Today in 1898, the International Silver Company, one of Connecticut’s most famous and globally recognized brands, was formally incorporated in Meriden. The central Connecticut city had already established a national reputation as a leading producer of silver and silver-plated goods by the late 19th century, earning it the nickname “the Silver City.” By 1898, over a dozen companies in Meriden and surrounding towns produced about 70 percent of all the silverware and silver-plated products made in the United States.
By the 1920s, International Silver was grossing over $20 million annually and had become the world’s leading manufacturer of silver and silver-plated products. The company later took pride in weathering the Great Depression without laying off any of its workers. During World War II, many of the company’s Connecticut factories halted silver production to create scores of items for the American war effort, mass-producing everything from surgical instruments to gun and bazooka parts to bomb casings. The company began to experience a decline in the 1970s, however, as silver prices rose, the economy stagnated, and cheap imported flatware flooded American markets. International Silver’s attempt to diversify its product line and reinvent itself as “Insilco” eventually fell victim to the financial pressures of the late 20th century, and in 1981, the famous company formally closed its Meriden headquarters.