Notes on working at Tiffany’s, Newark, NJ, 1905-1950

By Howard Tucker Bailey

Transcribed by Margaret May Bailey, from her collection, February 2007.

This transcription retains misspellings and punctuation errors. Later additions, which Howard interspersed into the original notes, have been italicized to indicate where he supplemented the original narrative. Transcription clarifications are in [brackets]. Some names are spelled more than one way and have been transcribed as written in the original, e.g., Scrivener/Schrivener, Malch/Malsch, and Waterbury/Watherbury.

The notes seem to have been made over a number of years, ending in 1948, two years before Howard died driving to Tiffany’s for his regular work day.


Howard Tucker Bailey

Started in as apprentice silversmith on June 26, 1905

Became a journeyman silversmith on June 26, 1910

Daniel Webster was foreman at the start - but Herman Schmidt had succeeded him in 1908. Later on R. 15 & 18 were combined under Octavius Overath.

Harry Cooper started in 1905
Walter Mitchell came in 1905

Harry Cooper succeeded as foreman, Octavius Overath after being assistant foreman to Herman Schmidt who lost out when rooms 15 & 18 were combined around 1912-14.

Other apprentices serving at that time were, Bennie Lubinski, George Geib, Theopholis Swain, Roland West Scrivener, Arthur Dobbins, Henry Bechtoldt. George Geib later became a mechanic of dentistry. R. W. Schrivener became coppersmith foreman at Wright-Martin’s Aero. Works in Paterson. He died from the copper dust grindings plating his lungs. Henry Bechtoldt became one of the maintain. staff in Soho. Hospital.

Between 1905-1906, Old Man Miller who worked for Jimmie Campbell was hit by an Erie locomotive at Forest Hill station. He died instantly. He was very feeble at walking, so either Old Man Waterbury, or his own daughter, always saw him safely across the tracks but that morning, he was ahead of Waterbury, who lived a few doors away from him on Ridge St. He was alone when he came to the tracks & being hard of hearing didn’t hear the train - never knew what struck him. Webster sent me up to break the news to his family and then docked me 15 minutes pay for being late - two cents.

When W. Mitchell first come over to the factory, he took over the checking-up of the dept. dailey [sic] weigh-cards. He shared Napoleon’s landry [sic] room as office room. That room, off the Stamping Room has since been made in-to a stock room, under Wm. Ferritt.

When President Cook of Tiffany & Co. died, the plant was shut down on the day of the funeral as in respect for him. The time workers were paid for the day but not the piece workers who had to lose the time.

The apprentices from all over the shop were paid off in Winslow’s room, (spoon room) by Leo Kramer, while the journeymen had to form a line through the office court yard & were paid off at the time-keeper’s desk window

Frank Malch was chosen foreman. He had a gas plate arrangement along side of his desk and cooked his dinner there and would send a portion down to the stationary dept. to his daughter Edna who worked there. Any apprentice who happened to be passing through the chasing room would be asked to convey the dinner over to Frank’s daughter. He had such a pleasant manner that one felt honored in being chosen for such as errand.


One day into the chasing room stalked Mr. Han Weber, in a towering race. “Mr. Malsch”, he almost shouted, Look here at this cup that some fool of a chacer spoiled. When they tried to put a monogram on it they discovered it has been chaced with a odd number of divisions. It was chaced some time ago but I want you to look up your records & see what fool chaced it. I’ll certainly give him a good piece of my mind.” (And how he could do that). Later on Mr. Han Weber entered the Chacer’s Room again and said, “Well! Mr. Malsch did you look up that record for me?” “Yes” Mr. Malsch replied, very uneasily. “Well, who is the man who did such a fool things?” “I don’t like to tell you Mr. Han Weber” replied Malsch very unsteadily. “Come, come I insist upon knowing” said Mr. Han Weber. From the very body of his soul Malsch dragged the answer, “It was you, Mr. Han Weber”. Mr. Han Weber gave one shocked Oh! and turned on his heel and left the department, nor did he ever broach the subject again.


Harry Samsel was a special officer at night at Olympic Park in those days. He had an enormous appetite. For his lunch, he would order two cans of lobster, rolls, cake and a bottle of beer, and then scout around right after the noon whistle to pick up the left over from the other fellows. He’d enjoy the sweetened vinegar off home made pickles as though it was high grade wine.

