Watson Silver and Lift Bridge Spoons

Ad for Watson Silver

As I read some of the magazines I purchased from the Duluth Public Library, I am impressed by a sense that the library bought magazines to suit the aspirations of the Zenith city. Magazines celebrating the fancy life might feel a little out of place in a public library today, but Duluth in the 1920s was a city that had some millionaires and wanted the world to think it had more.

We can see that in the ad above, taken from an interior design magazine, for Watson Silverware.

The Watson Company was founded around 1874 by Clarence L. Watson, Fred Newell, Charles Cobb, Samuel Gould and W.A. Battey.  It’s hard to imagine a Duluth where custom silverware was a thing, but in the first quarter of the previous century, maybe demand was there.

And maybe later, among the “common folk,” the tourist class, demand would be there — eBay tells me that Watson would eventually make a “lift bridge spoon” like the spoons my grandma would buy when she visited a new tourism destination.

Anyway.  Still thumbing through these magazines, trying to imagine the Duluth that subscribed to these magazines “back in the day” and trying to make all the connections to Duluth I can, uncovering cool things as I go.

1 Comment


about 1 year ago

Hey, I take issue with the idea that a public library would not currently subscribe to "fancy life" magazines. The library as long been a location where residents can read materials for free, no matter what the topic. The library still subscribes to more than 200 publications on a WIDE variety of topics, from sailing to hot rods to gardening and LGBTQ topics. These are free to all, no matter what their economic situation might be. It was true in 1913, and also true in 2023. Even if someone wants to read an online version but doesn't have a stable wifi connection or device at home, the library can provide that access for free.

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