Towle & Silversmithing


Although Towle Silversmiths was not founded until 1857 (as Towle & Jones) and then 1873 (as A.F. Towle & Son); its progenitors included several members of the Moulton family, whose silversmiths dynasty is claimed to have the longest continuous span of silversmithing of any American family. From father to son, this family produced silversmiths for two hundred years. 

In 1637, William Moulton (1615-1664) came together with his two brothers John and Thomas from Ormesby, Norfolk, England, and settled on Winnacunnet Road in Hampton, New Hampshire. 

In 1664 his son William Moulton II (1664-1732) was born. In 1682 at the age of 18, William Moulton II left the family farm in Hampton, New Hampshire and settled near the Merrimack River in a section of Newbury, Massachusetts that would later become Newburyport. By some accounts, he was the first in six generations of silversmiths. While he did buy and sell silver goods, he was basically a general trader. 

His son Joseph Moulton (1694-1750) has also been proposed as the first Moulton to work in silver, but he was actually a blacksmith by trade, though he likely turned his hand to whatever came through his shop door. 

Although most of the Moultons carried on their craft in Newburyport, some went to other communities where they established themselves as silversmiths. 

The first verified silversmith was William Moulton III (1720-1793) He worked from 1742 to 1762 as a silversmith in Newburyport, MA, and from 1762 to 1788 in Hempstead NH. He then moved in a covered wagon to Marietta, Ohio, carrying his silversmith’s tools with him, (and was one of the forty-eight pioneers to settle in the Northwest Territory, and is considered as one of its founders). 

His son, Joseph Moulton (1744-1816) the fourth in line, worked from about 1764 to 1810 as a silversmith in Newburyport, MA, with home and shop on State Street. He had four sons that were silversmiths. 1) Ebenezer moved to Boston. 2) Enoch moved to Portland, Maine, each of them continuing their crafts in their respective places. 3) Abel inherited his father’s business in Newburyport. 

His son William Moulton IV (1772-1861) was the fifth in line of the Moulton chain. He established his own shop in the same place.  

William had two apprentices Anthony Francis Towle, and William P. Jones. 

He worked from 1795 to 1845 as a silversmith in Newburyport, Massachusetts. In addition to supplying well-crafted church silver and other vessels, he made jewelry in his shop on Merrimack Street. 

His son, Joseph Moulton (1814-1903), the sixth and final in line, was the one that sold the silver business he inherited, to his father’s two apprentices; Anthony Francis Towle and William P. Jones (who were also his apprentices), in 1857 to form Towle & Jones, Co. In 1873, the son of Anthony Francis Towle, Edward Bass Towle was added to the business, and the name was changed to A.F. Towle & Son. It was in business through 1902, at which point their dies were purchased by Rogers, Lunt and Bowlen, who were later to become Lunt Silversmiths. 

In 1882, Anthony Francis Towle, while still owning A.F. Towle & Son, established the Towle Manufacturing Co.. 

In 1890, the company adopted the trademark of a large script “T” enclosed by a lion. Richard Dimes, an English silversmith who had immigrated to the U.S. in 1881, started Towle’s hollowware line. Dimes, who also worked for the Frank W. Smith Silver Co., would eventually establish his own company, Richard Dimes Co., in Boston. 

Eventually the company’s name was changed to Towle Silversmiths. 

Over the years, Towle has created numerous sterling silver flatware patterns in the United States: including the “Candlelight” in 1934, the “Marie Louise” in 1939 which became the official sterling silver pattern for U.S. Embassies worldwide, “Old Master” in 1942 now considered by some to be the company’s flagship pattern, and the “Contour” in 1950 (designed by Robert J. King, patented by John Van Koert) which was the first American sterling pattern to manifest post-World War II organic modernist design and the only production-line American flatware included in the Museum of Modern Art’s Good Design exhibitions. 

In 1990, Towle Silversmiths was acquired by the holding company Syratech Inc., that also owned Wallace Silversmiths and the International Silver Co.. In 2006, Lifetime Brands Inc. purchased Syratech Inc.; thereby acquiring Towle Silversmiths, was well as Wallace Silversmiths and International Silver Co.. 

The exhibit of Moulton and Towle silver in the museum of the Meeting House Green Memorial and Historical Association today has both national and local interest. It has national historical significance because the silver pieces produced by the Moultons are now rare collectors items, some of them such worthy examples of early American craftsmanship that they have found a place in the great collections of American materials in New York’s Metropolitan Museum and in Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.  

