I found this pretty vintage Limoges tea set at one of my favorite local antique shops, Grand Bazaar in Mendham, NJ. The shop owner told me this was a real treasure because each piece is not only stamped with “Haviland Limoges France” mark but also with the notation “made expressly for House of Stewart New York City”. She explained that this china was made and decorated in Limoges, France to be sold exclusively by AT Stewart, the first department store in the U.S. I wanted to learn more so I went home and did some research.
In 1846, Irish-born entrepreneur Alexander Turney (AT) Stewart established the country’s first department store on Broadway’s east side between Chambers and Reade Streets called AT Stewart. Stewart offered European retail merchandise and was among the first to set fixed prices for his goods and draw female customers through special sales and fashion shows. (I had passed this building so many times never knowing this history). By the late 1850s, New York City’s retail business exploded, and Stewart followed other department stores, such as R.H. Macy, B. Altman and Lord & Taylor, farther uptown. The department stores established themselves in an area on Broadway and 6th Avenue between 9th and 23rd Streets, which would come to be called “Ladies Mile”. (Source: LowerManhattan.info website)
During this same period, Theodore Haviland, the son of David Haviland (founder of Haviland Limoges china company), lived primarily in New York City as he sold china all over America. He convinced the larger department stores to sell even more patterns of china by having their name imprinted on the back as a decorator mark. (Source: eBay reviews)