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Guide to the Robert Ensko Inc. Records
1787-1798, 1908-1978 (bulk 1934-1970)
 MS 200

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400


New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Elise Winks and Larry Weimer

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on April 30, 2021
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Container List

Series I. Correspondence, 1796-1798, 1934-1970. 39.33 Linear feet

Scope and Contents

This series includes both incoming and outgoing business correspondence of Robert Ensko Inc. The correspondents include individual collectors/purchasers, museum curators, historical researchers, appraisers, engravers, silversmiths, dealers and other suppliers, and university, association, and other institutional purchasers of silver objects. Among the more frequent institutional clients appearing in these files are various units of Yale University and the New York Racing Association, which purchased trophies from Ensko beginning in the late 1950s (and perhaps earlier) for races at Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga.

The subject matter of the correspondence perhaps mostly concerns clients or potential clients seeking particular antique silver objects or reproductions of such objects. Requests for engraving are also common. Drawings and some photographs are found in the files as patrons described their objectives to Ensko. Ensko maintained relationships over the years with their individual clients and with their supply chain of dealers, engravers and silversmiths to satisfy client wishes, and so the correspondence reflects the ongoing development of silver collections through Ensko. The correspondence appears to be largely complete, running from 1936 (with a few letters back to 1934) through to the firm's close in 1970.

In addition to documentation of purchases and other business transactions, the correspondence includes other matters that Ensko assisted with, including answering historical research questions from independent historians, such as Helen Burr Smith, and curators at Albany Institute of History and Art, Detroit Institute of Arts, Yale University Art Gallery of Fine Art, and elsewhere. Ensko also was called on to offer both informal appraisals of objects and more formal appraisals of silver holdings in collections and estates; the appraised inventories are found at various points throughout the files. Ensko also occasionally loaned objects for exhibition at museums and elsewhere and that is documented in these files.

The files also include some personal correspondence at points, and correspondence with the firm's attorneys and accountants that run on the border of personal and professional. The set of correspondence for January-June 1936 includes letters from the Smithsonian concerning British assay office receipts; six receipts dated 1796-98 were enclosed for Stephen Ensko to keep and these are in the files as reflected in the series' date range.

Arrangement

The series retains its original order, which includes multiple sets of letters arranged alphabetically by correspondent. The sets advance in rough chronological order from the 1930s to 1970. There is a fair amount of inconsistency though in the files. In terms of chronology, some sets consist entirely of letters from one particular year, while others include letters from a wider range of time. More uneven is how correspondents, especially those from institutions, were filed in the alphabetical sequence. For example, correspondence with Yale University representatives can be found under Y, or under the letter of the individual correspondent, such as P for John M. Phillips or S for Theodore Sizer. Dealers with personal names in their firm name, such as I. Freeman and Son, will typically be found under the surname (F), not the lead letter of the company. These too might be found under a personal name, for example, the dealer Polly's Shop is found under P and under E for the proprietor, Polly Edwards. There are likely other idiosyncrasies not observed during processing; accordingly, patrons should be sure not to tailor their search in the files too narrowly.

Conditions Governing Use

The files hold the carbon copies of the firm's outgoing letters. These were typed mostly on highly acidic paper, which is crumbling and breaks apart easily when handled. Accordingly, patrons should be careful when handling these documents to minimize damage to them.

Container 1     Title Date
Offsite-Box: 59 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Includes the sets of general correspondence for January-June 1936 and July-December 1936, and the set of correspondence (1936-1939) related to orders of "American Silversmiths and Their Marks II," with acknowledgements from libraries and others of donated copies from Ensko. The set of correspondence for January-June 1936 includes letters from the Smithsonian concerning British assay office receipts; six receipts dated 1796-98 were enclosed for Stephen Ensko to keep.

1796-1798, 1934-1939
Offsite-Box: 5 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

The correspondence for 1937 to roughly the first half of 1939 was found in somewhat disordered state when processed in 2021. It appears likely that the correspondence was originally in three sets: much of 1937, then late 1937 into 1938, and then 1938 into mid-1939. The correspondence was given a rough sort in 2021 into two sets: 1937-38 and 1939. This box includes correspondents A-I for 1937-38.

1937-1938
Offsite-Box: 6 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Includes correspondents J-Z for 1937-38.

1937-1938
Offsite-Box: 10 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Includes correspondents A-Z for 1939, but it appears that the correspondence is only from the first six to nine months or so of the year.

