Napier Company (jewellery)
The Napier Company got its start in North Attleboro, Massachusetts 1878, under the name of The E. A. Bliss Co., manufacturing gilt men's watch chains. In 1882, the company became incorporated as The E. A. Bliss Company with the word "The" as part of its legal name. The company relocated to Meriden, Connecticut in 1890, after the company sustained rapid growth in the previous decade. During World War I (and again in World War II), they ceased production of jewelry, and instead focused on producing war-related items, such as medallions and medals.
James H. Napier became president of the company in 1920, and the company was renamed, The Napier-Bliss Co. In 1922, the company again changed its name to The Napier Co.
The company was known for its ability to be on the forefront of fashion and design and had a history of sending its designers to Europe. In 1925, James Napier attended the World's Fair Exposition Internationale des Artes Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris, and brought back with him business ideas, including designs influenced by Parisian and European fashion. Mr. Napier himself, did not design jewelry. James Napier work for the company from 1914 to his death in 1960. From 1920 to 1960 he served as president.
In 1999, the company was bought by Victoria & Company. The plant in Meriden, Connecticut was closed by Victoria & Company on October 15, 1999. However, under the umbrella of Jones Apparel Group, Napier jewellery is still being manufactured and distributed.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Napier designed necklaces, bracelets and earrings in a range of styles including, designs featuring Egyptian motifs, such as cobras, Victorian Revival designs and Deco-style motifs. The company produced very little jewelry during the during the 1930s, focusing on its giftware lines. In the 1940s, most of the jewelry produced was sterling silver tailored pieces. In the 1950s, it produced jewelry in a wide range of styles. Napier jewelry is notable for its simple, modern, geometric and floral designs. However, the company also produce boutique and high-end jewelry. Some of the metalwork bears resemblance to Mexican and Scandinavian designs. The fan jewelry collection was introduced as a 10-year fundraising commitment in 1955. In the 1950s, the Napier Company presented First Lady Mamie Eisenhower with a bracelet bearing an elephant design, which was reputedly one of her favorite pieces of jewellery, and which she wore often, and the Napier Company gifted the contestants of the 1955 Miss America Pageant with fashion jewellery.
From 1922 through the 2000s, the Napier trademark in block was used. The trademark in its script form was introduced in 1965 and was used both singly or in conjunction with the block letter Napier trademark. How the trademark appeared on a piece, stamped, embossed, or on a plaque, was based on the design of the piece.
- A brief history of the company, and some examples of their work
- press release on the sale of Napier Company to Victoria & Company
- Picture galleries with examples of jewelry and history of The Napier Co.
- History blog for The Napier Co.
- An antique website, bearing a history of the Napier Company as well as a discussion of Napier designs