December 16, 2015

Aikin Lambert history

  , following the names.


[Posted on L&P on Aug 7, 11, 2009.]
        Marta Michnej wrote that she found that the Aikin Lambert company was one whose history was not well known.  She posted the above Aikin Lambert invoice dated 1895 because she was intrigued by the names in the first line.  She knew the main names connected with the company, James C. Aikin and Henry A. Lambert, but there were also John B. Shea as vice-president and James C. Wakefield as secretary.  She wondered who these other two were.  In a similar invoice dated 1911 both of these other names and Chicago’s address disappeared, and the N. Y. address also changed from 19 Maiden Lane to 15-17-19 Maiden Lane, but she was thinking mostly about the names.  She recalled how all the company changes, connections, and permutations were complicated in David Moak’s Mabie in America, and how exciting it was to follow how one man was involved in many companies and activities.  She wondered about starting a game to find the penmaker or inventor who was involved with the most pen companies and makers.
        And I wrote, “In return for posting the invoice from 1895, here’s some more info from the Penmakers book.  I don’t have any info on James C. Wakefield, but John B. Shea is there.  Shea was an early penmaker at Aikin, Lambert & Co., and was listed as such in the city business directories for New York throughout the 1860s.  He lived at 33 Vandewater in New York up until at least the 1890s, and perhaps later.  He was probably a skilled penmaker and a trusted, long-standing employee who became a business partner in the firm in his later years, and was rewarded with becoming the vice-president of the company.  Perhaps Wakefield was a similar early employee.  They disappeared from the 1911 letterhead because they both retired by then.
        “J. C. Aikin & Co. started as a jewelry shop that branched off into the specialty of making gold pens and pencil cases, and the name was soon changed to Aikin, Lambert & Co. when Lambert joined the co-partnership.  Its address was originally 14 Maiden Lane, New York, but they quickly moved across the street to 15-19 Maiden Lane.  They used 15, and 17, and 19 separately as their street addresses throughout the years, but I think they always had that solid block of street numbers.  They also used the address 23 Maiden Lane in the 1880s.  They had a branch office in Chicago quite early on, since at least 1871, but I don’t think it was more than just an office and stock warehouse, and certainly not a manufactory.  That’s just an old-fashioned word for factory that I found in the old city business directories.  The company was incorporated under the new name Aikin, Lambert & Co. in May 1889.  It was taken over by L. E. Waterman Co. in 19o2 and reorganized, and the name was changed to Aikin-Lambert Co.  There’s more detail in the book.
        “As for your “game” idea to find the penmaker involved with the most companies, I wouldn’t even venture a guess because there were so many pen company hoppers amongst the penmakers.  They were a real incestuous lot, and since most of them were located in the penmaking district on or near Maiden Lane, maybe we should call them “The Promiscuous Maiden Lane Merchants”.”

George Kovalenko.