1939
Offsite-Box: 49 Correspondence (RESTRICTED)

Scope and Contents

RESTRICTED: These files require conservation vacuum treatment before they can be used. The box holds a set of correspondence files, which because of their condition were not closely inspected, but they appear to include letters from 1939 and likely are the continuation of the above letters of 1939 and into early 1940.

circa 1939-1940
Offsite-Box: 60 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Includes four sets of correspondence with somewhat overlapping date ranges and correspondents, running from early 1940 to mid-1941.

1940-1941
Offsite-Box: 61 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Includes three sets of correspondence ranging from about mid-1941 to early 1942.

1941-1942
Offsite-Box: 62 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Includes two sets of correspondence, one covering most of 1942 and the other from late 1942 to mid-1943.

1942-1943
Offsite-Box: 63 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Includes three sets of correspondence ranging roughly from mid-1943 to mid-1944.

1943-1944
Offsite-Box: 64 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Includes three sets of correspondence ranging roughly from mid-1944 to mid-1945.

1944-1945
Offsite-Box: 65 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Includes three sets of correspondence that run roughly from mid 1945 to mid-1946.

1945-1946
Offsite-Box: 7 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Includes two sets of correspondence completing 1946, ranging roughly from mid-1946 to the end of the year. Then the box begins what appears to be the combination of several sets of correspondence that range from 1947 through 1950, with some 1951; this box holds correspondents A-B.

1946-1951
Offsite-Box: 8 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

This box continues the sets of correspondence for the years from 1947-1950, with some into 1951; includes correspondents C-G. There is then a gap for correspondents H-S, which does not seem to be in the collection. (The boxes with correspondence files for 1957 include some files that range back to the 1940s, but do not cover all the missing documents.)

1947-1951
Offsite-Box: 11 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

This box continues the sets of correspondence for the years from 1947-1950, with some into 1951; includes correspondents T-Z.

1947-1951
Offsite-Box: 28 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Correspondents A-L

1951-1952
Offsite-Box: 29 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Correspondents M-Z

1951-1952
Offsite-Box: 38 Correspondence. Queen Anne pattern orders (Box 1 of 2)

Scope and Contents

This box and the next include only orders for reproduction Queen Anne Pattern, English silver-plated (S.P.) flatware. This box has correspondents A-J, the next has K-Z.

1950-1953
Offsite-Box: 39 Correspondence. Queen Anne pattern orders (Box 2 of 2)
1950-1953
Offsite-Box: 30 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Correspondents A-R

1955
Offsite-Box: 31 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Correspondents S-Z (1955) and A-L (1956).

1955-1956
Offsite-Box: 32 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Correspondents M-Z (1956) and A-B (1957). The 1957 files include some multi-year files that range from the 1940s to 1957.

1956-1957
Offsite-Box: 33 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Includes correspondents B-L. Though the files primarily date from 1957, there are some multi-year files that range from the 1940s to 1957.

1957
Offsite-Box: 34 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Includes correspondents M-Z. Though the files primarily date from 1957, there are some multi-year files that range from the 1940s to 1957.

1957
Offsite-Box: 35 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Includes correspondents A-R, including New York Racing Association (NYRA)

1958
Offsite-Box: 36 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Includes correspondents S-Z (1958) and A-H (1959).

1958-1959
Offsite-Box: 37 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Includes correspondents I-Z, including New York Racing Association (NYRA)

1959
Offsite-Box: 22 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Correspondents A-L

1960
Offsite-Box: 23 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Correspondents M-Z, including New York Racing Association (NYRA)

1960
Offsite-Box: 19 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Correspondents A-M

1961
Offsite-Box: 20 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Correspondents N-Z (1961), including New York Racing Association (NYRA) and A-D (1962)

1961-1962
Offsite-Box: 21 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Correspondents E-Z, including New York Racing Association (NYRA)

1962
Offsite-Box: 16 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Correspondents A-N, including New York Racing Association (NYRA)

1963
Offsite-Box: 17 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Correspondents O-Z (1963) and A-D (1964), including New York Racing Association (NYRA)

1963-1964
Offsite-Box: 18 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Correspondents E-Z, including New York Racing Association (NYRA)

1964
Offsite-Box: 13 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Correspondents A-Z, including New York Racing Association (NYRA)

1965
Offsite-Box: 12 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Correspondents A-Z, including New York Racing Association (NYRA)

1966
Offsite-Box: 14 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Correspondents A-Z, including New York Racing Association (NYRA)

1967
Offsite-Box: 15 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Correspondents A-Z, including New York Racing Association (NYRA)

1968
Offsite-Box: 40 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Includes correspondents A-N, including New York Racing Association (NYRA)

1969-1970
Offsite-Box: 41 Correspondence

Scope and Contents

Includes correspondents O-Z. Also includes excise tax and other form filings for various individuals and organizations.

1969-1970

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