Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center

 

J. P. Reynolds & Co.
Escutcheons for Military and Naval Service

 

GA-42

 


Introduction

Agency History

Scope and Content

Inventory

Introduction

The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center acquired the records in 1955. The museum holds President Hayesí escutcheon produced by this company.

Agency History

In 1868 John P. Reynolds of Salem, Massachusetts, patented a system of displaying a veteranís service record as a work of art called an escutcheon. The general design of these escutcheons was a shield with portions designated to the veteransí ranks, positions, units, and the battles in which they participated. These lithographs and paintings ranged in price from $5 to as much as $125 or more. By 1875 Reynolds had taken on Walter C. Strickler as a partner, a relationship that would end after 1878. Stricklerís role was traveling around the country selling escutcheons. In addition to contacting individual veterans, he also made presentations at local G.A.R. posts and set up a display at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. In an effort to attract new business, the company displayed the escutcheons of several well-known leaders including Generals U.S. Grant, William T. Sherman, and Philip Sheridan at the Philadelphia exposition. They also solicited written testimonials from other prominent veterans such as Ambrose Burnside, Rutherford B. Hayes, Joshua Chamberlain, and John F. Hartranft.

It is unclear from the incomplete business records how long Reynolds & Co. continued to produce escutcheons, but by 1888, Strickler had formed a competing company (Army and Navy Escutcheon Company) and had been discharged by the board of directors for poor management. The new company was sold to F. H. Dyer of Detroit, Michigan.

Scope and Content

The records of the Reynolds Escutcheon Company are an incomplete collection of business records, the bulk of which is correspondence between the owner and company sales representative Walter C. Strickler. These letters tell of Stricklerís experiences introducing and selling the escutcheons to veterans, especially U.S. Grant and William T. Sherman, and veteransí organizations, the display at the Centennial Exposition, and his, sometimes blunt, advice on business matters. Small illustrations of various escutcheons and emblems used on them are occasionally included. Other correspondence includes that of J. P. Reynolds, letters from other sales representatives, and letters from veterans ordering escutcheons or inquiring about them. The design for patent used in 1868 is in this collection as well as a large quantity of order blanks completed by veterans who purchased escutcheons.

Despite the lack of financial and administrative records or board of directorsí minutes, the collection provides some insights into the companyís operations and its struggle to survive as it attempted to sell a unique and highly personalized memento of military service. The correspondence and sales material extend from 1868 to 1888.

A much smaller part of the collection is comprised of miscellaneous notes and records of the Massachusetts Adjutant Generalís office, dating from 1885 to 1888. Reynolds may have been actively involved in the operations of this state office while managing his own business.

Inventory

Ac. 973

1.5 linear ft.

 

Box 1

Folder  1 J.P. Reynolds Correspondence n.d., 1868-1875
            2 J.P. Reynolds Correspondence 1876-1881
            3 W.C. Strickler Correspondence n.d. & 1875
            4 W.C. Strickler Correspondence Jan.-Aug. 1876
            5 W.C. Strickler Correspondence Sept.-Dec. 1876
            6 W.C. Strickler Correspondence Jan.-April 1877
            7 W.C. Strickler Correspondence May-Dec. 1877
            8 W.C. Strickler Correspondence Jan.-May 1878
            9 W.C. Strickler Correspondence June-Dec. 1878
            10 Albert Welles Correspondence
            11 C.H. Wildman Correspondence
            12 Correspondence of Sales Representatives
            13 Correspondence pf Veterans - Orders/Inquiries 1868-1873
            14 Correspondence of Veterans - Orders/Inquiries 1874-1880
            15 Service Records for Escutcheons
            16 Lists of Orders
            17 Order Blanks
            18 Order Blanks
            19 Order Blanks
            20 Matters Relating to Design Patent
            21 Miscellaneous
            22 Other Escutcheon Makers
            23 Newspaper Clippings
            24 Massachusetts Adjutant General - Correspondence
            25 Massachusetts Adjutant General - Military Accounts
            26 Massachusetts Adjutant General - Officersí Duty & Pay
            27 Massachusetts Adjutant General - Materiel Accounts
            28 Lydia Lowe Estate
            29 Photocopies of Material Relating to R.B. Hayes Escutcheon
                (Separate file) J.P. Reynolds design. Patent, July 14, 1868

go to top of page

Return to Rutherford B. Hayes Home Page

[Hayes Home | Museum | Library | Dillon House | Manuscripts | Biography]
[Membership | Store | Events Calendar | Staff | News Releases | Summary Background]
[R.B. Hayes Diary and Letters | Reception Desk: Hours, Map, Admission]