Silversmith William A. Churchill et al. of Churchill, Stanley & Co., Jewelry Manufacturers of New Britain, Connecticut; Small Business Archive of Letters and Papers, 1838–1870.
Business correspondence and receipts for Connecticut silversmith William A. Churchill (1810–1874) and his jewelry manufacturing firm Churchill, Stanley & Co.
The business was in direct succession from the firm North & Churchill which traced its origins to c.1820 when William B. North began to manufacture jewelry in New Britain. Churchill, Stanley & Co. began c.1848, after North’s death, when Churchill admitted James Stanley (1813–1880), a former apprentice, to the partnership.
The archive comprises 24 business letters, many brief in nature, from 1838 to 1870, including three letters written by William A. Churchill, one letter by James Stanley, and one incoming letter to Charles Mason Lewis (1813–1886) who became a partner in 1856. The bulk of the remaining letters are addressed to William A. Churchill, Churchill, Stanley & Co., or a later successor firm, Churchill, Dana & Co., formed in 1863.
The letters make reference to gold and silver jewelry, the price of gold, jewelry pins, badges, “spectacles” (eyeglasses), debts, business accounts, difficult times, foil and glass, octagon stone rings and other rings, and various precious and gem stones such as garnets, rubies, and diamonds.
One letter, from Alvin Wilcox in New Haven in 1838, makes reference to making pins for Yale College’s Skull & Bones society, first formed in 1832:
I am in want of Seven Breast pins for College called the Scull & Bones pins. I wish you to make me Eight. I want them if Possible by the last of next week & if you Would not find or Do not [have an] opportunity to Send them be so good as to take them to Worthington & send them by the stage…put them up in a little Box that they may not get injured. I want them made the same size & Pattern as those you made last year for Benjamin.
Presuming the intimacy of using a first name, “Benjamin,” and the reference to “last year,” Wilcox’s letter may be referring to later Yale chemistry professor, Benjamin Silliman, Jr. (1816–1885) who was a member of Skull & Bones and an 1837 Yale graduate.
Description: Silversmith William A. Churchill et al. of Churchill, Stanley & Co., Jewelry Manufacturers of New Britain, Connecticut; Small Business Archive of Letters and Papers, 1838–1870.
[New Haven, Middletown, and Bridgeport, Connecticut; New York; Boston; 1838–1870].  handwritten pages, in all. 24 Autograph Letters Signed + 10 Receipts. 8vos. and 4tos. Folds; creases and some spindling; Very Good.
Refs. Camp, History of New Britain, with Sketches of Farmington and Berlin, Connecticut. 1640-1889 (New Britain, 1889), pp276–277. William Allen Churchill and James Stanley and Charles Mason Lewis [via Silversmiths & Related Craftsmen] accessed online. wq10