Southern New England Chapter Society for Industrial Archeology
SIA’s 2004 33rd Annual Conference
Author: Duncan Fay


The triangle between Providence, the "Silver City" of Taunton, MA, and the "birthplace of the jewelry industry in America" at Attleboro, MA has long been a center for light metalworking - jewelry, watches, writing instruments, flatware, and hollowware. Unlike textiles, or automobiles, these manufacturers have been noticeably resistant to vertical integration. Many of the region’s products are assembled from parts produced by independent suppliers and they are likely to be shipped out for plating and finishing at to other independent shops before going to market.

A family owned business since 1904, Guyot Brothers Company is a leading manufacturer of decorative stampings and jewelry findings - small, often highly detailed and ornate pieces of metal that other manufacturers use to embellish jewelry, commemorative items, cutlery , and decorative objects.

Numa Guyot, the company founder, emigrated from Switzerland at the turn-of-the-century. Trained as an engraver, Guyot started business cutting steel hubs for Attleboro’s findings and stampings manufacturers. (Hubs are the positive master for a stamping. Carved in steel, then hardened, hubs are pressed into other steel blocks to form negative impression dies. Dies, or a succession of dies, stamp out the final product, usually in brass, silver, or some other comparatively soft metal. Dies wear out after repeated stampings. The hubs are maintained in order to make new dies.)

As business grew, N. Guyot and Sons expanded beyond carving hubs for other manufacturers and started producing stampings form Numa’s own designs. After business growth during the ‘20s and incorporation as Guyot Brothers in 1925, the company manufactured a number of jewelry parts under its own patents, including buttons, open-work filigree, decorative necklace closures, and expandable chain for watchbands. Like most manufacturers of decorative products, the Guyot Brothers Company was directed to turn its productive capacity to war work during the 1940s. Throughout World War II they stamped out stretcher fittings, tourniquet clamps, buckles, and military insignia.

Today, Guyot Brothers Company produces an extraordinary array of jewelry stampings including charms, filigree, and ornaments. Although the company does some stampings in silver, the majority of its products are shipped out in raw brass to be assembled and plated by its customers. (Their on-line catalog and glossary of jewelry finding terms give some sense of the sheer variety of Guyot’s production.) In addition to an in-house tool room for hub cutting and die sinking, their plant includes presses with capacities of 5 to 100 tons, drop hammers up to 400 pounds, and foot presses for assembly work.

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