The company was founded in 1875 as Whitney & Rice in Attleboro, Mass. manufacturing silver products. The company was sold in 1882 and its name changed to Carpenter and Bliss, and shortly thereafter, in 1878, became E. A. Bliss and Co., Inc., New York. With rapid expansion starting in the late 1880’s, in 1890, the company moved to Meriden, Conn. Mark “M. Co. inside a large B” on jewelry in 1908, “N” in an oval shape box for jewelry necklaces, bracelets etc. since Dec. 1923, “NACO” for jewelry and cases since Dec. 1923. After WWI, the company shifted its emphasis from silver products to production of modern or costume jewelry.
The name for the jewelry, “NAPIER” was named after James Napier, its President in 1920, (who headed the company until 1960), changing the company’s name to Napier-Bliss Co. In 1922, the name was changed again to the Napier Company located now in Meriden, CT. Marked: “NAPIER” for jewelry since Oct. 1920, and “By NAPIER” in a box for scarf pins, bracelets, brooches, dress clips, bar pins, rings, dress and shoe buckles etc. since July 1942, and “NAPIER with a copyright symbol” after 1955. Trademarks all included the name “NAPIER”.
Napier was considered to be the oldest fashion jewelry house in the U.S. Most of the costume jewelry, made is modern and simple in basic geometric form and floral motifs designs, that lacks fancy ornamentation and embellished glitter of other costume jewelry, but has backgrounds of sterling silver and silver plating with some of the background metalwork having a sculpture look that resembles Mexican and Scandinavian silverwork. Napier’s collectibles include the unique early designs along with the sterling silver designs and the unusual Oriental inspired coin and charm bracelets of the 1950s. The Napier jewelry was mass produced in large quantities and marketed through major department stores. It designed and manufactured a simple, yet elegant line of costume jewelry avoiding the most expensive materials like aurora borealis rhinestones to keep the cost down. It created jewelry with high style and superior craftsmanship updating the styling, quality and value for the modern American woman, ranging from career jewelry to casual wear and special occasion. Victoria & Company Ltd., later called Victoria Creations purchased the company in the late 1980s, and in the year 2000, Jones Apparel Group became its owner also buying the “NAPIER” brand. Jones Apparel Group ceased operations of “NAPIER” jewelry in 1999.
The photographs in this post are authentic Napier pieces and they are all available on our on-line boutique and in our PoshMark boutique @HamptonVintage.