(Missing glass replaced with iron)
Location: New York:
- 192 Broadway "near John street" (1815-1839)
- 9 Astor House "Entrance in Barclay street" (1840-1845)
- 413 Broadway (1846-1847)
- E. & S. S. Rockwell (1815-1847)
- Edward Rockwell (1744-1828)
- b.10/4/1744, Middletown CT
- =Lucy Strong (b.6/13/1747 in Middletown),
3/25/1773 in Middletown;
- Samuel Strong Rockwell (1787-?), Silversmith
- b.5/19/1787, Middletown
- "He was a partner from 1815 to 1847 with Edward Rockwell in
New York City NY as E. & S. S. ROCKWELL. Located at 192
Broadway, 1815-1839; at 9 Astor House, 1840-1845; and at
413 Broadway, 1846-1847." —American Silversmiths
Edward Rockwell's Patent Vault Light of 1834
is the earliest in the United States. It has the curious designation
8058X and only the drawing remains (the description is lost). The
patent is for a round iron cover with a single huge glass eye in the
center, fully half the diameter of the whole cover. It must have
looked fantastic, but been fragile.
- In 1834, two were installed in front of "the Exchange" in New-York,
and others in front of the Gazette.
- Two frames (sans glass) are presently in the
Cohill collection, and
another (also sans glass) still on the street in Brooklyn.
- "Rockwell's patent vault lights. 192 Broadway. The great usefulness
of the above lights, not only for vaults intended for safety of goods
in case of fire, and for the deposit of coal, &c., but by giving
so much light, and at the same time excluding all wet, dust and frost,
they make an underground apartment (when judiciously constructed and
made white) a valuable place for business. Persons wishing to
introduce them in other cities would do well to apply as above."
—New-York as it is: containing a general description of the City
of New-York; list of officers, public institutions, and other useful
information: including the public officers, &c. of the City of
Brooklyn: with additions and corrections: accompanied by a correct map
- "E. & S. S. Rockwell, patent vault light—A silver medal."
—Niles' weekly register, September 1834 to March 1835,
Volume 47 (Hezekiah Niles, William Ogden Niles)
- "For Metallic Rims for Vault Lights; Edward Rockwell,
city of New York, March 8. This patent, it appears, is taken for
preparing a frame of cast iron to receive the lights of plano-convex,
or other formed glass. ''The invention claimed is the use of
ornamental or plain cast metal frames, or chases, to protect
semi-plano lights for vessels' decks, vaults under pavements,
and other subterranean apartments; the glass being perfectly
well protected, and the cast iron frame highly ornamental, and
made of any size, shape, and of any metal, and to be used for
all purposes.'' Perhaps a patent of this kind may deprive all
but the patentee of a right to put a glass light into a metal rim,
but we do not, at present, believe that it will. The kind of
glass mentioned, semi-plano, is a form with which we are not
acquainted." —Journal of the Franklin Institute (LIST OF
AMERICAN PATENTS WHICH ISSUED IN MARCH, 1834)
- "We are decidedly in favor of having a fire proof vault in front
of each store, to be deep, and extend half across the street,
with an iron door— An entire stock of goods can be safely
thrown into a vault properly built, and having Rockwell's patent
lights from above, and would be found undamaged after a fire;
strong arches from above, stone foundation and floor, a deep
flight of steps and an iron door, would effectually shut out all
damage from above. We hope to see it tried."
—The Biblical Recorder, January 6, 1836
- "BOLD AND SUCCESSFUL BURGLARY. The watch and jewelry store of
Messrs. E. & S. S. Rockwell, No. 9 Astor House, Broadway, was
burglariously entered on Sunday night and robbed of valuable gold
and silver watches, diamond rings, gold chains, plate of various
kinds, such as silver forks, spoons, &c., the whole estimated
to be worth from $15,000 to $20,000, which the burglars carried
away. They entered by first getting into the adjoining untenanted
store, formerly occupied by Mr. Simpson as a crockery store, whence
they bored and broke through the partition wall, 18 inches thick.