Old Man Dunn had charge of the stock room before Harry Ashmall took charge. The Old Man was very fond of wittling [sic] wooden objects in his spare moments such as wooden fliers, balls in cages etc. His assistant was Jimmy Humphreys who had many amusing ways also.


Did you ever hear about the big crap game that took place in Room 15’s combination gauge, toilet & recreation room? It started out with some of the apprentices just rolling the cubes for fun, then for a few pennies which soon became nickels & dimes & quarters as a few of the older fellows became interested - financially -, Iky Kline, Tommy Fields etc.

Down stairs in the plaster moulding [sic] room, Barker heard the dice rolling across his ceiling & called up Webster, who jumped the game & fired all he cornered in the game but they were all taken back the next day. One of the boys, a mechanic’s weekly wage ahead of the game became alarmed at the size of the stakes & quit the game just in time to escape being caught with the rest. Lucky Mc.___ quit for good too, no more gambling during working hours for him.


When Old Man Hubard told us his nephew was coming over from England, we promptly dubbed his nephew “the nipper” and that name stuck to him after he arrived, a typical English lad, tweeds & box plate camera; & all & his mannerisms stayed with him all the while he was with us. One day down in the guage [sic] & toilet room he attempted to show his prowness [sic] by hanging by his toes on the water pipe overhead. He hung by his toes all right but he was so heavy he couldn’t pull himself up again & hung there suspended in mid-air hollering, “You catch hold of me, I’m falling[“] and after leaving him in a few minutes suspense, we helped him down. You bet he never boasted of his athletic ability after that.


One day Tommy Fields was working on silver necks for cut glass bowls. After soldering the spun [?] neck together he found that the silver wouldn’t go over the neck of the bowl. Some one standing near jokingly advised Tommy to anneal the silver neck over the flange of the cut glass bowl. Without thinking of the consequences Tommy quickly placed the neck while still hot over the bowl flange and was horrified to see the bowl fall apart in a dozen pieces. Needless to say he never tried that method again.

On another occasion, Tommy was standing at the pickle tub pickling out some coffee pots that he had just soldered the handles & spouts on. After washing the loan off the outside, he plunged the first pot into the wash tub water and then tried to our the water our through the spout But none came out. Looking inside he discovered he had soldered the spouts on with out cutting the hole out of the body. Poor Tommy found more haste, less speed. His ambition to be a bantam Boxing Champion brought him many a black eye.


Another coffee pot episode took place later on under Overath’s regime. A certain party, H. Schmidt, got some pots to make. The sketch showed the spout on the side of the pot instead of the front. But that certain party couldn’t believe such a thing as possible so he put the spout on in the usual place & finished up the job only to find that he had erred in his judgement [sic]. In that particular proposition, the spout belonged on the side. The sketch was right even though no one had ever seen a spout on the side of the pot. Just one of those strange things that happens.


Bathless Groggins was personified in the best machine shop foreman we ever had in Tiffany’s even though he didn’t believe in B.O. & considered water mostly necessary under bridges. He Knew the Answers. In his passing, he left few if any ill-wishes behind him.


Harry Ashmall was a special officer up at Electric Park. He often invited the apprentice boys to come up to the Park and would then take them around & saw to it, they were passed into all the shows & attractions without cost to them. He later became foreman of the stock room, which took over the R. 15 silversmith room & later on when the rooms were rearranged his room & office was transferred to its present place off the stamping room. When he was pensioned off he was succeeded by Wm. Ferritt. Harry Ashmall was never noted for his veracity, but rather for his delight in twisting the truth around & making a joke out of it. He was also known for his taking ways but was alway [sic] ready to do a favor for any one who appealed to him. There was quite a few times when men had a mishap with a job and went to Harry & he secured a replacement of a part for them. He was probably the only man who could fenaggle [sic] another part without it being made public.


In those early days of the 1900’s it was a common sight to see Tiffanyites coming to work in a prince albert [frock coat]. Dan Webster always wore a white vest - also, he wore a silk derby. Spats weren’t uncommon either. Watherbury - silversmith wore a prince albert to work.


Like a passing parade, old faces & names come to mind occasionally

- George Waterbury one time silversmith foreman in Prince St. ship, who left to start a 5¢ 10¢ store but was crowded out by Woolworth then returned to work at the bench until he was pensioned off.

