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Samuel Kirk & Son, Inc. papers

Identifier: MS 2720


This collection consists of Board of Directors' meeting minutes (1896-1966), financial data (1902-1979), production records (1868-1978), employee records (1890-1957), material on the various real estate properties of the company (1892-1963), legal papers 91896-1971), retail data (1834-1974), Kirk publications 91914-1959), and Kirk family material (1844-1970). Also included are the records of the Kirk Silver Traveling Exhibition (1940-1979) and the Kirk Realty Company, a subsidiary responsible for managing Kirk property. The papers include essays and information on the history of the company. An uneven scattering of correspondence spans 1843-1978.


  • 1834-1979


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright clearances or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information visit the MCHC’s Rights and Permissions page.

Biographical Sketches

Samuel Kirk

Samuel Kirk was born on 15 February 1793 in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, the fifth child of Joseph Kirk, a carpenter, and Grace (Child) Kirk. He was educated at a Friends' school until the age of 17 when he was apprenticed to James Howell, a Philadelphia silversmith. In 1815 Kirk completed his apprenticeship and, declining an offer to join Howell's firm, he moved to Baltimore. In this growing port city Kirk established his shop on Market (now Baltimore) St. and took John Smith as a partner. Early products include spoons, tea urns and pitchers.

Kirk married Albina Powell (1796-1865) on 18 March 1817. She was the daughter of Joshua and Margaret (Carpenter) Powell. They had eleven children, three of whom joined their father in the silver business. Only one son, Henry Child Kirk, remained in the firm.

The partnership with Smith was dissolved in 1821 but Kirk continued alone, creating high quality products and attracting such clients as Lafayette and the Bonapartes. About 1825 Kirk introduced the repousse style in his silverware and initiated repousse flatware around 1845. This technique was to become synonymous with the Kirk name in the future.

Samuel Kirk died on 5 July 1872. Henry Child Kirk, who had been made a partner in 1846, continued the business in his father's place.

Henry Child Kirk, Sr.

Born on 9 February 1826, Henry Child Kirk, Sr. was the sixth child of Samuel and Albina (Powell) Kirk. At age sixteen, Henry began to train as a silversmith in his father's shop. He not only developed his craftsmanship, but also served as bookkeeper, salesman and buyer, traveling to New York and other cities.

In 1846 he became a full partner with his father, changing the name of the company to Samuel Kirk & Son. He took over the business after his father's death in 1872.

During Henry Child Kirk, Sr.'s association with the firm, the volume of business greatly increased, along with improvements in methods of production and the use of machinery. In 1890 Kirk's son, Henry Child Kirk, Jr., was admitted as a partner. The complexity of the firm's activities led to its incorporation in 1896 with Kirk, Sr. as President.

Henry Child Kirk, Sr., was a prolific traveler. He took his first of many trips to Europe in 1856 and journeyed throughout the United States, including the far West. When in Baltimore, he was active in civic and church affairs. For more than fifty years he was Treasurer of the Franklin Street Presbyterian Church.

Henry Child Kirk, Sr. was married three times. His wives were Virginia Elizabeth Kent Hardesty (died 1855), Lucy Ann Strother Buckner (died 1876), and Elizabeth Hemsworth Hollins (died 1900). He had five children, of whom his son, Henry Child Kirk, Jr., carried on the family business after the death of his father on 1 August 1914.

Henry Child Kirk, Jr.

The fourth child and only son of HCK, Sr., Henry Child Kirk, Jr. was born on 16 December 1868. Following family tradition he joined his father in the silver business in 1890. It was Henry Child Kirk, Jr. who was instrumental in saving the company records and design patterns from the Baltimore fire of 1904.

At the death of Henry Child Kirk, Sr. in 1914, a trust agreement went into effect regarding the management of the company. In 1924 the terms of the trust had been fulfilled and it was terminated by a unanimous decision. Henry Child Kirk, Jr. became the company's President and Treasurer.

