The American Bicentennial in , another event that the company celebrated with a big splash, was a swan song, though some did not yet realize it. Queen Elizabeth II visited the United States that year and received a gift made by the company: a chess set with American revolutionaries rendered in pewter on one side and gold-plated British soldiers on the other. The company made less expensive commemoratives too, including a boxed set of 13 silverplated spoons, each honoring one of the 13 colonies. Many problems beset American silver companies in the s, including metal price spikes, high interest and inflation, and overseas competition.
Reduced tariffs in allowed inexpensive Asian-made flatware to invade the U. American lifestyles became more casual, too; perhaps a hostess would rather display a piece of hand-thrown pottery in the dining room than a formal silver coffee service. Although all U. These businesses, producing such things as paint and office products, were turned into a conglomerate named Insilco. The New York Times , March 5, Although it was once the parent company, International in the end became the neglected child, as business journalist Subrata N.
The last remnants of the silver business were sold by As part of upper management, Young knew the closing was coming at some point most workers did not. But, looking out his office window, he was still shocked to see buses pulling through the main gate that day. They stood by each door of the factory to discourage any resistance. Inside, a loudspeaker ordered employees to pick up their personal belongings and leave immediately.
Young and everyone else complied. In later interviews, Young and several other International managers told what had gone on before and after that ugly day. The process of undoing International had begun almost imperceptibly. In Durand B. Blatz became the controller of the company. He was not from a silver family, nor did he come up from the bench.
He had already begun the diversification planning that the company directors and other officers found convincing.
Without the strong balance sheet of the company, the expansion of Insilco would not have been possible. The day after the buses arrived, Young explained to me, he was told to go back into his department and, except for a few designs already sold to Oneida, destroy the hollowware drawings on file there.
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It was my life. The Meriden Historical Society has some company documents, but Young and other former company designers and historical society volunteers wonder about the fate of some valuable one-off silver items. Stern was able to trace the peace chalice. Sadly, the owners had the rather noble inscription about peace removed and substituted an inscription in praise of commerce.
The Dallas Museum collection numbers close to pieces by International. Smaller items are on view at the Meriden Historical Society.
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Insilco did not have the glorious future that Blatz and others planned for it. After being taken over itself, it began to founder in the late s. It went bankrupt in —only a decade after the plated hollowware division was shut in Meriden. James Press, —a sad end for an enterprise that had been healthy for nearly a century. Bits of the company churned through other ownership after that, but Insilco as a conglomerate and International as a corporation were gone.
Despite the painful undoing of International, a renaissance is underway for the company—among collectors, researchers, and museums. Perhaps the most notable is Alfred G.
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Kintz , who was born to a Meriden family descended from German-speaking woodcarvers. His older brother Robert was a designer and modeler at International, and his son Robert spent a career there too. A pair of rare condiment servers he designed was on display in at the Smithsonian Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.
Kintz is noted especially for his sophisticated Art Deco hollowware. In his long career, he also designed 44 flatware patterns, most of them sterling. Kintz designed both flatware and hollowware in sterling. When one of his flatware patterns went into production, he often designed matching coffee services, trays, candy and cake dishes too, his son explained in a telephone interview in The hollowware—which was less likely to be copied by competitors—was not usually patented.
For hollowware in general, this makes attributing some designs more difficult for researchers.
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Shaped as a lighthouse, it was detailed with pedimented windows, a beacon lamp, and a lookout gallery. Clearly, the International Silver Company has begun to get its due. Trump draws boos when introduced to crowd at World Series. Updated: Trump says Islamic State leader dead after U. California Democratic congresswoman resigns amid ethics probe, 'weaponized' photos. Analysis: With Islamic State leader's death, Trump touts much-needed triumph. Updated: House to vote on formally opening impeachment inquiry.
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