Information showing J. W. Johnston of John Street New York using the name of a then dead firm (?) known as Crown Silver Plate Company first surfaces in 1898, three years before American Silver Company (another user of the name) is formed. The Crown name has not been linked to American Silver's predecessors. For earlier history, Sterling Flatware Fashions refers to a wholesale plating company dating back to he 1850's: https://www.sterlingflatwarefashions.co ... /SPC2.html
I have no idea how they traced this back and can find no references so far. In looking at the vague name of J. W. Johnson, he is raising imported English Jersey cows in Plainfield New Jersey (linked by addresses tied together with John Street). He also appears to possibly be the President of a bank in New Jersey. With that information, a daughter of some known lineage in Monroe County is married to a J. W. Johnson of Spuyten Duyvil, and he may be the son (1 of 4) of Issac G. Johnson of the old Johnson Iron Works at Spuyten Duyvil, a major manufacture with some history in armaments....this is coincidental, but one of the earlier occupants of that John Street address was a dealer in military arms and ammunition. By 1925, we find a "layman's" book on religion written by James W. Johnson of Spuyten Duyvill, and this might be the first link to an actual name. To complicate this, a J. W. Johnson involved in Jewelers and watches turns up around 1899 in Toronto Canada, but nothing more links that name so far. Can anyone make any sense of who this J. W. Johnson may actually be, and where is he producing this flatware?