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up·cy·cle | /ˈəpˌsīk(ə)l/: 


to reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original.

As store owners who can feel every twist and turn in the economy, we're interested in stories of resilience. Challenging times are precisely when artists get to work. The story of Chase Brass & Copper Co. is a great example of resourcefulness and has our wheels spinning! 

Henry Sabin Chase founded the Chase Brass & Copper Co. of Waterbury Connecticut in 1876. The company quickly became a leading U.S. manufacturer of industrial copper and brass products. 

When the economy tanks in the 1930s, The Great Depression put a strangle hold on business. Chase had to pivot. did they survive? 

They completely reinvented themselves.

Enter the Chase Specialty Line and upcycling. Chase made a radical departure from traditional products for the construction and plumbing trades toward an entirely new, sleek, Art Deco homeware division with machine age leanings. 

Creative reuse of available supplies became crucial during this economically vulnerable time.  People may not have been building in the same way, but they were interested in a reasonably priced tea set that included a bowl for their sugar or a lantern for reading. Chase enlisted in house and outsider artists to repurpose existing industrial parts such as brass wire, tubing, and sheet metal into high quality modern homeware and gift products sold through stores across the country for reasonable prices.

The likes of Ruth Gerth (pictured), Walter Von Nessen, Russel Wright, Lurelle Guild, Harry Laylon, and Rockwell Kent all contributed their talents.

Let's take a look at a couple of examples of their resourcefulness below...

With The Glow Lamp of 1933, I can imagine Ruth Gerth’s transformation of a toilet float into a charming little lamp!!


Glow Lamp by Ruth Gerth for Chase


This two armed candelabra all came from copper tubing and brass fixtures already in production, which were then chrome plated!

Pair of Chrome "Taurex" Candlestick Holders by Walter Von Nessen for Chase


Walter Von Nessen's Diplomat Tea Set. Legend has it inspiration for this set came when he spotted some fluted pipes lying around the Chase plant.  


When World War II dominated geopolitics, Chase factories were forced to transition to wartime production. As a result, Chase's specialty line was discontinued after a mere 12 years. 

It was Chase's brief shelf-life that dramatically boosted their status as collectibles. 

Check out a few more of our current pieces and archival photos below!



Original Photo of Ring Bookends:

Pair of Ring Bookends by Walter von Nessen for Chase USA



Chase Three Piece Comet Tea Service Set with Bakelite Accents


Brass Lantern Lamp for Chase USA


A few more photos from the archives...








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