Kirk, Jr. led the company into the twentieth century. The retail shop moved into new quarters on Charles Street and the manufacturing division relocated to the corner of what is now Kirk Ave. and Twenty-fifth Street. Deviating from the policy of the company's founder, Kirk, Jr. advocated newspaper advertising to promote the business. A network of agents was established to sell Kirk products nationwide.

Henry Kirk, Jr. married Edith Huntemuller in 1891 and had three daughters. He died on 28 February 1932 leaving the business to his nephew, Martin Laurence Millspaugh.

Martin Laurence Millspaugh

M. L. Millspaugh was the first president of Samuel Kirk and Son, Inc. who was not specifically trained as a silversmith. He was born on 8 March 1884 on a cattle ranch in Kansas, the middle child of Alice Virginia Kirk Millspaugh and nephew of Henry Child Kirk, Jr. He was educated at the University of Illinois as a mechanical engineer and spent the early part of his career working for a Canadian steel company.

After serving in World War I, Millspaugh became a consulting engineer in Chicago, then joined an architectural firm. He entered the investment and banking business with his brother-in-law which served him well when he was elected to the Board of Directors of Samuel Kirk & Son, Inc. in 1924.

At the death of his uncle in 1932, Millspaugh was elected President of the Kirk Company, and later became Chairman of the Board. He guided the company through the World War II years, when raw materials and production were tightly controlled, and was instrumental in the expansion of the company's retail outlets in the 1950s.

M. L. Millspaugh married Elisabeth Park in 1921 and had three children. At his death on 7 March 1964, his son, Samuel Kirk Millspaugh, took his place in the family business.

Samuel Kirk Millspaugh

Born on 27 July 1930, Samuel Kirk Millspaugh, began working at the family firm at age 13. He was first elected to the Board of Directors in 1959 when he was also named Vice-President of Advertising and Public Relations. The following year he was designated Vice-President of Sales and Advertising.

In 1966, two years after his father had died, S.K. Millspaugh bought a controlling interest (80%) in the company. A period of reorganization took place which resulted in changing the family business to a public corporation by 1969. S. K. Millspaugh directed the acquisition of several subsidiary companies during the early 1970's. He became Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer in 1972. He was still head of the company when it merged with the Stieff Company in 1979.

S. K. Millspaugh married Mary Josephine Bentley Offutt in 1955. They had two daughters and a son.

Historical Note

Baltimore's prominent silver manufacturing company, Samuel Kirk & Son, dates its beginning to 1815 when Philadelphia-trained Samuel Kirk finished his apprenticeship under James Howell and moved to Baltimore. Attracted by the prosperous port, Kirk opened his shop at 212 Market Street (later known as 106 Baltimore Street) with fellow silversmith, John Smith. After the partnership was dissolved in 1821, Samuel Kirk carried on the business alone until his eldest son, Henry Child Kirk, became a partner in 1846.

During this early period Kirk introduced to America the repousse treatment for silverware. "Repousse" means "formed in relief" and refers to a pattern which is beaten or pressed up from the reverse side. Kirk's technique was probably inspired by East India silversmiths, but his patterns were uniquely his own. Eventually he applied this technique to flatware as well as other pieces.

The company prospered greatly. In 1820 Maria Hester Monroe, daughter of President James Monroe, was married in the White House. She chose Kirk Mayflower as her silverware pattern. During his 1824 tour of the United States, General Lafayette ordered a pair of goblets for his Baltimore host, David Williamson. Many of Maryland's prominent families, such as the Carrolls, the Ellicotts and the Ridgelys, were among Kirk's customers.

In 1861 and 1863, respectively, two more sons, Charles Douglas and Edwin Clarence Kirk, were admitted as partners, changing the firm's name to Samuel Kirk & Sons. The Civil War and its aftermath created an economic slump in the silver business causing Charles and Edwin to become discouraged. When they withdrew from the partnership, the firm reverted to the name Samuel Kirk & Son.

