Do you enjoy history? So do I. Let’s take a trip back to 1901. That’s the year that Frank Skiff and his brother-in-law, Frank Ross went into business together. They had a reliable horse and a sturdy wagon and a dream to go with them. They thought instead of folks having to leave their homes to buy goods, why not take the goods to the people? So they set off to do just that!
Other tea companies had come up with the same concept, but the Jewel Tea company made it better. They offered a premium with the first order. Sort of like a “bonus” to attract future business. The idea was a great one because it set the two Franks out on a road paved with profits and the promise of more business than they could imagine!
Back then, if something was considered to be superior it was called a “jewel”. That’s why they decided to name the company “Jewel Tea”. The Jewel Tea company was incorporated in Chicago, Illinois in 1903. By 1904 many new routes opened outside of the Chicago area and in 1906 they entered the food-manufacturing field. It began with baking powder and by 1908 they were roasting their own coffee!
Jewel Tea company was incorporated under the laws of New York State in 1916, and listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Sales reached $15 million in 1917 with over 1700 routes in operation. The first World War had an adverse effect on them and other companies, but because of John M. Hancock, the Jewel Tea company was operating in the black by 1921.
The company moved its operations from Chicago to Barrington, Illinois in 1930. They started selling household products through salesmen traveling the country until 1981. Jewel Tea kept housewives supplied with spices and baking powder to cleaning supplies, cookware, linens and china.
The National Autumn Leaf Collector’s Club has been a fun way to keep this history alive. The members of the club collect this antique china and are always searching for an old Jewel tin that once contained some sort of spice, tea or baking powder. At the annual conventions, members bring their rare treasures to show others. It’s a real treasure hunt of sorts. We are interested in everything Jewel Tea, but of course our real interest is in the Autumn Leaf patterned china. ❤