Howard & Co. was among New York City’s most opulent retail goldsmiths’ businesses during the last quarter of the 19th Century. Boasting a stock of the finest jewels, pearls, jewellery, silver and works of art and antiques, the firm was patronized by the elite of Manhattan, so much so that The New York Times in 1877 reported that, ‘It would be absurd to expect that the cheaper kinds [of gold and silver watches, jewellery and bric-a-brac] should be kept at a store which is frequently only by the wealthy.
The firm as established at 619 Broadway in 1866 by Joseph Platt Howard (1832-1909), who since 1856 had worked for Tiffany & Co., in partnership with his uncle, John Tasker Howard (1808-1888). Howard & Co. moved three times before, in 1878, finally securing the ground floor shop at 264 Fifth Avenue, the converted former mansion of Alexander T. Stewart (1803-1876), the wealthy dry goods merchant. J.P. Howard, who was later joined in business by his son Montague (b. 1866) and who is said to have been the dean of the jewellery trade in New York, continued to operate successfully until the financial downturn of 1907. He died suddenly aged 77 at his residence, Hotel Le Marquise, 12 East Thirty-first Street, New York, in December 1909, after which Howard & Co. continued its steep decline until closing early in 1914.
For information relating to J.P. Howard’s family and its English origins, see Abraham Howard of Marblehead, Mass., and his Descendants, privately printed, New York, 1897.
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