Today’s exhibit has local interest because the long line of Moultons who engaged in silversmithing was directly descended from William Moulton who was born in Hampton in 1664. His father, also William, had come to Newbury in 1637 from Ormsby, Norfolk County, England, as had his two brothers, John and Thomas. All three Moultons came to Hampton with Stephen Bachiler and his flock to settle at Winnacunnet in the autumn of 1638. The young William was born in a house which his father had built on a piece of land that was located at what is today the east side of Mill Road where it joins Winnacunnet Road and on which the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Emslie now stands.  

In 1679, the second William left Hampton and settled at Newbury where he became a trader and may have done some silversmithing. His son Joseph is generally recognized as the first silversmith of the Moulton line which is said to have the longest continuous span of silversmithing of any American family. From father to son, this family produced silversmiths for two hundred years, more of its members entering the silver industry than from any other family in early American history. Even one woman in the Moulton clan — Lydia, daughter of the third William — did some silversmithing.  

Although most of the Moultons carried on their craft in Newburyport, some went to other communities where they established themselves as silversmiths. The third William moved in a covered wagon to Marietta, Ohio, carrying his silversmith’s tools with him. His son Joseph had four sons, all of whom were silversmiths. Ebenezer moved to Boston and Enoch to Portland, Maine, each of them continuing their crafts in their respective places. Abel inherited his father’s business in Newburyport and the fourth William established his own shop in the same place.  

By this time, Anthony F. Towle went from Hampton to Newburyport where he became apprenticed to the fourth William Moulton. Anthony was a descendent of Philip Towle and the son of Jabez who had purchased the General Moulton house in Hampton. Later Anthony joined with William P. Jones to establish a silversmith partnership. These two subsequently purchased the fourth Joseph Moulton’s business and formed the firm of Towle and Jones in 1857. From this enterprise developed the famous silversmith establishment today known as The Towle Silversmiths.  

Hampton thus is intimately connected with the early history of silversmithing in America, being the birthplace not only of the first William Moulton, but also of Anthony Towle, whose name is perpetuated in the present designation of The Towle Silversmiths.  

Among the notable pieces of Moulton silver is the Isaac Harris pitcher (1810) done by Ebenezer Moulton in commemoration of the saving of the Old South Church from being consumed in a great fire in Boston. This pitcher is now in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. In the Metropolitan Museum may be seen an exquisite silver mug made and inscribed “1750” by the fourth Joseph Moulton.  

Timeline & Product & Silversmith Terms

Towle Silversmiths formed the Moulton Family of Newburyport, MA 

Towle first unveils its now famous backstamp 

Towle introduces its classically elegant “Benjamin Franklin” pattern 

Towle introduces the “Marie Louise” pattern by Frank W. Smith – becomes the official sterling silver pattern of all U.S. Embassies for many years. 

Towle introduces its famous “Old Master” pattern 

Towle Silversmiths is acquired by Syratech Corporation 

Acid Etching 
A method of customizing a product with an emblem, logo, or seal, etched into an item by transferring a tissue lifting of a logo from a steel engraving plate to an item. A wax resin then surrounds the impression left. Acid is applied to the impression area and eats away at the non-resin exposed areas. The resin is then moved, cleaned, and a permanent etching is left. 

All Purpose, XL 
Ideal for a variety of serving tasks. 

Applied Border 
A cast or rolled border design soldered onto a piece of holloware. 

Asparagus Server 
Designed for serving bunches of long fresh vegetables including asparagus, zucchini, celery, and carrot sticks. 

Asparagus Tongs, Individual 
Ideal for small servings of asparagus, zucchini, and eggplant. 

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Baby Pusher 
Special utensil designed to ease the transition from hand to fork/spoon. 

Baby Spoon 
Specially sized spoon tailored for a baby, 12 – 24 months. 

Bar Knife 
Citrus fruit slicer. Includes cap lifter. 

Bon Bon Nut Spoon 
Perfect for serving small bon bons. 

Britannia Metal 
A silver-like alloy of tin, antimony, and copper first used in 1770. When used as a base metal for electroplating, it is referred to as E.P.B.M. 

Bronze Castings 
An old world art. Hollow fittings are made by a craftsperson who pours molten metal into bronze molds of fittings, handles, feet, finials, spouts, candleholders, etc. 

“Butler” Finish 
A mellow surface luster originally the result of years of hand rubbing by English butlers. Today it is imitated by applying a revolving wire wheel to a silver product. 