Samuel Kirk died in 1872 leaving the business to Henry Child Kirk. The firm's technology advanced as hand-wrought repousse methods were replaced by the use of cylindrical steel rolls and eventually flat steel dies. The repousse patterns were cut in reverse in a steel die, then stamped on the softer silver with a heavy drop hammer.

Following family tradition, Kirk's son, Henry Child Kirk, Jr., was admitted as a partner in 1890. Six years later (1896) the firm was incorporated with Henry Child Kirk, Sr., as president, William Higgins Conkling (Kirk's son-in-law) as vice-president, James F. H. Maginn as secretary and Frederick W. Kakel as treasurer.

Business continued to prosper as the firm's clientele spread beyond Maryland. Customers included the Belmonts, Astors and Roosevelts of New York; the Lowells, Peabodys and Adamses from Boston; the Biddles, Cadwalladers and Ingersolls from Philadelphia; and the Hamptons, Lees and Davises from the South.

The company suffered severe blows in 1903 and 1904 from two separate fires. At 9:30 AM on June 30, 1903 a fire ignited when gasoline leaking from a tank in the cellar came into contact with the furnace. Much stock and equipment in the workshop were lost but, fortunately, most of the business records and designs were saved.

The firm had barely recovered when the great Baltimore fire of 1904 struck on February 7. Again, vital records and patterns were saved by a quick arrangement between Henry Child Kirk, Jr. and the express company manager across the street. They used express wagons and Kirk employees to save the records of both businesses.

Samuel Kirk & Sons moved into temporary quarters at 309 North Charles Street until a new building could be completed on the site of the one destroyed. The factory began operating again in May 1904 at Guilford and Girard Avenues, then moved to the Baltimore Street building in June 1905. The retail store re-opened there in November.

The beginning of the twentieth century witnessed several changes in the company. In the nineteenth century business had been generated primarily by word of mouth as the founder felt that advertising was associated with commercialism. Placing the company into more modern times at their November 1911 meeting, the Board of Directors authorized spending $1,000 for advertising in the Baltimore newspapers. An additional $1,000 was approved for advertising in September 1912. Samuel Kirk & Son's first retail silverware catalog was produced in 1914 and their first national advertisements appeared in the October 1937 issues of House Beautiful and House and Garden.

In 1911 the company directors began discussing the concept of selling their goods at wholesale prices to authorized dealers, but it was not until 1915 that this method of national distribution began. Another innovation was the purchase in October 1913 of the firm's first automobile delivery wagon.

Henry Child Kirk, Sr. died in 1914 and left a deed of trust placing the business in the hands of five trustees. At the termination of the trust agreement in 1924, the company was reorganized as Samuel Kirk & Son, Incorporated with Henry Child Kirk, Jr. as president and treasurer, James F. H. Maginn as vice-president and assistant treasurer, William Higgins Conkling, Jr. (great-grandson of Samuel Kirk) as secretary, and Roderick Douglas Donaldson (grandson-in-law of Samuel Kirk), Martin Laurence Millspaugh (great-grandson of Samuel Kirk), and Charles Markell as directors. Robert E. Coughlan was elected a member of the board soon after.

In addition, the Kirk Realty Corporation was created in 1923 to manage the real estate concerns of the company. A lease was signed with Mano Swartz in October of that year for the four-story building under construction at Charles and Franklin Streets. Swartz agreed to make changes in the building (at Kirk's expense) to accommodate the new tenant's retail operations. At the same time, construction commenced on a new facility at Twenty-Fifth St. and Taylor St. (now Kirk Ave.) for the purpose of handling the wholesale and manufacturing divisions.

The Great Depression of the 1930's had its effect on all businesses including Samuel Kirk & Son, Inc. In spite of the poor economy, the number of agents selling Kirk silver continued to increase and several improvements were made to the factory. Kirk stock generally continued to pay quarterly dividends.

