Robert Ensko Inc. records
Language of Materials
The collection includes the extensive records of the Robert Ensko Inc. company, a New York City-based purveyor of antique and reproduction silver objects, from around the time of its incorporation in 1929 to the close of the business in 1970 shortly after the death of its principal, Stephen G.C. Ensko. The records include business correspondence, photographs of silver objects, inventories, client/customer sales tickets and other transaction records, invoices to Ensko from silversmiths, engravers, and other suppliers, and other documents.
Biographical / Historical
The firm Robert Ensko Inc. was a New York City-based purveyor, or retailer, of antique and reproduction British and American silver. The firm was incorporated in 1929 by its namesake and founder, Robert Ensko (1855-1934), and the present collection includes the records of the firm from that date of incorporation. But the firm pointed to 1878 as its founding year and Robert likely operated in a sole proprietorship capacity until 1929. Robert was well-known in the trade as the author of an important reference work, "Makers of American Silver," published in 1915. The firm was located at 682 Lexington Avenue in Manhattan.
At the time of incorporation in 1929, Robert continued as president of the firm, with his son Stephen G.C. (Guernsey Cook) Ensko as treasurer and a nephew, Charles Ensko, as secretary. Charles would retire and Robert would die soon after the firm's incorporation. Stephen (1896-1969), along with his brother, Lamont, remained as principal of the firm until his death. Stephen established himself as an authority on silver, authoring the first edition of "American Silversmiths and Their Marks" in 1927 and "English Silver 1675–1825" in 8 volumes, with Edward Wenham.
Stephen married Dorothea J. Winterloff (1892–1977) in 1918. They had three children, including Dorothea Charlotte (1920–2014), the donor of the collection to New-York Historical. Dorothea Charlotte married Vernon C. Wyle in 1944; Wyle was active in the family business for at least a time. After Stephen's death in December 1969, the firm continued business for a few months, but closed in 1970. The inventory was distributed to an extent among the family, with the rest auctioned.
The collection is organized in 5 series:
Series I. Correspondence (1796-1798, 1934-1970)
Series II. Photographs and Pictorial Works (1787, 1908-1971)
Series III. Inventories and Financial Records (1929-1978)
Series IV. Client Lists & Related Records (1937-1970)
Series V. Sales Tickets and Invoices (1941-1970)
Scope and Contents
The collection includes the records of the Robert Ensko Inc. company from around the time of its incorporation in 1929 to the close of the business in 1970. The records are particularly strong in documenting the firm's transactions with its clients/customers. The related records include correspondence, order tickets, invoices, shipping and contact lists, index cards of client transaction data, client "has and wants" lists, and ledgers. An especially notable client represented extensively in the records is the New York Racing Association, for which Ensko was the provider of trophies and other awards for races at Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga from at least the late 1950s through 1970. The New York Yacht Club and Yale University are among the many other organizations that purchased silver presentation objects from Ensko.
Also well-represented in the collection are records relating to Ensko's transactions with its providers of antique and reproduction silver and engraving, and Ensko's inventory of objects. These records include invoices (bills paid) from the suppliers to Ensko, stock purchase journals, index cards of object-level data, correspondence with dealers, inventory catalogues, and the like.
Other records include correspondence concerning inquiries from museum curators, researchers and others about historical silversmiths; correspondence concerning appraisals of holdings by estates and others of silver objects, with some related inventories; photographs (prints and negatives) of silver objects; research and reference notes on silversmiths; tax filings; general business expenses; and other material.
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Application to use images from this collection for publication should be made in writing to: Department of Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194, firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282.
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The collection should be cited as: Robert Ensko Inc. records, MS 200, New-York Historical Society.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Stephen G.C. Ensko's daughter, Dorothea (Dee) Charlotte Wyle, in 1991, with a small addition from Wyle in 2003.
About this Guide
The collection was processed to only a minimal extent in 2020-21 by archivists Elise Winks and Larry Weimer. Consequently many documents remain roughly organized in original folders, and even loose in boxes in many cases. Nonetheless, given the size of the collection, some emphasis was placed on describing the collection, so the finding aid and container list is a fairly complete representation of the content.