Massachusetts by Isaac Babbit. The shop later turned its focus to pewter in 1824, where Babbit worked on innovating his materials and developed Britanna Metal, a combination of tin, antimony and copper, making a material more lustrous and white than pewter. After Babbit gained popularity with his craftsmanship and quality, two designers, Henry Reed and Charles Barton, partnered with the business. The company began to experience hardship and Babbit sold the company and factory in 1834 to Reed & Barton.

Taking their knowledge of crafting and innovation, Reed & Barton produced “in the metal” flatware and holloware, meaning that raw unplated pieces were sold to plating factories. They maintained this practice until the discovery of the Comstock Lode in Virginia City, Nevada in 1859, making silver widely available in raw form in the US.

With their knowledge of creating raw metal goods and recent fame, they soon created and cast the first Reed & Barton sterling pattern, Flora, circa 1890.

Sugar Shell in Flora by Reed & Barton
Sugar Shell in Flora by Reed & Barton

A focus towards more sterling patterns in holloware and flatware such as Francis I led them to great success as an American sterling producer.  For example, among the most popular patterns was a Francis I sterling silver 7-piece tea and coffee service and tray. Maker’s mark of Reed & Barton, Taunton, Massachusets: Comprising a tea kettle, teapot, coffeepot, cream jug, covered sugar bowl, waste bowl and tray; the tea service pieces with baluster form bodies, chased with fruit, blossoms, and foliage, with cornucopiae enclosing a vacant cartouche on either side, the shaped oval tray with bracket handles and conforming decoration.

7 Piece Francis I Tea & Coffee Set by Reed & Barton

In the 1996 Olympics, hosted by Atlanta, Reed & Barton was chosen as the designer and creator of all the medals for the awarded athletes.

Gold Medal Designed for 1996 Altanta Olympics
Gold Medal Designed for 1996 Atlanta Olympics

Currently, Reed & Barton is known as the oldest independently owned American producer of sterling flatware and holloware patterns. They have expanded into other divisions of tableware including stainless steel, crystal, china and even plastic ware; They are also the world’s largest producer of wooden chests. Despite changes in leadership and economy, living by the motto of high quality pieces and excellent customer service, Reed & Barton has been able to thrive for more than 185 years.

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0 thoughts on “History of Reed and Barton”

  1. I enjoyed reading about Reed & Barton. I would like to read more about todays silver industry as so many things have changed in the last four years. I have heard that Reed and Barton bought Lunt. When looking at the Reed & Barton website it appears that they only make a few patterns now. I have also read that the rest of the industry has merged into one company and all operations have moved to Puerto Rico. It is sad to lose our traditonal businesses in New England. We recently adopted a son and I hope when it is time for him to have a home of his own he will be able to select fine American sterling.
    Thank you for all the wonderful pieces you have sold me over the years.
    Hello to Mrs. Pater.

  2. enjoyed all the literature on reed and barton as i have a veggie dish of sterling and cant find any literature on when it was made etc. i’d like to find this out jack whiting

  3. I have an unusual small footed compote in a very baroque style that is marked as thus:
    Jan. 12 1858
    Would like to find info as to when it was roughly produced. It appears to be silverplated with the interior having a beautiful patina. I have contacted the company but never received a reply. Any clues?

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