Dohrmann Companies--Maker or not?

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Traintime
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Dohrmann Companies--Maker or not?

Postby Traintime » Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:12 pm

An online record of a silverplated creamer manufactured for the Atlantic Refining Company in the early 1900's era apparently carries one of the Dohrmann company names in place of a maker mark. I previously knew of their flatware marked Dohrmann or DOHRCO, but had largely considered this as part of their commercial supply work under the Dohrman Hotel Supply subsidiary. Trademark registrations indicate the used the name far earlier than the filing date. The buildings they occupied during the 1890's (and afterward, expansions) may have been earlier used by a San Francisco Jewelry Firm which apparently also worked in gold and silver plating. This firm (listed at 124 Sutter Street) had brought in a motor and unspecified equipment which I can't say was for manufacturing of plate, but has me wondering. Close inspection of Dohrmann's growth shows this to have been a very aggressive firm...no grass growing under their feet. Could they have actually been manufacturing silverplate like the Albert Pick company did in the east? Here is a (non-commercial?) link to a bio on the family head and the company structure: https://www.immigrantentrepreneurship.o ... hp?rec=241

Dohrman lease documents related to U.C. Berkeley (apparently controlling the buildings) have be posted on-line.

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Re: Dohrmann Companies--Maker or not?

Postby Traintime » Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:43 pm

Some added notes on Dohrmann--In 1907, they bought out the stock of Albert Pick in San Francisco (appears to be the priod when Pick retrenches to the east and drops San Francisco from their china marks). Previous records on the closing of the Anglo-American Crockery Co. (S.F.) in 1910 indicate Dohrmann bought their stock out. A new record found indicates they also assumed all of the accounts of the company. In 1911, the stock was sold off at the Emporium Store, so all of the assumed accounts would have to carry Dohrmann marked items after this.
Dohrmann flatware (mainly forks and spoons) surfaces regularly but never in groups. Along with their marks, some pieces carry line or pattern names. Quality varies. Some knives carry old style blades, so perhaps related to an early production era. I personally have not encountered any topmarked pieces for users that I can recall. (This could help in dating.)
Dohrmann operated at least Seattle to San Diego, and Hawaii to Montana. Their full operating territory is not yet clear. They have also been listed among naval supply bidders, and did work for the US Maritime Commission related to Victory Ships.

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Re: Dohrmann Companies--Maker or not?

Postby Traintime » Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:03 pm

An oddity..A pickle/seafood fork backstamped "DOHRCO PACIFIC A-1 PLUS" is topmarked (stamped) "SYMMES". If this is Symmes Cafe on Ocean Park Avenue south of Santa Monica, this likely puts Dohrmann in Southern California before 1920. It would also confirm the early use of their own mark on commercial silverware. (This is not yet conclusive.)

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Re: Dohrmann Companies--Maker or not?

Postby MsJMoody » Mon Jun 17, 2019 5:26 pm

I was looking for information on this mark when I came arcross two pickle forks that were designed the same but had two completly different marks.

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One says Dohrco Gramercy giving refference to the company and the flatware name design and the other says Victors. Co A1 IS

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These forks were used in the early camps of Yellowstone National Park. I also have a few peices of flatware by Albert Pick Co. for these camps as well which makes me wonder just how much Dohrmann actually manufactured vs bought and sold form other companies.

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Re: Dohrmann Companies--Maker or not?

Postby Traintime » Wed Jun 19, 2019 1:56 am

Perhaps you can clarify something...what do you mean by "early" camps? I recently came across a book about a particlar guy associated with the older era hotels and camps in YNP which would definitely qualify as "early". But Dohrmann only becomes involved (along with other California and Bay Area business movers) in the park's affairs during the early 20th century, a somewhat later period we might term the "lodge era".
As to Dorhmann activities...a great deal of information has been surfacing on-line, but it requires heavy key pounding to dig it all up. In short, they certainly had spread rapidly out from San Francisco through partnerships and aquisitions. Border to border north & south, west to Hawaii but just how far eastward is not entirely clear. They definitely seem to be getting their silver and china from established makers willing to accomodate special supplier markings or backstamps. So far, there is no hard evidence to support any theory as to whether Dohrmann was ever making or plating silverwares or finishing (decorating and firing) unfinished china blanks. This company was both aggressive and successful, possibly to a degree we might find astonishing, even in the rapid growth environment of the Pacific States after 1900. Clever, connected, or simply resourceful..there's a lot we don't know about what went on in their hotel supply functions.

