December 30, 2017 2 min read

The best current scholarship indicates that Bailey & Co. only made their own silver for a short period between about 1852 and about 1862. 

Before that date, they were principally supplied by Taylor and Lawrie, another fine Philadelphia silver firm whose pseudo hallmarks are typically seen on their silver. (As well as on silver sold by their predecessor firm, Bailey & Kitchen.)

After about 1862, they were principally supplied by George Sharp until about 1870 when it appears they increased the number of makers whose work they retailed.

According to David Barquist, The H. Richard Dietrich, Jr., Curator of American Decorative Arts at The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Sharp moved into Taylor and Lawrie's facility immediately after they left. Hence Sharp was in charge of Bailey's operation immediately after Bailey's split with Taylor & Lawrie. 

As Sharp was their shop superintendent, the silver made is correctly identified as "Bailey & Co." silver and does not become "George Sharp (for Bailey & Co.)" until after about 1862 when starts his own shop.

According to Barquist, Taylor and Lawrie does not immediately cease operations after the split but continues to advertise for a brief period that they can supply Bailey & Co. flatware.  



In the early 1850s, Bailey & Co.'s coin silver pieces (which is marked by an eagle, 'U' and shield) sometimes include other marks - a star and occasionally an elephant.  Do these marks indicate an outside supplier or maker (Taylor & Lawrie?) or something internal like a 'journeyman's mark' on British silver.  We don't know.

From this information, we can infer that the extra lions that appear about 1855 are associated with the sterling standard, not George Sharp.  This is confusing as they are the same lion marks that Sharp used when he went out on his own.  But as Bailey's superintendent, Sharp was responsible for the silver made with Bailey's coin mark as well as the sterling marks.  It was all Bailey's silver.

Over the years, we've had pieces with Bailey's coin silver mark, see:

Pieces that are sterling from Bailey & Co., see:

link to Bailey cup

There are also pieces which could come from either the Bailey & Co. period or the George Sharp period:

Bailey compote

Bailey basket

Some dated pieces can be clearly identified as George Sharp for Bailey & Co.  See:

All now in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  See (some with better photos):|7


We will continue to add to this listing over time.



David Barquist, discussions April 2018. Also see the upcoming first volume of the catalog of silver from The Philadelphia Museum of Art, expected publication fall 2018.

D. Albert Soeffing, "George B. Sharp, A Victim of the Panic of 1873", in Silver Magazine, March/ April 2004.

D. Albert Soeffing, "Some Bailey & Co. Marks and Their Significance", in Silver Magazine, November/ December 1995.

 Dorothy Rainwater & Judy Redfield, Encyclopedia of American Silver Manufacturers: Revised Fourth Edition