April 23, 2014
Tea Service, H.7289.8
Trying to date and determine where this tea service was manufactured has proven to be a challenge. Over many years, a number of businesses used Rogers in their names. Companies formed, merged, separated, folded, and absorbed each other. The brothers Asa, Simeon, and William Rogers were all silversmiths and partners at various times in Hartford, Waterbury, or Meriden, Connecticut; either together or with other individuals. As a result, some of the marks they designed continued to be used by a variety of companies and were bought and sold through many business cycles. According to Dorothy T. Rainwater, (Encyclopedia of American Silver Manufacturers, Crown Publishers, Inc., 1975), the maker’s mark on this tea service is the mark used on hollowware manufactured by Rogers & Bro. beginning in 1860. Rogers & Bro. was one of the original companies that became part of the International Silver Company in 1898. International Silver still uses several of the trademarks originated by the three Rogers brothers, although according to the Online Encyclopedia of Silver Marks, Hallmarks, Maker’s Marks, the mark on this tea service was discontinued in 1976. Based on information provided by the donor, we have narrowed down the estimated date of manufacture further to between 1869 and 1897.
The service was donated to the museum in 1967 by Alberta Shattuck. She received it when her mother, Alberta Iliff, passed away earlier that year. Alberta Iliff was the daughter of Frank G. Bloom and Sarah Thatcher Bloom of Trinidad, Colorado. According to correspondence between Alberta Shattuck and the museum, she donated the tea set and other items to History Colorado “for use in the Bloom House” in Trinidad, Colorado. This is curious. Although Alberta Iliff was born and raised in Trinidad, she lived all of her adult and married life in Denver. After graduating from high school in Trinidad, she went to college at the University of Denver. She married William Seward Iliff on July 22, 1897, only months after graduating. The ceremony was in Trinidad, but before the year had passed, the couple had returned to Denver. They never lived in Trinidad as a married couple. Had the service originally belonged to Alberta and William Seward Iliff, it seems unusual that Alberta Shattuck would have wanted the service to be used in Trinidad. For this reason it seems possible that the set may have been passed down to Alberta Iliff by her mother Sarah Thatcher Bloom.
Sarah Thatcher Bloom married Frank G. Bloom in Pennsylvania in 1869. Frank Bloom had settled in Trinidad two years earlier. First, he was the store manager for the prosperous Thatcher Brothers & Company. He later started the first bank of Trinidad and became the director of the Bloom Cattle Company. He would become one of the most respected and influential business-men in Trinidad. He definitely had the means to purchase the tea service. In 1882 he and Sarah built what is now known as the Frank G. Bloom House, or the Bloom Mansion. They would live out their lives in this home.
Again, it could be that Alberta Shattuck wanted the tea service used in Trinidad because it had originally belonged to her grandmother in Trinidad. If this were the case, the tea service could have belonged to Sarah Thatcher Bloom as early as 1869, the year she and Frank G. Bloom were married. Although most of the other objects donated to the museum by Ms. Shattuck were identified by her as belonging to her mother, there were several objects that were indeed identified as having belonged to Frank G. Bloom. This fact confirms that some of the Bloom family belongings were passed down from Frank & Sarah Bloom to their daughter Alberta Gearhart Bloom Iliff and it seems possible that the service was also one of them. The set needs further research.