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Re: Dohrmann Companies--Maker or not?

Postby Traintime » Wed Jun 19, 2019 2:37 am

Sorry, a clarification...I was refering to Yosemite National Park, not Yellowstone. I see you have grouped the Y.P.Co. pieces with the Northern Pacific N.P. Ry. item as a conclusion that this is Yellowstone Park Company? Are you sure it is not Yosemite Parks Company? Did you find a resource that has identified the initials in this context? Dohrmann was definitely involved with Yosemite, but I have never placed them in any specific involvement with Yellowstone where Northern Pacific and Union Pacific (which did have a Dohrmann relationship) held great influence. BTW...if you search "Yosemite" here, you'll find a piece I posted with an unidentified mystery mark not associated with any maker, supplier, silverplate line name, or one of those alternate metal names like Alaska. An early camp identifier has not been ruled out.

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Re: Dohrmann Companies--Maker or not?

Postby MsJMoody » Wed Jun 19, 2019 10:16 am

I agree with everything you have stated. There is always a possibility especially when things do not have surviving documentation to know for absolute certainty but theories and assumptions can be made with some educated digging

The forks I have depicted here are most likely hotels. The Railroad often made it's way up toward the park with all it's visitors with people accidentally taking etc. I say early due to the weight of them. I also have a few in similar style (tried finding them but they seem to be buried in a tub somewhere) that are marked YPC of similar style which there are records and photographs/stereoviews of this business abbreviation to be Yellowstone Park Camps.

I have come across many photos, personal written accounts, and documents that mention shops, camps, etc. purchasing merchandise and device material from multiple companies.

I do believe these are Yellowstone Park Co. because I have several other souvenir spoons that spell out Yellowstone Park co. as well as the fact that I personally have not come across anything indicating that there ever was a Yosemite Park Co. in business. I often talk to a retired Yellowstone National Park historian and much of the items were branded/advertised under Yellowstone Park Co.

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Re: Dohrmann Companies--Maker or not?

Postby Traintime » Tue Jul 02, 2019 2:30 am

Yosemite National Park Company merged with The Curry Company in the 20's to form Yosemite Park & Curry Company (YP&CC). I believe I have the YPCO lettering on Yellowstone matchbooks, which would confirm that is the mark of the Yellowstone Park Company. There is one simple pattern for Union Pacific Railroad (topmarked UPRR) which includes Dohrco as an alternate source to the regular Victor (?..will recheck) pieces. Now UP did have an West Yellowstone lodge building operated as a restaurant. If those wares were used there, then it might make sense that Dohrco had penetrated eastward to the park and did business with YPCO also. There is an old early-century source indicating Dohrmann was seeking some facility location in the Chicago area. What came of that is unknown, and perhaps it was just used as a threat against Albert Pick to force them out of any further interference in the western states.

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Re: Dohrmann Companies--Maker or not?

Postby MsJMoody » Tue Jul 02, 2019 10:59 am

I think that threat theory may be very sound. I dug out some more of my flatware for the hotels and camps and came across 5 pickling forks.

4 are marked " Dohrco Gramercy" & 1 is marked "Victor S. Co. A1" followed by an I & S in boxes for International Silver Co.

Victor Silver Company was acquired by International Silver Co when Derby Silver Co. was bought out. International Silver used much of the back stock pre-stamped flatware and like items and just added an additional mark. That's why the one pickling fork gives indication to these two makers.

If you look Dohrmann Hotel Supply's Gramercy pattern matches Victor Silver Company's Norman pattern. See Photos below.

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I have tried digging for patents on both of the patterns and come up short. What I am assuming based on this is that the design was not patented by either company & Yellowstone Park Co. was in need of more flatware for growing business and needed to have the same design/pattern for appearances.

They could have brought the design to the opposite company and requested a batch made at a cheaper/more cost effective price than the previous company had to offer or one of the two companies stopped manufacturing that pattern and the other picked up where the other one left off. Because Victor Silver Co & Dohrmann Hotel Supply don't give clear dates as to what was manufactured when it is hard to tell.

I thought at first perhaps Dohrmann Hotel Supply may have purchased flatware stock from Victor Silver Co. as they were growing in the early 1900's but I can't imagine that they wouldn't both stamp the flatware at that point.

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Re: Dohrmann Companies--Maker or not?

