MERIDEN, CT (WFSB) -- There’s a lot of history behind Meriden’s ‘Silver City’ nickname.
The nickname is everywhere in Meriden, from local businesses to even the bridge that spans the green and downtown.
“The name is still current, though if you asked perhaps 3 or 4 people out of 10 what it stood for, people would say, well, Meriden is the Silver City, I’m not sure why,” explained Sherwin Borsuk, the president of Meriden’s Historical Society.
“Meriden was known as the Silver City because the silver companies constituted so much employment locally,” he said.
In fact, in the late 19th Century, Meriden was home to a half dozen silver companies, employing thousands.
“The Meriden Britannia Company later, in 1898, merged with several of the other companies including Wilcox Silver, Derby Silver from other parts of Connecticut,” Borsuk said.
That made the newly formed International Silver, the largest producer of silver-plated cutlery in the world at that time.
“A large portion of the output was flat wear for the dining table, many of the things you would see on a Victorian dining table would be strange to us today,” Borsuk said.
Inside the Andrews Homestead on West Main Street, you can walk back in time to Meriden’s manufacturing past.
In that era, they were highly specialized, they were something for every occupation, something for every item on your table,” Borsuk said.
From cups to keep a man’s mustache dry while he drinks, ornate tea sets, to toothpick holders, they were all made out of silver.
“The beauty of silver was silver in its polished state,” Borsuk said.
Meriden’s silver companies produced plenty of trophies and commemorative pieces as well, even trying to adapt with the times, with new modern designs for the 1964 world fair.
“Silver plate was popular up until the 50s and 60s when tastes changed,” Borsuk said.
He added that International Silver, Meriden’s last silver manufacturer, moved overseas in the 1960s, taking the jobs and leaving behind a history, and a nickname that remains to this day.
“You can find Meriden wears dispersed throughout the world, both in silver plate and other products which they produced,” Borsuk said.
The Meriden Historical Society is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Sunday in May.