Holt Howard became one of the largest importing companies in America. However they did not start out that way. Brothers John and Robert Howard, and Grant Holt met and became friends while at the Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts. The parents of the boys loaned them $9,000.00 to start their business. The business started in 1949 in an apartment on 35th Street in Manhatten, New York.
Each of the young men had their own nitch in the company. Product developing and sourcing was handled by Robert Howard. His brother John took care of sales management. Financial and office concerns were Grant Holt's main duty.
All of their early products were American made. They did not start out as an importing company. In the beganning they concentrated on Christmas items. Their first big seller was an Angel-Abra. After selling this adorble item Holt Howard's Christmas line became very popular and the boys were headed for success. In the 1950s Christmas items were very popular. Soon Holt-Howard began to branch out ito kitchen-related items which also met with great success.
They designed many different mugs for everyday use and have been attributed with inventing this concept. Until this time coffee mugs were not used daily in American homes.
As the business became more successful the operation moved to 126 E. 28th Street and opened its first showroom at 225 Fifth Ave in Manhatten.
Kitchenware was so popular that Holt-Howard designed the Pixieware line (1958) which was an instant success.
The company continued to grow, but manufacturing costs were also continuing to climb. As a result, Robet Howard traveled to Japan and signed contracts with manufacturing companies there. He selected only the best companies to produce Holt-Howard products. With the continual growth of the company, other companies with Holt-Howard signed contracts were located in more then 20 countries in Asia and Europe.
Holt-Howard eventually relocated its headquarters to Spruce Street in Stanford, Connecticut. This location was changed several times and they finally settled in at 200 Henry St. Even though they remained a Connecticut company Holt-Howard kept their showroom in New York. Holt-Howard then branched into four separate companies: Holt-Howard Canada, Holt-Howard West, Holt-Howard International, and also enjoyed a partial holding in John E. Buck & Co. Ltd. in Colchester, England.
Holt-Howard sold their wares to specialty gift shops, and large department stores. They also had a mail order catalog business that grew as the years progressed.
The Holt-Howard leaders were well known for their creativity. As times changed, so did they. They created many fine lines which became best sellers. Some of the better known lines include:
Chistmas Collectibles (1950s-1970s)
Cats-Cozy Kitten (1950s)
Red Rooster (1960-70s)
Merry Mouse (1950-60s)
Coin Banks (Late 50s)
Holt-Howard is responsible for many other novelites as well. A few other importers such as Davar and Lefton produced similar designs.
Due to their creativity Holt-Howard continued to survive and do well until 1968 when they were bought out by General Housewares. The three original partners left the company and the new owners renamed the company and looked in new directions for their merchandise. Without the innovative leadership of the former partners, the company sales went into a steep decline. In 1990, the remainder of the company was sold to Kay Dee Designs of Rhode Island.
The brief history for this article was taken from the book "Holt-Howard Collectibles and Related Ceramicwares of the 50s and 60s" by Walter Dworkin. This is an excellent source of information on Holt-Howard.