Butter Pick 
Designed for individual servings of original or flavored butter balls or butter pats. 

Butter Serving Knife 
Ideal for butters and spreads. 

Butter Spreader 
Ideal for specialty butter spreads and pates. 

Butter Spreader, FH 
features a heavier handle. 

Butter Spreader, Paddle Blade 
Ideal for butter spreads and pates. 

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Cake Breaker 
Cuts and serves angel food cake. 

Cake Fork 
Ideal for desserts. 

Cake Knife 
For cutting cakes and pastries. 

Cake Serving Fork 
Ideal for serving desserts. 

Cap Lifter 
Versatile bottle opening utensil. 

decorating in high or low relief, achieved by the use of tools which push the surface of the metal into patterns. In chasing, no metal is removed. 

Cheese Cleaver 
Ideal for slicing large blocks of specialty cheeses. 

Cheese Grater 
Perfect for grating fresh cheeses. 

Cheese Scoop 
Ideal for soft cheese spreads. 

Cheese Server 
Appropriate for serving most cheeses. 

Child Fork 
Fork sized for a child’s easy use. 

Child Knife 
Knife sized for a child’s easy use. 

Child Spoon 
Spoon sized for a child’s easy use. 

Chocolate Spoon 
For drizzling and serving all kinds of chocolate, including hot fudge and melted white chocolate. 

Coffee Scoop 
Perfect for measuring the freshest ground coffee. 

Coin Silver 
In the U.S. up until the Civil War much of the holloware was made from melted coins. These coins were made of silver assayed at 900 parts pure silver to every 1,000 parts 
25 parts lower than the sterling standard. 

Cold Meat Fork 
Essential for party platters, featuring cold meats and cheeses. 

Cracker Scoop 
Perfect for oyster crackers for soups and salads. 

Cranberry, XL 
Larger size and heavier weight than a tomato/cranberry server. 

Cream Sauce Ladle 
Ideal for serving hearty soups and chowders. 

Cream Soup Spoon 
A necessity for soups and stews. 

A decorative technique similar to appliqué-work in sewing. Thin sheets of silver are cut into patterns which are then applied as ornamentation. 

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Demitasse Spoon 
Ideal for serving coffee, tea or other after dinner refreshments. 

Dessert Server 
Essential for serving most desserts including cakes, pies, and pastries. 

Dessert/Oval Spoon 
Essential for puddings, ice cream cakes, and other soft desserts. 

Die Cutting or Sinking 
Process by which a master pattern is reproduced in steel to form a die from which an identical article of a softer metal can be stamped out. 

Dinner Fork 
(Continental Size) 
Larger size and heavier weight than the standard dinner fork. 

Dinner Fork 
All purpose eating utensil for solid foods. 

Dinner Knife 
(Continental Size) 
Larger size and heavier weight than the standard dinner knife. 

Dinner Knife 
All purpose cutting utensil. 

Dinner Knife, Old Style Blade 
Features a longer blade than our standard dinner knife. 

Double Jigger 
Great for measuring liquor for mixed drinks. 

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Base metals coated with pure silver then electrical currents pass through a plating bath which deposits the silver on the base metal. 

Decorating process of working on the back of a piece in relief. 

Designs achieved by cutting the surface of metal by the use of sharp tools, called gravers, which remove small amounts of metal. 

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Fancy Serving Pieces: Click for PDF (18 kb) 

Final Finish 
This hand-polishing step is very precise and affords a smooth, satin finish or a bright mirror finish to the metal. All final polishing is stroked in the direction of the metal’s grain. 

Fish Fork 
Specially designed for eating grilled, baked, or fried fish. 

Fish Knife 
Ideal for cutting delicate fish. 

Fish Serving Knife 
Essential for serving all types of fish. 

Flat/Lasagna/Kugel Server 
Perfect for serving lasagna, raviolis, and casseroles. 

Flatware Banking 
Another form of pressing and cutting a thick slab of metal into rough form. Subsequent additional hammer drops define the flatware before rough and finial finishing. 

Fruit Knife 
An excellent tool for slicing fruits and vegetables. 

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Grapefruit Spoon 
Specially designed for eating grapefruit. 

Gravy Ladle 
Suitable for gravies and sauces. 

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Hammered Finish 
A hammered finish is an uneven finish. 

Hand Spinning 
Craftpersons called spinners actually pull metal over a form to achieve precise curves and contours. In so doing, a force of up to 900 pounds of leverage is sometimes required. 

Hooded Asparagus Server 
Ideal for serving bunches of fresh asparagus. 

