As an auction house with roots in Meriden, Connecticut, Nest Egg Auctions is the premier place to buy and sell objects made in Meriden. In the mid 19th to early 20th century, Meriden was a major manufacturing and commercial center. Objects from silverware to art glass were made in the Silver City. Of all the companies in Meriden, however, perhaps none is more universally known and loved than Bradley & Hubbard.
The Bradley and Hubbard Manufacturing Company has its origins in 1852, when it was founded by a group of businessmen led by Nathaniel Lyman Bradley and Walter Hubbard. By 1854, Mr. Bradley and Mr. Hubbard had become the majority owners. The company grew rapidly, and soon was selling their wares throughout the country. “B & H”, as it is affectionately known, had offices in the major cities of the United States, and was the major driver of Meriden’s growth as an industrial center. According to an 1896 biography of Nathaniel Bradley, Meriden’s population had exploded from 3,000 in 1852 to 30,000 by 1896.
The Products of Bradley & Hubbard
Bradley & Hubbard made a variety of products, from figural cast iron doorstops to clocks and even letter holders. They are best known today, however, for their incredible lamps. Bradley & Hubbard started with oil and gas (kerosene) lamps, and developed electric lamps in the late 19th century. These electric lamps, especially their table lamps, are among Meriden’s proudest creations. Bradley & Hubbard were often made of gilt cast bronze, with an elaborate base and a large slag glass shade.
The designs on the lamp base and shade were often inspired by the artistic movements in vogue at the time. From classical inspired imagery, like meanders and torches, to Art Nouveau flourishes, Bradley & Hubbard lamps set the standard for lamp production in Meriden and the wider United States. Unlike Handel Lamps, which were also made in Meriden, B & H’s shades were not usually painted, featuring the flowing beauty of slag glass.
The Afterlife of Bradley & Hubbard
Both Nathaniel Bradley and Walter Hubbard were philanthropists. Hubbard is best known in Central Connecticut for the donation of a large plot of park land in Meriden, now called Hubbard Park. Its most famous feature, a stone tower called Castle Craig, overlooks the park and is a lasting symbol of Bradley & Hubbard’s great status in Meriden’s history.
Unfortunately, even a major manufacturer like Bradley & Hubbard could not survive the effects of World War II. The company was bought out by its Meriden rival, the Charles Parker Company, in 1940, and the exalted brand fell into obscurity. This has changed in recent decades, however, as the products of Bradley & Hubbard are sold at auction for incredible premiums. A good Bradley and Hubbard lamp, restored to working condition with an original shade in good condition, can command a significant price.
Nest Egg Auctions and Bradley & Hubbard
Nest Egg Auctions, as the premier seller of Meriden Made objects, has a deep and special appreciation for the wonderful pieces made by Bradley & Hubbard. We have sold countless pieces throughout our history; almost every one of our auctions has at least one object from B & H, often a lamp. We know the history of these pieces, and we respect it. More than anything, Nest Egg desires to continue Bradley & Hubbard’s legacy by spreading their wonderful products to a new generation of collectors.