Rhode Island Picture Post Cards
Private Mailing Card - Circa 1898-1902
Published by the Keystone Press - Providence, Rhode Island
Gorham Manufacturing Company, Elmwood
(Providence), RI
(Scroll Down for History of Gorham Manufacturing)

The card above is an example of a postally unused Private Mailing Card, (PMC). These cards were produced from 1898 to 1901.
See: PMC - Jacksonville to Providence for further information on this type of card.


During the 19th century; the precious metals industry in Providence, Rhode Island began a period of exceptional growth. One of the early pioneers in the jewelry and precious metals field was Jabez Gorham who founded the company in 1818. The business originally operated out of a one room shop, but by 1863 when the company was incorporated; it had become a large complex of workshops forges and furnaces. 

Many other smaller jewelry and silverware firms flourished in the area and Providence became known as the world's leading costume jewelry manufacturing center. In recent years most of these businesses have moved their operations south or overseas and the industry is very much reduced.

Gorham began manufacturing works in silver in 1831 and by the 1860s under the leadership of his son John; the company enjoyed a world-wide reputation for the excellence of it's gold and silver work. By 1885, the company had separate departments to manufacture statuary and memorial works in silver, gold, brass, bronze, stone and wood. Over twenty different trades were carried on within the Gorham Complex located on North Main Street

At one time the complex even had its own railroad station. A recreation hall and dining facility was added to the structure in 1895 for the company's workers. Gorham was the only large Providence firm at the turn of the century that engaged in welfare work among its workers.

The Gorham complex, that is depicted on the postcard was completed in 1890 at 333 Adelaide Street and was a brick 3 story structure with segmental-arch windows and flat roofs. The structure included one of the largest precious metals foundries in the world. Manufacturing processes continued at the property until 1985 when the company relocated to Smithfield, Rhode Island. Most of the buildings and structures on the property were demolished in 1995 by the City of Providence. The Adelaide Street property was named as a "Super Fund" site during the mid 90s and a massive clean-up of toxic waste was begun. These efforts are still in progress.

Gorham Manufacturing was taken over by Textron Incorporated in 1967 and in 1991 by Brown-Foreman, (Jack Daniels Whiskey). In April, 2002, Brown-Foreman closed down the Smithfield Plant and moved machinery and operations to their Pomona, New Jersey Factory (Lenox Division) bringing an end to the era and writing the closing chapter on Silversmithing in Rhode Island.

Jabez Gorham was born on February 18, 1792 on Benefit Street in Providence, Rhode Island. He married Amey Thurber on December 4, 1816 in Providence. Jabez died on March, 24, 1869.

John Gorham, the son of Jabez and Amey, entered the business in 1841 (Gorham & Son). John introduced modern factory production methods to the firm and it was under John's management that the company grew into one of the largest firms of its kind in the world.

Gorham Products grace many famous establishments. The White House under both the Lincoln and Grant administrations used tea and flatware manufactured by the company. The flatware used on Air Force One under the Bush administration is Gorham's Chantilly. In Rhode Island; the Stature of the Independent Man, which stands atop the State House is one of Gorham's best known works. Gorham also produced the famous monument of George Washington which stands in the Capitol's Rotunda.

Rhode Island - An Inventory of Historic Engineering and Industrial Sites - Dept. of the Interior

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