December 15, 2009

Sanford Bray

Last August, I posted this patent issued to Sanford Bray in 1886 for what we now know as the copper foil technique. A man named Patrick Horn saw that post and sent me some further information on Bray. Patrick found it while doing genealogical research. I thought I would put the info and documents out and see if anyone is interested in them. It's all a bit of a puzzle, but the pieces from Patrick do seem to fit, even if they still leave a very incomplete story.

Joining Glass Mosaics (links to full patent on Google Patents)
by Sanford Bray, Boston, MA
patent # 349424, issued 1886


The most interesting and surprising fact is that this patent was issued to Bray when he was only 27 years old.

The images from Patrick Horn, plus some text, and a little comment after the fold...

from a biographical entry on John Bradley Hudson Jr., a painter who was Sanford Bray's father-in-law. -
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1880 Census Document with Sanford and his father and mother.
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Sanford was 21 in 1880 and is listed as a sign painter. The most surprising thing in this census entry is that Sanford is listed as 'totally deaf'. No other document lists this.

1900 Census document - clipped to show only the Bray and Hudson families
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1930 Census document - clipped to show only the Bray info
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Painting by John Bradley Hudson Jr.

Portrait of John Bradley Hudson Jr.

Los Angeles Directory, 1937, mentioning Bray, his wife and son

This is the text info I got from Patrick, from census records mostly.

Patrick Horn - dec 8

I still don't know when Sanford died, but I found him up until 1943 (age 85) in Alhambra, Los Angeles Co., California. I found old U.S. City Directories with him, his wife (Alice Francis Hudson) and his son (Joseph Hudson Bray). The last one which stated his occupation (Stained Glass Worker) was from 1937.

Sanford Bray
Birth - 12 Nov 1858, Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts
Death - California

Parents & Siblings
Father - Joseph Bray (1833-)
Mother - Louisa Delano (1831-1890)

Spouse & Children
Spouse - Alice Francis Hudson (1865-1951)
Son - Joseph Hudson Bray (1898-)

21 Sep - Age: 27 - U.S. Patent
Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts
Patent for Joining Glass Mosiacs

1888 - Age: 30
Company Purchased By Tiffany's
no source

1895 - 26 Jun - Age: 36
Marriage to Alice Francis Hudson
Portland, Cumberland , Maine

1910 Age: 52 Residence
Waltham Ward 3, Middlesex, Massachusetts
source 1910 United States Federal Census

1920 - Age: 62 Residence
Waltham, Middlesex, Massachusetts
source 1920 United States Federal Census

1930 - Age: 72
Alhambra, Los Angeles, California
Occupation: Artist
source - 1930 United States Federal Census

The pieces do fit in with this Sanford Bray being the one who had the patent issued to him in 1886, but some questions remain.

Did Tiffany indeed purchase the patent in 1888? I have only ever heard that Bray sold his patent to Tiffany in 1888. I've never seen or heard of any documentation to confirm this. I'd be curious to know what the Tiffany scholars think of this.

There is also the question - If Sanford Bray remained working in stained glass all these years, where is the evidence of his work? Since he is listed, variously, as a 'stained glass worker' and a 'lead glazer' rather than as a stained glass artist, it would be easy to assume that he was not a designer, and therefore no designs of his would be around. But maybe not. Nevertheless, he either worked for other studios or had his own studio all these years. What studios? What kind of stained glass work did he do? There is no evidence of this.

I suspect the idea of who is Sanford Bray will remain an open puzzle for some time. I'll update if I get further info.

Posted by Tom at December 15, 2009 06:16 AM