Hostess Helper: Click for PDF (24 kb) 

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Ice Cream Fork 
Perfect for ice cream cakes and frozen desserts. 

Ice Cream Scoop 
Equally good for serving sherbet, ice cream, or frozen yogurt. 

Ice Cream Slicer 
Ideal for slicing ice cream cakes as well as custard filled cakes and pies. 

Ice Scoop 
The proper way to scoop ice. 

Ice Tongs 
For serving ice cubes. 

Iced Beverage Spoon 
Specifically designed for tall glasses. 

Individual Steak Knife 
Ideal for cutting steak, ham, or turkey. 

Infant Feeding Spoon 
Spoon tailored for an infant, 3 
6 mos. 

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Jelly Server 
For serving special jams. 

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Large Cheese Scoop 
For soft cheese spreads, fondue cheeses, and shredded cheeses. 

Large Serving Fork, XL 
Excellent for serving meats, poultry and, cold cuts. 

Lemon Fork 
For Serving lemon wedges. 

Lemon/Cheese Server 
Designed to serve small wedges of lemons, limes, and cheeses. 

Lettuce Fork 
Designed as a server for smaller salads. 

Long Handled Olive Fork 
Perfect for larger olives including Greek and marinated olives. 

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Macaroni Server 
Serves equally well for all pasta dishes, including spaghetti, baked ziti, and pasta salads. 

Master Butter Knife 
Ideal for butters and spreads. 

Meat Serving Fork 
Equally good for serving meats, poultry, and tenderloin slices. 

Mustard Ladle 
Ideal for serving special mustard condiments. 

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Napkin Clip 
A wonderful way to hold a napkin in place. 

Nickel Silver 
A metal composition of copper, nickel, and zinc. When used as a base metal for electroplating, it is referred to as E.P.N.S. 

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Old Sheffield Plate 
Made by fusing silver to both sides of a base metal creating a “sandwich”. This method was widely used to produce hollow from 1765 to 1840. 

Olive/Pickle Fork 
Ideal for condiment trays. 

Method used to accentuate the beauty of ornamentation by applying oxide which darkens the metal. Eventually, a natural oxidation will form on all silver as oxygen in the air reacts to metal. 

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Pasta Server 
The best way to serve spaghetti, fettuccine, and fusilli. 

The special soft sheen, color, and feel which develops years after using silver. 

Pie Server 
Stylishly serves seasonal pies. 

Pie Server, XL 
Serves larger pies. 

Pierced Serving Spoon 
Suitable for vegetables and fruits. 

Pierced Serving Spoon 
Pair with large serving fork. 

Pierced Tablespoon 
Perfect for serving foods. 

Place Fork 
Slightly smaller than the dinner fork. 

Place Knife 
Used for cutting or spreading; also known as a luncheon knife. 

Place Knife, Old Style Blade 
Has a longer blade than our standard place knife. 

Place Pieces: Click for PDF (24 kb) 

Place Spoon 
Perfect for cereal, dessert, coffee, ice cream, and fruits. 

Place Spoon (Continental Size) 
Larger size and heavier weight than our standard place spoon. 

Platter Spoon 
Essential for party platters. 

Dies are used in hydraulic presses utilizing as much as 150 tons of pressure to blank or cut unusual designs or geometric shapes that cannot be formed by hand spinning. 

Punch Ladle 
The correct way to serve punch. 

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Process of embossing metal from the back by hammering then giving further definition to the relief by chasing up from the front. Samuel Kirk introduced this process in 1828. 

Rubber Mold Casting 
This casting method utilizes a rubber blank in which a design or item is pressed, leaving its impression in the rubber. Molten metal is then poured in the impression while the mold is spinning at a rapid rate in a centrifuge dispelling all excess slag metal and leaving the metal in the mold impression. 

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Salad Fork 
Slightly smaller than the dinner fork; ideal for a variety of salads. 

Salad Serving Fork 
Pair with the Salad Serving Spoon. 

Salad Serving Spoon 
Pair with the Salad Serving Fork. 

Salad/Berry/Casserole Spoon 
Pair with Salad Serving Fork for serving large salads and casseroles. 

Salt Spoon 
Perfect for salting all entrees. 

Sand Polishing 
A finishing process in which a felt or leather spinning wheel removes all marks, creases, and major porous openings. A sand polisher uses pumice as an abrasive between the spinning wheel and the metal item. 

Sardine Server 
Ideal for serving small delicacies, including sardines, shrimp, and oysters. 