- Old George Chandler - Silversmith who was struck & severely hurt by a motor-cycle yet lived to return to work after being laid up for months. His specialty was the chrysanthemum tea set.

- Charlie Gilmore who left to join the chorus men of a skit called The Fashion Plates.

- Joe Donelly who after he went out of his time with to work for the Ledger as a printer.

- Jack Peterson who served as assistant foreman to Webster and likewise for a short time to Schmidt. His hobby was bowling & he could be found almost every night at the White Elephant Alleys in N.Y.

- Dinsill the waiter-maker from Vienna [waiters were serving trays].

- Otto Uhle, who in a fit of despondency took his own life.

- George Voss, who sought Old Man Dunn’s job as in charge of the Stock-room. When Harry Ashmall got the job, George couldn’t take it & quit & opened a candy stand down at Rockaway Beach but later he went back to the bench at a New York shop.

- Chris Glennon, of the plating room, who lost his finger when it caught, scratch brushing a chain. He later went to work for Duponts, been there a good many years. He has been pensioned off there.

- George Barker, foreman of stamping room & his deep bellowing voice.

- Frank Zirden [?], who became truant-officer up in Bloomfield & still holds down the job - that Frank has been retired on a pension by Bloomfield.

- Gene Dulgie spoonmaker, who after he was pensioned off, went around selling soaps, etc.


What will always remain a blot on the name of Tiffany & Co. in their dealings with their employees, was the case of William Liscomb & Wm. McCoy, Jr. who worked in the spoon-room under Winslow, -Klueffer being assistant foreman. It seems that Liscomb & McCoy were short in their silver weigh and although there was no proof that they had stolen the silver it was determined that they should be made an example off [sic] as a warning and they were told that until they repaid $5.00 each, they would be laid off. After a months idleness Liscomb paid the penalty for both victims and they were permitted to resume work again at their enormous salaries of $9.00 per week.

Such branding of men as thieves without proof was unjustified and has left a scar on the name of Tiffany & Co. in the minds of their employees, that time has failed to efface. It might be mentioned & noted that shortly after the above occurrence, the assistant foreman was caught redhanded in a New York pawn ship by detectives as he was trying to get rid of some flat ware he had extracted out of the spoon-room safe to which he had ready access in his capacity of assistant foreman.

It is a terrible thing to brand an innocent man as a thief as many a hasty concern have found out to their sorrow.


Jan. 1945 - Billie Liscomb is now up in Overbrook

Jan. 1946 - Bill Liscomb has been back at work for a few months now. Shortly after he was pensioned off.


When Liscomb found a quite valuable pkg. of diamonds in the waste paper sent over from the store to be burned up & turned them over to the firm, the store caller [store called &] wanted to know what reward to give Liscomb but Mitchell said, “No reward needed, the man only did his duty”.


Old Chas. Tiffany called his men by the title, artisans, and paid them the enormous sum of twelve to sixteen dollars for a 59 hour week. Apprentices were paid $1.50 the first year and a dollar increase each year after the first jump to four dollars. In their fifth year they earned six dollars per week but turned out a man’s amount of work. If they completed five years satisfactory service they rec’d $100.00 which had been mostly taken out of their pay during their first year as an apprentice. When the men went out on strike in 1901 they promised the boys that if they would go out with them they would make good the hundred dollars which they boys would be forfeiting but that promise was not kept. The plan to hold a raffle for each boy as he went out of his time fell down sadly. Many of the men refused to take a quarter chance when the time came along so the result was that few of the boys were reimbursed to any great amount of the loss.


Danker the spoon maker sported a high silk hat and all that went with it on 15 dollars per week. Herman Schmidt was quite a dandy when he donned his high silk hat & cane - looked like a million dollars.


In 1905 - the line up of rooms was (silver shop)

1st floor

Jimmy Campbell - Repair

Frank Siebert - Finishing

Chris Ochse - Machine Shop

Talcott - Engine Room

F. Barker - Stamping

Winslow - Spoon room

Sullivan - Carpenter shop

2nd floor

J. Thoma [Thomas?] - Designing

R. Girsch - Die Sinker

F. Malsch - Chacer

Swamby - Finishing-Engraving

Horace Smith - Plating

Dan [D. Wm.?] Webster - Silversmith

Fred Peterson - Spinner

Dunn - Stockroom

O. Overath - Silversmith

The German silver dept. was in the South wing of the building mostly on the second floor undr. Cradshaw.


