The Reed & Barton Company, New York (R&B)

  • Reed & Barton 1911 catalog, featuring shades from Chapman, Rand and Sibley & Pitman


The reader should be aware that the information presented here, dramatic as it is, remains a work in progress. What continues to become even more clear however, is the surprising significance of previously little known firms. There are a half dozen East Coast firms alone that we know next to nothing about. Ditto for those in the Midwest. Designers were sought after and perhaps engaged on an as-needed basis, as was common with certain of Tiffany's window designers. Designers are engaged, they design, they move on to other opportunities!

Waldo Chapman was one such individual. Up to this point, Chapman has been regarded as a Boston lamp maker of limited recognition. In 2018, strong hints of engagements with Richard Chandler and John Morgan were revealed among his personal sketches and photos found in the Chapman trove. To this, we must now include his lamp designs for Reed & Barton, and involvement with two new firms, Amboy Works in New Jersey, and their sales agents, Sibley & Pitman in New York. Now we see him not only in the role of designer, but one who could create a manufacturing facility from scratch.

Acknowledgements Great thanks are due to the Baker Library, Harvard Business School as custodians of the Reed & Barton Archive images. We give special thanks to Peter Lyons for sharing these very important images with us and helping us make sense of what they convey.

Citation Large illustrated catalogue, lamps and shades. Reed & Barton records, Volume D-20, Baker Library, Harvard Business School. Photographs courtesy of Peter Lyons.

The Archive

Much new information has come to light thanks to Peter Lyons’s recent visit to the Baker Library at Harvard Business School during which he uncovered a photographic archive of Reed & Barton lamps and their dealings with independent shade makers. Peter recalls that the archive was very dusty, bound with a chord and most likely had never been opened in 100 years! Absolute treasure.

More famously known for their silver and silver plate flatware and accessories, this well established company was started back in Taunton, Massachusetts in 1825 and after a long run was met with bankruptcy in 2015. After bankruptcy, the surviving company records were sent to the Baker Library. Today, the company is owned by The Lenox Company and operates a factory store at the plant site, an outlet store at Wrentham Premium Outlets in Wrentham, Massachusetts, and an online store as well.

The Reed & Barton archive consists of approximately 100 images of completed lamps on their bases and in some cases just the shades themselves. Written on many of the photos is the maker's model number. The shade is then given unique R&B shade numbers along with the R&B base number. The base numbers line up with numbers impressed on the bottom of known R&B bases that have shown up in the marketplace. In other cases, the maker name does not appear in some photos. The archive now confirms the long held opinion that Reed & Barton did indeed rely on outside shade manufacturers to provide their leaded shades.

The significance of the archive is not what it says about Reed and Barton, since they were after all a hybrid maker, attaching other company's shades to their own beautiful bronze bases. The significance of the images is what it says about the companies that were supplying the shades to R&B. These have now been clearly identified as Sibley/Pitman and its subsidiary Amboy Works along with Chapman. And many of these shades have been mis-identified over the decades as the work of another prominent well known maker, Gorham. Amboy Works, a company that had been forgotten for nearly 100 years has now been rediscovered and it was hiding in plain sight all along.

A few photos in the archive show additional suppliers of shades, these include Morgan, Whaley and Bent Glass Novelty. It is now confirmed that these companies produced shades for R&B, to be offered for sale as R&B products, and not the other way round. Some observations about these photos follows:

  • Assumed to be catalog cuts from a yet to be discovered catalog.
John Morgan & Sons. The number of Morgan shades that have appeared on R&B bases and their 1911 advert showing one, confirm that R&B were actively branding these shades as R&B products. With Images of just 2 Morgan shades in the R&B archive, both known models, it is hopeful that these Morgan images in the R&B archive were cut from a catalog that has yet to surface. J.A. Whaley. More of a surprise was the inclusion of several catalog photos of overlay shades by Whaley. Details of some of the bases were either obscured or open to interpretation, but as with Morgan, this is certainly a supplier relationship, proven by additional images in the R&B archive. Bent Glass Novelty. Another surprise was the inclusion of a couple of shades by BGN along with a short BGN supplement to their 1908 catalogue. To what extent BGN supplied R&B is unclear but this is proof once more that R&B were openly branding other makers' shades as their own models.
Benjamin Priest. We suspect that Reed and Barton first engaged with outside firms to furnish stained glass shades around 1905. There is evidence in the Reed & Barton archives that the first shade maker that they engaged was Benjamin Priest. In 1905, Benjamin Priest took over the assets and the name of Chandler Specialty Co. from Richard Chandler. Appearing on one of the R&B photographs is a leaded shade sporting a Reed & Barton base. Written on the photograph are Benjamin Priest's name and the remark that they were 'out of business'. Press announcement of Priest's failure appeared in December of 1905, so we can say with some level of confidence that R&B was preparing products at least by the demise of Priest’s Company.

Given that the relationship with Priest was very short, it is entirely possible that Richard Chandler was their supplier before Priest took over, and Waldo Chapman was certainly with Chandler at the time.

