Throughout history, jewelry has been a part of human adornment. Some of the earliest artifacts of the human race are jewelry. They have found shells with holes in them that were probably worn as jewelry thousands of years ago. The modern jeweler fills that place in today’s society. Along with retailing rings, necklaces and bracelets, many of the jewelers along the way were also watchmakers.
Salisbury has the sixth oldest jewelry store in the United States in Kuhn’s. The original owner was Amos W. Woodcock, who started the business in 1853. He sold it to G. M. Fisher in 1906, who sold it to his employee, John A. Kuhn, in 1923. The store remains today on Main St. in Salisbury operating as Kuhn’s Jewelers.
When Amos Woodcock started, he was the only jeweler inSalisbury. By 1878, a D. B. Farlow was listed as a jeweler. Farlow is not listed by 1891, although two new businesses listed themselves as jewelers. They were C. E. Harper and George W. Phipps. Harper took on a partner by the turn of the century, and their business was listed as Harper & Taylor.
The Salisbury Directory of 1907 lists Harper & Taylor, George W. Phipps along with the newly acquired store of Amos Woodcock by G. M. Fisher. G. M. Fisher put out a “calendar plate” beginning in 1910. In 1912, there were many different plates with the central theme of fruits, flowers or a Victorian lady in different styles of dress. The last one he put out was in 1913 and is slightly smaller than the previous plates. The same basic list of jewelers was in place in 1916 with the only difference being a W. J. Collins replacing George W. Phipps. Five years later, in 1921, only G. M. Fisher and Harper & Taylor were listed.
By 1931, Harper & Taylor was not listed. This could be as a result of the Peninsula Hotel burning down in 1929. Harper & Taylor had their business in the hotel and probably elected to not relocate their business elsewhere after the fire. Although they did not continue, two new jewelers appeared on the scene, W. C. Collins and Russell P. White.
In the directory of 1940, there appeared two more familiar names, Charles A. Blizzard and Preston W. Burbage. These two, along with Kuhn’s and White’s, were the mainstay jewelry stores well into the 1960’s.
There have been other names listed as jewelry stores that are all but forgotten now. Names such as S. Goldinger, Ira F. Hearn, Joseph W. Brown, Herman W. English and Richard W. Fields are now but a memory. And businesses such as Bailey’s Time Shop and Dixon’s may bring back a memory to someone.
The largest jewelry store of my youth was Castleberg’s. It was located initially in the Wicomico Hotel and had the large corner store that faced both Main and Division Streets. They later moved down Main St. where they maintained their jewelry and watch business. The last of the great watchmakers in Salisbury, Rodney Graves, was employed there and still works out of a shop behind his house.
Now, you can get jewelry from any number of stores, but you can’t get your watch repaired by a true artisan. I remember Mr. Graves always had a series of magnifying loops attached to his glasses for close viewing, In fact, with the advent of the new digital watches; there is not much to repair. When something happens to it, you just throw it away and get a new one. Another example that we have become a throw-away society.