Silversmiths who were employed by Tiffany & Co. and who died since 1905


Year Died







Billy Page






G. Waterbury


G. Noble




Marty Sarin


H. Huband Sr.




Lackner Sr.


Lubinski Sr.


F. Montville


Otto Bellman










Billy Evens


John Lurinski






Schmellen Burger


Bill Haker


Gus Becker


Frank Barbour








W. Harper

Jack Ochse


Otto Uhle

Jack Peterson

O. [G.?] Kraft

Joe Buckley


G. Dauler

Bill Huband

Fred Will

H. Samsel


A. Dobbins




I. Hegeman







Roland W. Scrivner


Harry Richards


Octavios Overath


G. Overath


Tony Stein


Albert White


George Shart


Harry Frohmer


Chris Johnson


Ruddy Kistner


Arthur Adams


Arthur Hill





When Tiffany & Co. moved their plant out to Jersey from New York City - Mr. Winslow was foreman of the Spoonroom. His salary was cut from thirty dollar [sic] per week down to twenty-five dollars - a cut of five dollars. Soon after a banquet was given to Mr. Moore, who was president of the firm. Mr. Winslow made a nice speech there and afterwards Mr. Moore spoke to Mr. Winslow & commended him on it. (It seems that Mr. Moore thought quite highly of Mr. Winslow and often stopped in his shop inspection to shake hands with him a stop for a little chat.) Mr. Winslow thought it a good opportunity to speak of his having been out $5.00 in salary and Mr. Moore replied & assured that he had not known of the incident and that he would see to it that the cut would be restored to Mr. Winslow which was done to Mr. Winslow’s satisfaction & gratification.


The story is told of how a possibly good idea was side tracked - with the object to discredit R. Giersh who stood in the way of the ambition of a certain few. It is told that Giersh designed a bronz [sic] die & force which seemed capable of great possibilities. The trial was to be made in the spoon room on the large hand-power-drop. But before the trial, two men, one from the machine ship - J.P. - and one from the stamping room C.M. loosened the slides on the drop. Then when M. set the dies up & tried them out, it was impossible to hold the mitre & there for the proposition was condemned & discarded and the dies lay around for a few years & finally disappeared. When the drop was next set up for spoon room work by C.S. he had great trouble with his mitre until he recalled seeing those two men loosening the slides. When he had the slides tightened, his mitre troubles disappeared. “Just a sample of what has only too often been connived, in the course of the years.” - one man advancing by belittling another & perhaps better man. The years have been full of like instances in this plant.


Bill Ferrett started-in in 1928.



Harry Ashmall came into the shop to-day on a little visit. He will be 82 years old April 29. He is spry & hasn’t lost his mannerisms of old. He told us a few anecdotes of days gone by. One of them was of an occasion when Cooper, silversmith foreman, discovered one of the men under him making a german silver cup during his lunch hour.

H. Cooper was determined to have the man fired, forgetting the different times he had taken advantage of a machinist’s unwritten privilege of the trade. (Personally, I remember him making a Gillette safety razor out of german silver when they first came out in the early 1900s - 1906 to be exact. That was while Dan Webster was foreman).

Anyway to get back to Ashmall’s yarn. The man when he was discovered making the cup & knowing he was to be fired, went to Ash mall & appealed to his good offices. Ashmall hurried down to the office & had Mrs. Larribee make out a cash sale slip for the german silver & predate it two weeks. Then it was hurriedly placed among Cooper’s orders and “discovered” there. That ruse of course saved the day & the matter was dealt with on that basis to Cooper’s chagrin.


Every little while one of the old-timers when the Old Supt. or Manager Parcell’s name comes up in discussion refers back to him & the old rumors of his chisling [sic] on the firm & men especially the older hands who worked piece work & went home often with 8 to 10 dollars as a week’s wages for a 59 hour week plus O.T. (Old Man Hammerly etc.) while Willie Frances would make a weekly deposit in the Newark bank for Parcell to the amount of three to four hundred dollars. Just a coincidence? Other stories of a like nature floated around years ago in the early 1900’s concerning others in authority but they were never fulfilled after W. Mitchell took over management.