During World War II, Samuel Kirk & Son, Inc. became very involved with the war effort. The War Production Board closely regulated what and how much could be manufactured. Wages and work weeks were controlled. Silver bullion and other raw materials were rationed. In February 1942 Kirk received its first war contract from Liberty Motors and Engineering Corp. Other contracts followed with many companies including American Hammered Piston Ring, Standard Gas Equipment, and Western Electric for manufacturing surgical instruments, metal hardware or performing services such as silver soldering. Production and price controls remained in effect past World War II until the Korean conflict ended in 1953.

The prosperous post-war 1950's saw a shift of population to the suburbs and the rise of shopping centers. Following this trend, Samuel Kirk & Son, Inc. opened a branch store in Edmondson Village on June 2, 1953. A second branch opened in Towson, Md. on May 6, 1958. By the early 1960's, however, the retail division was lagging behind the wholesale operation. Kirk closed their three retail stores in January 1963, having arranged to lease retail space in three Stewart & Company stores: downtown, York Road, and Reisterstown Road. The retail division of Kirk closed completely in 1975. The leases were allowed to expire at the Stewart & Company outlets and the department store absorbed Kirk's retail functions into their own operations.

Late in 1966, S. Kirk Millspaugh, great-great-grandson of the founder, gained a controlling interest in the company by purchasing 80% of the outstanding shares of stock. The Kirk Corporation, as it became known, acted as a holding company which owned several subsidiaries including the original Samuel Kirk & Son, Inc. It began to diversify its interests by acquiring the Coastal Trailer Corporation in the late 1960's and Studebaker Southern, Inc., a Florida-based manufacturer of mobile homes, in 1969.

It was hoped that these companies would provide greater financial opportunities and help maintain overall financial stability during periods of fluctuating economic conditions. However, the anticipated advantages failed to materialize. There was little technical or management crossover between companies which resulted in differences in policies and objectives. A construction slump in 1974-1975 compounded the problem. Studebaker Southern, Inc. was terminated in 1972 and Coastal Trailer Corp. was sold off to its original owners in a 1975-1976 reorganization of the parent company.

Other acquisitions by the Kirk Corp. were more successful due to the similarity of their products: Eisenberg-Lozano, Inc. (an importer of silver plate, stainless and pewter holloware) in 1970 and A. L. Hanle, Inc. (a manufacturer of pewter holloware) in 1971. The name of the latter was changed to Kirk Pewter, Inc. in 1972 and Eisenberg-Lozano became Kirk International, Inc. in 1973. The Kirk Collection was established in 1972 for the production of limited edition collector's pieces. The following year it ceased to be a subsidiary and became a trade style of Samuel Kirk & Son, Inc.

In 1968 the Samuel Kirk Museum, Inc. was founded to display Kirk artifacts and develop educational programs on the silver, gold and pewter crafts. The collection was exhibited at the Peale Museum when in Baltimore, but was frequently on tour to art museums throughout the world.

By 1979 the Kirk Corporation found itself in difficult circumstances. The reorganization of 1976 had cost the company a $600,000 commercial loan which increased the company's interest charges and decreased the capital base available for current operations or expansions. The cost of the company's essential raw materials, silver and tin, began to skyrocket and the wildly speculative silver commodity market made it almost impossible to price Kirk's products to meet dealer orders. In addition, the company's manufacturing and office facilities had become severely cramped and a great deal of machinery and equipment needed to be replaced. The high cost of real estate, construction and machinery coupled with the company's reduced financial resources brought the matter to a head.

The Stieff Company, a Baltimore silver and pewter manufacturer since 1892, offered to purchase the assets of the Kirk Corporation. The two companies drew up a proposal which combined management personnel and allowed for the continued production of the Kirk line. The shareholders approved the merger on 10 October 1979 and a new company was born under the name of The Kirk Stieff Company.


74.86 Linear Feet (88 boxes and 11 shelves of volumes)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Kirk Stieff Co. in August 1985.

Scope and Contents

The chief divisions of the Samuel Kirk & Son Business Records include material on the Kirk family and history of the company, Board of Directors' meeting minutes, financial data, production and employee records, property data and legal papers. There is a separate series that contains the records of the Kirk Realty Company, a subsidiary responsible for managing Kirk property.

