Bradley and Hubbard was founded in Meriden, Connecticut, in 1852. Initially they made only clocks, but with the discovery of oil in Pennsylvania in 1859, they branched into kerosene-burning lamps. The company grew rapidly and added all manner of products, mostly of brass, and gained a reputation for high quality and artistic merit.
One of the founders, Walter Hubbard, was a distant relative of mine – he and I are descended from my 5th great grandfather – and the coincidence of the name and my interest in things related to writing led me to purchase this Art Deco desk set which was made between 1930 and 1940.
After purchasing the set, I found that an identical set is in the Smithsonian Collection. Their set includes six pieces, while I only have three of the six.
I’m missing the inkwell, letter opener, and letter holder, so I’ll be looking for the other pieces. Unfortunately for me, Bradley and Hubbard made dozens of similar designs, so my chances of finding a perfect match are not good. Each piece of the set carries an interesting embossed raised rectangular and circle motif decoration with a green enameled interior.
My set was in poor condition, with the lacquer finish partly gone, allowing the brass to tarnish and even pit in a few places. The oval blotter paper surface was similar to that in the Smithsonian picture, but damaged on one edge, and the underlying cloth covering was partially missing.
My choice, to restore the set by completely removing all the remaining lacquer and polishing out the tarnish and pitting as much as possible, might make a true antique collector shudder and shake their head, but I believe that the results justify the treatment.
The hand-held ink blotter was covered in matching pink patterned paper, but under that was a second layer, never used, of green paper in the same pattern. For now, I’ve replaced the oval blotter surface with plain green in a similar shade to that found on the hand blotter.
This is not a large desk set, perhaps it was a lady’s set, the oval blotter measures just 18.25″ by 14″. The oval pen tray measures 8.75″ by 2.75″ and the hand-held ink blotter is 4.25″ by 2.5″
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