Satin Finish 
A mellow surface luster originally the result of years of hand rubbing by English butlers. Today it is imitated by applying a revolving wire wheel to a silver product. 

Scalloped Berry Spoon 
Designed for serving fresh berries. 

Serving Pieces: Click for PDF (16 kb) 

Serving Tongs 
Serves all kinds of long vegetables, fruits, and meat that have been rolled. 

Serving/Rice Spoon 
All purpose serving spoon. 

Shell/Berry Spoon 
A classic way to serve blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries. 

The attaching of bases, handles, fittings, bowl bodies, etc. by fusing metallic surfaces together with a soldering iron. 

Soup Ladle 
Suitable for soups and stews. 

Soup Spoon (Round Bowl) 
Ideal for hearty soups and stews. 

Steak Carving Fork 
For serving freshly carved meats and poultry. 

Steak Carving Knife 
Serves equally well carving steaks, turkey, tenderloins, or ham. 

Sterling Silver 
Often incorrectly referred to as solid silver, sterling silver is composed of 925 parts of pure silver and 75 parts alloy, usually copper. In England, 925 is always called silver, not sterling. Each sterling piece should show a sterling mark. 

Stuffing Spoon 
For traditional stuffing or mashed potatoes. 

Sugar Spoon 
Essential for sweetening coffee and tea with sugar. 

Sugar Tongs 
For serving sugar cubes. 

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Ideal for hearty soups, stews and platters. 

Tea Strainer 
Perfect for straining hot tea bags and holding loose tea. 

(Continental Size) Larger size and heavier weight than the standard teaspoon. 

Slightly smaller than the place spoon. 

Tomato Server 
Ideal for serving whole tomatoes, sliced tomatoes, or tomato wedges. 

Tomato/Cranberry Server 
Perfect for serving cranberry slices and fresh tomato slices. 

A way to hand-finish metal. This style of polishing removes the course marks left behind by sand polishing, and leaves a smoother finish. 

Troy Weight 
The unit of weight employed by silversmiths. 1 pound equals 14.58 troy ozs. ; 1 standard ounce is .91 troy ozs. 

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Silver which has been gilded. 

How your sterling flatware is made: 

A Brief Overview 

Your sterling silver is crafted with the utmost attention to detail. Below is an outline of the several stages of production that result in the fine sterling flatware you hold in your hand.  

I. Blanking 

A piece of silver is cut (“blanked”) according to the approximate length and width of the intended pattern and finished product (such as a spoon for example). 

II. & III. Grade Rolls 

In the case of the spoon, the “breakdown cross roll” stretches the silver widthwise into the required bowl size. The “breakdown grade roll” stretches the entire piece by 50%. The “finish grade roll” finally stretches the piece by 100%. 

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IV. Cut Out 

Sterling goes through a “cutout” process to remove excess material and prepare it for the striking stage. 

V. Striking Die 

The sterling goes through several striking dies in a hammer press, firmly imprinting the pattern’s details into the piece.  

VI. Trim & Finishing 

Excess silver is trimmed off the piece of flatware, much like trimming dough from the top of a pie prior to baking. The piece of sterling then goes through the sand buff, polishing, inspection, and weighing processes to ensure that the new flatware meets our exacting standards.  

Old Newbury® 

old-newburyOld Newburyís beaded edges and accented top bring a subtle flair to sterling flatware. Much like Bostonís famed Newbury Street, where quiet affluence reigns, Old Newbury is luxurious without being showy. Classic handle shapes combine with an understated design to bring grace to the table. Yankee sensibilities set Old Newbury apart from other sterling designs. Also available with gold accent.  

Queen Elizabeth I® 

queen-elizabethSixteenth-century England was the Golden Age of progress and prosperity. Shakespeare, science, and exploration all came of age under Queen Elizabeth I, as did the art of silversmithing. Some of the finest silver craftsmanship was perfected; Towleís Queen Elizabeth I pattern pays homage to this Golden Age. Delicate flower motifs at the tip and the neck are balanced by sculptured openwork curves.  
The real design of Queen Elizabeth I recalls the royal pomp and splendor of England under Queen Elizabeth’s reign. Also available with gold accent.  

Syratech Corporation 
175 McClellan Hwy. 
East Boston, MA 02128 
MA Tel. 617-561-2200 
Fax 617-568-1528 


The Moulton and Towle Silversmiths By Stillman M. Hobbs 

{From the Hampton’s 1962 “Old Home Day” Program,