Chryso-Ceramics in Colorado

Soon to be on exhibit, this beautiful coffee service set has a unique history—not only because of who owned it, but also who made it. From the estate of Townsend Sherman McAllister, the set was donated to History Colorado in 1970. The donor’s father, Henry McAllister Jr. was raised in Colorado Springs and in 1896 married his college sweetheart Phebe Ketcham of Jericho, Long Island. In 1898, son Townsend Sherman was born in Colorado Springs, followed by Henry III in 1904. In 1906, the family moved to Denver where Henry Jr. established his general law practice. Phebe was active in St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral, as well as in the Colonial Dames and Monday Literary Club. A prominent family in Denver, the McAllisters often entertained in their home at 1880 Gaylord Street. Guests not only enjoyed good food and company, they sat on antique furniture from Phebe’s family who settled Jericho, Long Island, during Colonial times and enjoyed beautiful art.

Phebe McAllister had exquisite taste and this coffee set is no exception. One of many items used by Phebe and Henry McAllister Jr. in their Gaylord Street home, this set dates to circa 1915. Initially, the pieces appear to be Limoges, as a number of pieces are marked “Limoges” on the underside. Further research reveals that the forms were actually made by Tressemann & Vogt in Limoges, France and decorated by Healey Chryso-Ceramics of Washington, D.C., a company founded by Emily Healey and her sister Mary around 1890.

The sisters discovered a process by which to fully cover ceramics in gold, resulting in a durable, smooth and brilliantly colored surface that looked metallic in appearance. The sisters did not make the forms, but rather acquired them from leading manufacturers of the time including Belleek, Berlin, Limoges and Tressemann & Vogt. Once decorated, the pieces were sold directly to customers by the company or acquired by consumers at first class jewelers such as Tiffany & Co. The company gained major recognition after the sisters exhibited their works at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.  After 1893 their wares were sold and shipped in large quantities. The company remained in business until the late 1920s.