The FAMILY series (1844-1970) consists primarily of the state papers of several descendants of Samuel Kirk. The bulk revolves around the estate of Henry Child Kirk, Jr. There is a scattering of correspondence regarding family news and financial affairs. Some personal items are present, such as the Bible and passports (1856-1884) belonging to Henry Child Kirk, Sr. One folder contains material on “Wadefield”, an estate in Virginia owned by the Kirk family and eventually used as a rental property.

The HISTORICAL DATA series contains much useful information on the background of the company. There are short essays on the Kirk family and the development of the business. Of special note is a chronological list of “Company Important Events” (1925-1979) which includes personnel changes, facility expansions and improvements, production and marketing innovations, technical advances, and the impact of national and world events upon the company. There is material tracing the development of Kirk silverware patterns and manufacturing techniques. Some information is included on Kirk's 150th anniversary and their claim to be America's oldest silversmiths. The miscellaneous folder contains essays on the history of knives, forks and spoons and includes instructions (1937) for table settings.

The next series contains CERTIFICATES OF INCORPORATION and various amendments from 1923-1957.

The CORRESPONDENCE series consists of an incomplete and uneven gathering of letters spanning 1843-1978. Primary topics relate to historical Kirk pieces, silver analyses and the internal management of the company.

Much of the company's official business is recorded in the MEETING MINUTES series (1896-1966). The Board of Directors' Monthly Meetings (1896-1929) consist of the by-laws (1896) of the Samuel Kirk & Son Company, Incorporated, Treasurer's reports and the Superintendent of the Workshop's reports on production, wages, sales, and policy decisions. Of particular interest are Henry Child Kirk, Sr.'s inventory of property to be sold in return for shares of capital stock and an Aug. 1, 1903 inventory of the wall and counter display cases in connection with the 1903 fire.

The Stockholders' Annual Meeting Minutes (1897-1931) contain their by-laws (1913, 1914), the President's and Treasurer's reports on the financial condition of the company and the value of their stocks. Also included are reports on production from the workshop. After 1931 the Board of Directors meetings and the stockholders meetings are combined. The minutes for 1937 contain

some amendments to the company's charter. Minutes of the Management Committee (1960-1963) and the Retirement Committee (1944-1956) are also found in this series.

The ANNUAL MEETING DATA series (1936-1976) consists of directors' correspondence, notes and financial reports relating to organizing the annual meetings. The STOCKHOLDERS MEETING DATA series contains information pertaining to the company's reorganization in 1976 and its final months in 1979. Also includes some annual reports see contain list.

The ANNUAL FINANCIAL STATEMENTS series (1924-1973) is arranged by year and subdivided for each month. Occasionally the financial statements include meeting minutes. Special reports for each year from 1931 to 1972 provide data regarding inventory and the wholesale and retail divisions. There is a separate section in this series which contains the financial statements (1970-1979) of the various subsidiaries of the Kirk Corporation: S. Kirk & Son, Inc.; Coastal Mobile and Modular Group; Studebaker Southern, Inc.; Eisenberg-Lozano, Inc. (Kirk International); Kirk Pewter, Inc.; The Kirk Collection; and Kirk Imports, Inc.

The AUDITOR'S REPORTS series includes reports for S. Kirk & Son, Inc. in 1906 and 1908, then continues annually from 1936 to 1966. There are separate auditor's reports (1962-1979) for the Kirk Corporation subsidiaries.

The FINANCIAL STATISTICS series includes summaries of earnings as well as factors contributing to the decrease or increase in net current assets for 12 to 15 year time periods between 1950 and 1974. The CAPITAL ASSETS--INVOICES series (1937-1966) consists of receipted bills for office furniture and supplies, shop equipment and structure improvements.