Mr. Rockwell was in his store about 7 o'clock on Sunday morning,
and heard an unusual noise in the wall; but observing every thing
apparently right, thought little more of the matter until the
burglary and robbery was discovered. Entrance was effected by
picking the lock of the adjoining store. This was apparently done
on Saturday night. On reaching the inside it was found that the
door could not be locked, and a hole was accordingly bored near
the lock with a gimlet, and the door fastened with a spike. The
keyhole was also plugged up so that no one could look in. The
robbers were probably at work all day Sunday. In the morning, as
above stated, Mr. Rockwell heard a strange noise in the wall,
and in the afternoon at about 4 o'clock the occupants of the store
on the other side heard a similar noise, but attributed it to rats
in the wall. The robbers only took about half of what was within
their reach, and made their exit by passing out at the door in
Barclay-street just below the drug store of Rushton & Aspinwall.
No trace has yet been obtained of the robbers, though we understand
that one of the Police officers some days since warned the Messrs.
Rockwell against such an attempt upon their premises. The offer
of a handsome reward would probably lead to speedy detection."
—New York Tribune, Sep 5, 1843
- "$1000 REWARD — The store of the subscribers was burglariously
entered during Sunday and Sunday night, the 3d inst., and a large
amount of Watches, Diamonds, Jewelry and Silver Ware taken, for the
recovery of which the above reward will be given, or a proportionate
amount for any part of it. E. & S. S. ROCKWELL, No. 9 Astor
House"—New York Tribune, Date?
These Rockwell covers are part of the Cohill's collection of 50, once
destined for the landfill (in the 1960s) but rescued instead, now displayed
in a custom brick patio at their Amityville, Long Island home, where they
are safe forever! Tom and Toni graciously allowed photographer Julia Bedriy
access to shoot them. Sadly, both are lacking the original glass lens.
Photos: Julia Bedriy
This light, still installed in the wild in Brooklyn Heights, NYC,
is also missing its jewel.
Photos: Julia Bedriy
The Evening Post, Jan 16, 1834
ROCKWELL'S PATENT VAULT LIGHTS— For the purpose
of giving light to Rooms or Vaults under the side walks—to
make rooms light, tight and dry—suitable for work shops or
offices, kitchens or reading rooms, or any other purposes that may
be required—to make the side walks (as it regards Vaults) safe
for passengers, and all other purposes.
To be seen at the Merchants Exchange
(Sales Room) at the Hall of Records; at the Lackawana Coal Office,
256 Broadway; at Abisha Smith & Co.'s stone yard, 430 Washington
st.; and at E. & S. S. ROCKWELL, 192 Broadway, where orders will be
received for any quantity.
The Long Island Star, Oct 22, 1835
Patent Vault Lights.
The undersigned, Mechanics and Builders of the city of New-York,
having examined Mr. Rockwell's PATENT VAULT LIGHTS, have no
hesitation in pronouncing them a very great improvement, and
far superior to any other Vault Covering now in use in this city,
being not only durable and ornamental, but safe, and answering a
very valuable purpose in giving light to Vaults, and keeping them
free from rain and dirt.
For sale by E. & S. S. ROCKWELL, No. 192 Broadway, New-York,
Oct. 15, 1835.
||Saml. Thomson & Sons,
Henry W. Titus
Thomas T. Woodruff,
Wm. W. Berwick,
|M. E. Thompson,
Richard F. Carman,
Geo. B. Smith, St. Com.
The Evening Post, Jan 13, 1841
ROCKWELL'S PATENT VAULT LIGHTS—This being the
season when they are found particularly useful, we have taken care to
be provided with a good supply, and having made great improvement in
the manner of securing the glass in the iron, so as to entirely remove
all danger of becoming loose or getting broken, and also had great
improvement in the quality of the glass itself, and having paid great
personal attention to the manufacturing of them we are enabled to
recommend them as being very substantial and more durable than any
other kind of vault cover in use
E & S F [sic] ROCKWELL, No 9 Astor House, entrance in
New York Tribune, Dec 2, 1842
ROCKWELL'S PATENT VAULT LIGHTS—so useful to
exclude wet, dust and frost, and at the same time admit light,
greatly improved for strength and durability—for sale at No. 9
Astor House, entrance in Barclay-st.