  • R&B catalog from 1911, Chapman Shade
  • Harvard Graduate Magazine March 1907

So far, growing evidence has appeared illustrating their commitment to this new line of business. The range was large and, thanks to an undated price list in conjunction with the images in the archive, around 110 leaded shades in combination with 34 bronze bases are offered. An additional page of the price list recommends which bases were deemed most suitable for a given base.

The earliest press bulletin signalling expansion of their facilities was in April of 1906, "In one building, a new department will be installed for the manufacture of bronze ware with special attention to electroliers and banquet lamps." The new building was in the Taunton, Mass facility. It may be no coincidence that Chapman arrived in Amboy, NJ, also in April, to jump start Amboy Works, the lamp manufacturing arm of Sibley & Pitman. R&B's commitment with Sibley & Pitman for leaded shades was a good reason for Sibley & Pitman to fund such an ambitious venture, to the tune of $50,000.

In the R&B archive, an internal order form was found, dated October 1906 supplying the initial stock of shades and bases for their San Francisco sales office. The first known public advertisement for their lighting appeared during the Christmas period of 1906. Large advertisements appeared in 2 lifestyle magazines, Town & Country and Vogue. These were most revealing as one of the several lamps featured a documented shade by John Morgan & Sons mounted on the Art Nouveau 'two maidens' bronze base, #90. March of 1907 saw an advert in the Harvard Graduate Magazine. By 1908, Morgan were clearly confirmed suppliers, despite only 2 images of Morgan models being found in the archive. Once again, Chapman's earlier engagement with the Morgans likely promoted the relationship with R&B.

R&B were prolific advertisers but usually targeted campaigns around weddings and the holidays, especially Christmas. The extraordinary variety of products offered by the company were grouped into two main catalogs referred to as 'The Blue catalog' and 'The Brown catalog'. Lighting featured in a very limited way. A 1911 edition of the R&B catalog held by the Rakow library features lamps on just 2 pages out of 139 total. These 2 pages were amongst their more traditional lines of business including silverware, smoking and desk accessories and cut glass cologne bottles.

Advertising Examples

Several examples of advertising from their campaigns are included in the archive, one featuring a full page ad celebrating the company's 85th anniversary in May of 1909. with barely a mention of lighting. However, advertisements dedicated solely to their lighting products, although not common, were still impressive as can be seen in this gallery images. For detailed photos, click / touch on the thumbnails below, scoll through the images using the arrows or space bar.

  • Price List with Amboy / Chapman-Rand Shade
  • Amboy / Chapman-Rand Shade
  • Shade alternatives for a given base
  • Shades from Amboy, Chapman-Rand and John Morgan
  • Vogue Magazine Advertising
  • Vogue / Amboy Shade
  • Vogue Magazine Advertising
  • Vogue / Chapman-Rand Shade
  • Vogue / Chapman-Rand Shade
  • Vogue / Amboy Shade
  • Vogue / Amboy Shade
  • Vogue / Amboy Shade
  • Wedding Advertising


Some years ago, four pages from an R&B 1910 lighting catalog surfaced at an online auction and it is assumed there must be others waiting to be discovered. Additional research is determining the extent to which their lighting was carried by outside retail agencies and other resellers. So R&B’s embrace of the leaded lamp market seems somewhat hesitant despite their comprehensive range, almost hedging their bets in a rapidly moving retail trend.

As the reader will see from other pages dedicated to these firms, Amboy Works and Sibley & Pitman were not only providers for Reed & Barton, but were closely aligned through ownership. They made leaded shades for almost 7 years, hence their lamps are no strangers to today's collector market.

The last known appearance of Reed & Barton’s leaded lamp range was in the previously mentioned company catalog from 1911 however, some correspondence in the archive date to 1912 and 1913.

Where we go from here

The archive has obviously meant a complete re-think on Gorham attributed lamps. Gorham lamps do appear with signed bases and tiny apertures, just not in the numbers previously seen. It's safe to say most are from Amboy Works. However, there is a degree of overlap with certain examples and with the mixing and sharing of bases and caps on some examples this has not been kind to a solid identification. Add Waldo Chapman's businesses to the mix and the task becomes more difficult still. A very large number of Gorham examples gathered on this site since 1998, have necessarily been re-attributed to Amboy. However, the door is till open for any evidence to the modify what we have presented here.

Selected Images From The Reed & Barton Archive

There are other images in the scrapbook not listed below. Some of those carry similar pictures but with the names of the shade makers actually inscribed in pencil. For ease of deciphering the images and the price list, the shades are listed numerically by fives. Shades 15 and then 75-90 and 130-185 are clearly labelled Chapman. Shades 20 through 70 and 105-115 are labelled Sibley/Pitman (Amboy). There are higher numbers in the archive from 200-500 and those are mostly Amboy with a few Whaley and Morgans.

Image citation: Large illustrated catalogue, lamps and shades. Reed & Barton records, Volume D-20, Baker Library, Harvard Business School. Photographs courtesy of Peter Lyons. For detailed photos, click on the thumbnails below, scroll through the images using the arrows or space bar.

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