The STOCKS series (1913-1969) includes the accounts (1914-1922) of the trusteeship established by the will of Henry Child Kirk, Sr. This section also contains notes redeemed and preferred stock issued (1913; 1917), new capital stock and a plan of recapitalization (1937), and stock certificates for Studebaker Southern, Inc. (1968-1969). There is information about splitting shares of common stock (1944-1950) and various reports including one to the Securities and Exchange Commission (1969).

The FIVE-YEAR PLAN series (1957-1961) consists of proposed changes in production and marketing to keep pace with changes in the economy and urban growth. The BANK ACCOUNTS series (1918-1972) is arranged by bank and contains data on investments, loans, estate management and company signature authorizations. The RETIREMENT PLAN series includes correspondence (1944-1968), a journal (1944-1967) and actuary's reports (1943-1972).

The GENERAL FINANCIAL ACCOUNTS series (1902-1976) contains many oversize volumes such as ledgers (1902-1975; most include a separate index), journals (1905-1974), retail ledgers and journals (1950-1975), retail sales distribution records (1963-1975), voucher registers (1958-1973), cash receipts and disbursements (1949-1976), and cash books (1925-1949). The series also includes a private general ledger (1926-1960) and a ledger (1914-1923) of the estate of Henry Child Kirk, Sr. Payroll accounts are located in the Employee Records series.

Because of the financial data they contain, the insurance records pertaining to the fires of 1903-1904 are filed in this

series (in oversize folders). The papers provide detailed inventories of equipment and materials lost, labor costs for clean-up and security, and lists of individual workers.

The LEGAL RECORDS series (1896-1971) holds patents (1896-1917) for a paper knife, a perpetual calendar, and methods of manufacturing metal articles by deposit. There is a copy of the deed of trust (1913) established by Henry Child Kirk, Sr. to manage the company after his death and information regarding the company's name change in 1948-1950. The legal documents (1969-1971) pertaining to the acquisition of the Kirk Corporation's several subsidiaries are represented. Also included are documents relating to several lawsuits. Lohmuller vs. Kirk (1917-1918) was a complaint against the noise of the factory. Other action (1932-1959) was initiated by Kirk against several discount houses and retailers over fair trade practices.

The PROPERTY RECORDS series (1892-1963) is composed of correspondence, memoranda and leases pertaining to the various Kirk retail and factory facilities, including the lease for the Guilford Avenue property which served as the temporary quarters after the fire of 1904. The papers describe plans and cost estimates for building maintenance, alterations, expansions and equipment. Many blueprints (some filed in oversize folders) accompany this data. The section of the Charles Street property details a troublesome relationship with Albert Katz (proprietor of S & N Katz Jewelers) who subleased part of the building from Kirk.

Details of the Kirk factory's operations are contained in the PRODUCTION RECORDS series (1868-1978). The earliest item is a memoranda book (1868-1874) with entries relating to the purity of silver for William Astor's dishes, the refining work of George Holbrook, Dr. Clarence Morfit's information on silver standards, formulas and calculations (including ones from Tiffany's and the Gorham Co.), and addresses of spoonmakers and chasers. There is a shipping receipt (1888) for silver bullion and a certificate of silver analysis (1895) prepared for Mrs. J. I. Lovell. Other items include notes (1896-1907) on spoon punches, statistics (1926-1966) on silverware production in ounces, specifications for flatware patterns (1968), a size and weight chart (1908) located in an oversize folder, and an index to drawings (1921-1967) showing the drawing number, the name of the piece, the customer and date.

From 1896-1913 inventories were kept which listed finished products, works in progress, shop fixtures, tools and patterns along with their respective values. Many statistics were recorded showing the cost of materials and labor necessary to produce the company's merchandise. These statistics contain information on workers wages. Comparative Operations Reports were produced for the Manufacturing Division, Kirk Pewter, Inc. and Kirk Imports, Inc. These provide sales, orders and production statistics on a daily, monthly and yearly basis. Fluctuations in the silver market are documented in a section of correspondence and memoranda (1931-1935; 1942-1943). Specific subjects include protests against the increase in the price of silver bullion, cooperation among silversmiths and jewelers in

their efforts to influence legislators, and the shortage of silver during the war years.

