J. W. Fiske

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J. W. Fiske
N. Y.

J. W. Fiske Iron Works were prolific iron (zinc, bronze, etc.) merchants active in New York from 1865 until the 1950s. In the mid-1950s they relocated to Paterson, New Jersey, where they stayed in business another 25 years. Internet auction sites are replete with J. W. Fiske products like fountains, hitching posts, weather vanes, iron railings, stable fixtures, and sculptures. Perhaps most impressive is the 1875 Fiske Illustrated Catalogue and Price List which can be downloaded from the Open Library.

This page from the catalogue lists many of the Fiske products.

Carol A. Grissom in Zinc Sculpture in American 1850-1950 (2009) writes extensively about J. W. Fiske sculptures, including, "J. W. Fiske was established in 1858 by Joseph Winn Fiske and headed by family members until it closed in 1986... Beginning in the early 1860s Fiske sold ironwork in New York, including fireplace equipment, brackets, umbrella racks, weather vanes, horse-stable equipment and garden appliances. The company introduced zinc garden figures and cast-iron fountains with zinc statues shortly after the Civil War... The patterns for statues owned by the company were considered a primary asset. According to J. W. Fiske III, the actual modeling of statues, pattern making, and casting were jobbed out... Fiske's 1874 catalogue identifies the location of its zinc works in Williamsburg, Long Island, which is just across the East River from Manhattan. It seems that Fiske subcontracted more than one zinc founder in Williamsburg... Fiske's iron foundry, on the other hand, was located in York, Pennsylvania. A May 3, 1869, contract with E. G. Smyser of Variety Iron works in York stated that the Variety Iron Works would supply Fiske with 'all the Umbrella Stands - Tables - Table ends - Settes - Chairs - Hat stands, Fine Iron Stands - Flower Stands, Brackets and Spittoons as Illustrated in his Catalogue at Five cents per pound delivered free at the Depot in New York City...' During the 1940s J. W. Fiske Iron Works acquired the company, then known as Smyser/Royer, from the descendants of the original firm (Israel, 'Metalwork')."

The Wikipedia article on J. W. Fiske & Co. points out that Fiske "out-sourced the iron and zinc-alloy foundry-work itself." Fiske offices in New York, then, were centers for sales, design, etc. Primarily they were located at 78-80 Park Place and 69-71 Park Place (1913-1956).

An earlier location was 39-41 Park Place represented by this ad from 1907.

The Fiske entry in Sweet’s Architectural Catalogue, 1917, included a long list of products, including, among others, Altar Rails; Andirons and Fire Sets; Animal Statuary; Aquaria; Area Gratings; Automobile Washers (Overhead); Barn Equipment; Bird Bath Fountain; Brass and Bronze Railings; Bronze Lamp Standards and Brackets; Bronze Tablets and Sundials; Cesspool Frames and Covers; Chain Link Fencing; Clean-Out Doors; Climbproof Galvanized Wire Fending; Coal Chutes; Cork Brick; Cow Stalls, Calf and Bull Pens; Drinking Fountains; Entrance Gates; Fire Escapes; Flag Pole Bases, Balls and Trucks; Folding Gates; Fountain Jets; Kennel Yards; Lamp Posts and Brackets; Leader Shoes; Lightning Rods; Manhole Frames, Covers and Gratings; Marquees; Ornamental Iron Work; Poultry Runs; Park Benches; Pipe Railings; Paddock Enclosures; Road Boxes (Cast Iron); Sanitary Stall Drains; Settees, Chairs, Tables; Spiral Stairs; Stable Fittings; Statuary (Metal); Street Sign Posts; Sundials and Pedestals; Swimming Pool Equipment; Tennis Court Enclosures; Traffic Standards; Tree Guards; Trench Covers and Curbing; Turnstiles; Umbrella Stands; Vases; Vestibule Doors; Weather Vanes . . .

The Fiske entry in Sweet’s Architectural Catalogues, 1933, included as follows: "J. W. Fiske Iron Works, Ornamental Iron, Brass, Bronze, Wire and Zinc Work. 69-71 Park Place, New York, N. Y. Established 1858. Products: Ornamental Metal Work and Fencing as follows: Ornamental Entrance Doors, Window Guards, Lamps and Lamp Standards; Metal Stairs; Memorial Tablets; Fountains; Iron Railings and Entrance Gates; Woven Wire and Climbproof Chain Link Fencing. Also Brass and Bronze Railings; Andirons and Fire Sets; Fire Escapes; Flagpole Bases; Balls and Trucks; Folding Gates; Leader Shoes; Marquises; Garden and Park Furniture; Sundials; Tree Guards; Wire Partitions. Sanitary Stable and Barn Equipment."

Fiske products illustrated in Sweet's 1933 included an ornamental gate and spiral stairs.

The founder of J. W. Fiske was Joseph Winn Fiske (1832-1903). Notice of his death appeared as follows in the New York Times, 22 Oct. 1903, "Joseph W. Fiske, President of the J. W. Fiske Iron Works in New York, died Tuesday evening at the residence of his nephew, John M. Fiske, 63 Washington Street, East Orange, at the age of seventy-three. He began business in New York in 1858, but practically retired from business fifteen years ago. He had been in poor health for some time. He was born in Boston. He is survived by a wife and three children."

Successors to Joseph W. Fiske I were two nephews, sons of his brother, Benjamin Minot Fiske (1826-1901). These were John Minot Fiske (1853-1942) and Joseph Winn Fiske II (1857-1930). The third generation of Fiskes in the business was made up of Warren Russell Fiske (1886-1967), son of Joseph W. Fiske II. The fourth generation consisted of Joseph Warren Fiske (1923- ), son of Warren R. Fiske.

Other Fiske products found on the streets of New York include the following:

J W Fiske Iron Works
443-449 E. 47th St.
J W Fiske Iron Works
225 E. 67th St.
J W Fiske Iron Works N Y
Bronx Zoo
J W Fiske N Y
2 Cornelia St.
J W Fiske N Y
27 Perry St.
J W Fiske
68 W. 87th St.
J W Fiske New York
Church of Heavenly Rest

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Copyright (c) 2012 Walter Grutchfield