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Austin Homer papers

1933-1962
 Collection
Accession: 1522

Abstract

Austin Homer (1896-1974) was president of J.E. Caldwell Company, jewelers, silversmiths, and antiquarians in Philadelphia. Homer was a well-known business executive and was recognized as one of the nation's foremost authorities on contemporary and antique silver. He was also involved in designing children's toys. His papers consists of correspondence, speeches, patents, notebooks, and sketches while he was president of J.E. Caldwell Inc., and correspondence, contracts, sketches, and prototypes when he was a toy designer.

Dates

  • 1933-1962

Creator

Extent

155 item(s)

Biographical Note

Austin Homer (1896-1974) was president of J.E. Caldwell Company, jewelers, silversmiths, and antiquarians in Philadelphia. Homer was a well-known business executive and was recognized as one of the nation's foremost authorities on contemporary and antique silver. He was also involved in designing children's toys.

A native of Philadelphia, Homer spent his entire business career with the Caldwell firm. Beginning as a stockboy in 1913, he rose rapidly to become a salesman and then a buyer and head of the sterling and antique silver departments. In 1941, he was elected secretary of the company. He served for a year and a half as executive vice president prior to his appointment as president in 1952. Homer held that position until 1963, when he was named vice chairman of the board. After retiring as president, he acted as an independent silver consultant and remained a director for several years.

Homer attended the University of Pennsylvania, but did not earn a degree. He served in the U.S. Army during World War I. During the 1920s and 1930s, he worked closely with former Caldwell president, Charles W. Oakford, in developing the antique silver business. Homer made frequent trips to England and Europe in search of rare antique items. He was recognized as an expert in the field and helped to form many silver collections. He also advised several large manufacturing firms on the design of contemporary flatware and holloware. For many years, he served on the jury for an annual national contest for original silver design sponsored by the Silversmiths Guild of America.

The J.E. Caldwell Company prospered under his direction. Homer was responsible for establishing branch stores at the Hotel du Pont in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1953, and in Haverford, Pennsylvania, in 1954. In addition to expanding the antique silver business, Homer founded the store's antique furniture department, for which he made many purchases on his European trips.

During the 1940s, Homer became involved in designing children's toys. He held patents on several popular toys which were manufactured by the Plakie Corporation, Youngstown, Ohio.

Scope and Contents

The Austin Homer (1896-1974) papers consists of correspondence, speeches, patents, notebooks, and sketches while he was president of J.E. Caldwell Inc., jewelers in Philadelphia, and correspondence, contracts, sketches, and prototypes when he was a toy designer.

Papers while Homer was president at J.E. Caldwell, include items related to trips, dealers and suppliers, drawings for various silver products (pitchers, money clips, ornaments, etc.), patents, and speeches given by Homer.

Papers from Homer as a toy designer include letters to and from Plakie Toys Inc., and its parent company Hoover Products Inc., both of Youngstown, Ohio, and of other companies including International Silver Company (Wallingford, Connecticut); also patent correspondence, assignment, contracts, agreements, and royalty statements; sketches and notes; corporate prospectus, financial reports, proxies and notices for Plakie Toys; and trade lists, brochures, newsclippings, and personal miscellany.

Access Restrictions

No restrictions on access; this collection is open for research.

Language of Materials

English


Additional Information

Related Names

Creator

Finding Aid & Administrative Information

Title:
Austin Homer papers
Status:
Description rules:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description:
English
Script of description:
Latin

Revision Statements

  • 2021: Ashley Williams

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Contact:
PO Box 3630
Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA
302-658-2400