World War II had a great impact on Samuel Kirk & Son, Inc. There are a variety of reports prepared by and submitted to the War Production Board regarding the control of production and inventory. Information about the Kirk Company's war contract work is included in this section. After the war, the Office of Price Stabilization generated many reports, memoranda and correspondence (1951-1953) pertaining to ceiling price regulations and decontrol.

The RETAIL RECORDS series (1834-1974) contains data on the marketing of Kirk products. Several early bound volumes record sales of watches and jewelry. The watch books (1846-1893) describe each watch and provide the name and location of the supplier of the internal movements. The date and the customer's name are also given. The brooch book (1907-1918) and the ring book (1903-1918) list the type of stones used and their weight as well as the customer's name and date. A pocket notebook (1904-1910) records monthly and yearly total sales figures. A printed price booklet (1893-1897) contains handwritten notations. Two folders hold customer receipted bills (1834-1917) that were returned to the company as historical documents.

Form letters (1925-1930) to agents provide information on new products, prices, retail sales procedures, catalog direct sales, and marketing tips such as reaching the middle income market (1929) and steps for compiling and maintaining a mailing list. Memoranda taken from officers' meetings (1930-1943) outline marketing strategies and policies, advertising, community involvement and employee insurance and benefits. Financial data, legal agreements, memoranda, correspondence and floor plans (1950-1974) detail the establishment of Kirk outlets in B. Altman Co., Schleisner Co., and Hochschild Kohn Co.

A large portion of the Retail Records series pertains to advertising. The Agents' Advertising Record (1932-1940) is a log of advertising material sent to Kirk agents. Miscellaneous material includes advertising rates, samples, text copy and mock-ups. Oversize boxes contain scrapbooks (1927-1966) of newspaper and magazine ads, including publicity on Luci Johnson's Kirk silverware pattern (1966).

The EMPLOYEE RECORDS series (1890-1957) contains material on personnel organization and wages. The earliest item is an agreement to give employees time off dated 1890-1891. There are several lists of employees showing names, addresses, positions, wages and reasons for terminations (everything from death to “went on a spree and has never been heard from”). Payroll accounts (1901-1919; 1949-1957) are included here, some of which are located with the oversize volumes. Additional employee data can be found in the section relating to insurance coverage after the 1903-1904 fires (in oversize folders). Notes taken from “Key Men” meetings (1932-1955) cover such subjects as employment benefits, business conditions, the federal excise tax, the impact of the Korean War on business, and observations on the competition.


contains correspondence and promotional material for an exhibition of Kirk silverware organized by the company and loaned to museums throughout the U.S. Of particular interest is the file on the theft of several pieces in the show which occurred at the Vizcaya Museum in Miami, Florida in 1971.

The PUBLICATIONS series (1914-1959) comprises correspondence, notes, mock-ups, and revisions regarding the printing of the booklet “The Story of the House of Kirk”. An oversize box contains a run (1955-1958) of the publication Silver Notes, a company newsletter for its retail agents.

The KIRK REALTY CORPORATION series (1921-1964) includes a copy of the 1923 Act of Incorporation, Board of Directors meeting minutes (1922-1961), annual reports and meetings (1935-1961), financial statements (1924-1961), receipted bills and taxes (1921-1961) and correspondence (1924-1962). Also present are property appraisals (1927-1960), improvements, including blueprints (1935-1960), and lease agreements with Western Union Co. (1924-1960). Information on the dissolution of the Kirk Realty Corp. and sale of property spans 1960-1964.

Guide to the Samuel Kirk & Son, Inc. papers
Under Revision
Donna M. Ellis
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  • 2020-03-17: Manually entered into ArchivesSpace by Mallory Herberger.

Repository Details

Part of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library Repository

H. Furlong Baldwin Library
Maryland Center for History and Culture
610 Park Avenue
Baltimore MD 21201 United States