Postby Traintime » Tue Jul 02, 2019 12:20 pm

Don't want to jump to any early conclusions, but there could be a tie-in to both ends of the park. UtahRails site documented UP's park services related to Utah Parks Company and more. In referencing Yellowstone, they added Professor Maury D. Klein's comments that UP used private contractors on the Yellowstone end. This would definitely cover the in-park auto tours and lodgings, but might this also relate to the West Yellowstone Dining Lodge?? UPRR emblems appear on the menus, and this could extend to silver and china used there, but it does not rule out a concession to operate the facility. That could be YPCO, given their existing proximity. And Dohrmann was already acting as a primary supplier to the Overland Route services roads including Southern Pacific, Union Pacific, C&NW and maybe even the Milwaukee. Something to dig into.
But another potential operator jumps up. In the east, Union News Company was engaged in railroad related food services. It was believed they never went west, but news on a new hotel in Southern Oregon mentioned UNCo might operate the coffee shop! Even more, Union Pacific's company newsletter (found on-line) mentions a woman operating the Union News stand in Nampa Idaho. And UNCO emblems are on western postcards including Yellowstone. Could it be that they jumped beyond paper in the west too. Were they an operator of food services along these rail lines? Who knows, but if so, wouldn't they need a large supplier like Dohrmann? More digging may be needed.

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Re: Dohrmann Companies--Maker or not?

Postby MsJMoody » Tue Jul 02, 2019 12:42 pm

A friend of mine mentioned another fairly sound idea for why this keeps popping up. Perhaps large companies (hotels, tours, etc.) in need of flatware came up with their own design and then ordered from multiple companies in the max stock allowed. I am wondering if all these companies accepted the order with the design (a few of them even requesting the rights to continue using the pattern design) but had a max quantity order limit due to supplies available.

Who knows it could be a combination of everything all happening at varying times.

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Re: Dohrmann Companies--Maker or not?

Postby Traintime » Tue Jul 02, 2019 12:53 pm

RRCommissary calls the Victor/Dohrco pattern "Vermont". Norman is supposedly 1953-, but Vermont and Norman sure look very similar...of course, I'm only seeing this in photos rather than having it all in hand to compare. And there is a reference book on RR silver flatwares which might help (and a new, large volume on RR silver has been published now). So what is Vermont and why is it not listed by name for these makers? More to search.

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Re: Dohrmann Companies--Maker or not?

Postby Traintime » Tue Jul 02, 2019 1:13 pm

Can't put up a commercial link here, but dorfantiques has some good shots of the Victor/IS Vermont pattern produced for New York Central. [Already sold wares, so this is just for historical reference and not an endorsement.]

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Re: Dohrmann Companies--Maker or not?

Postby Traintime » Tue Jul 02, 2019 2:02 pm

All looks to me like a re-worked version of Cromwell dating to 1912 under 1847 Rogers. And it doesn't require a patent filing to lop off ornamentation and details from something already in your lines. They've made such alterations before to other patterns.

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Re: Dohrmann Companies--Maker or not?

Postby Traintime » Tue Jul 02, 2019 2:37 pm

Here are the lost photos of Simons Los Angeles (previously posted in Commercial Crests section) which I thought to be Victor Norman. The 1953- dating did bother me, so perhaps a comparison to Vermont & Gramercy.

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Re: Dohrmann Companies--Maker or not?

Postby Traintime » Tue Jul 02, 2019 4:39 pm

"DOHRCO Cascade A-1+" is a hammered finish with angle cut tip. Actual maker not known yet, but similar to an Oneida pattern from 1930. Not shown under Victor nor IS, but there are numerous other subsidiaries.

"Dohrco Heavy" is on a box containing 9 of 12 Windsor spoons (eBay), but no photos of the backmarks. Other "DOHRCO" Windsor pieces carry a symbol used by International Silver in combination with the line name, so one maker is solved but does not rule out an earlier source of Windsor for Dohrmann.

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Re: Dohrmann Companies--Maker or not?

Postby Traintime » Tue Jul 02, 2019 6:51 pm

"DOHRCO ACE" may or may not be found with the International Silver feathers mark.
"DOHRCO REDWOOD" matches Oneida.
"DOHRCO HEAVY" made it to archaelogical artifact status with Western Australia museum related to some aircraft remnants: http://www.museum.wa.gov.au/maritime-ar ... on-ferrous


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