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Bailey Banks Biddle - The Fall of Bailey Banks and Biddle

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The history of Bailey Banks and Biddle goes all the way back to 1832 when it was known as Bailey and Kitchen. The establishment became one of the most popular jewelry stores in Philadelphia. In 1846, Joseph Bailey took on two new partners who were also jewelers: George Banks and Samuel Biddle. This partnership would come to last a lifetime. The company eventually expanded and stores were opened across the country.

The popularity of Bailey Banks and Biddle soared, and the company became known as the jeweler of the Presidents. The company was also given several important design commissions throughout the years. Among their commissioned work are the following:

• 1860 – One-cent pieces were designed for the Confederacy. Twelve samples were made, but production never started due to the war.
• 1860 – Around the same time, they were also commissioned by the Union to design swords for notable Union Generals.
• 1865 – The mortuary medal for Abraham Lincoln’s funeral was designed.
• 1904 – Created the Great Seal of the United States.
• 1905 – Designed the current Medal of Honor.
• 1917 – Created the first military “pilot wing” emblems.
• 1932 – Designed the Purple Heart medal.

In 1961, Bailey Banks and Biddle was bought out by the Zale Corporation, but the brand name was still used. By 2007, the company had 70 stores in 31 states. Zale began experiencing financial difficulties in 2007, and in 2008, they sold Bailey Banks and Biddle to Finlay Enterprises. At the time, Zale announced that Bailey Banks and Biddle was profitable but that it just didn’t fit in with their brand portfolio. Later that same year, Zale closed 105 of its own stores.

Finlay Enterprises operated several jewelry brands in top department stores such as Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Bon Ton, Dillard, and Lord & Taylor. Under Finlay Enterprise, Bailey Banks and Biddle had 110 locations.

The company had a large and loyal following. Many of their customers claimed to never set foot in another jewelry store. Some of their most popular pieces were engagement rings. Bailey Banks and Biddle engagement rings were said to give a woman both style and a sense of individuality. The company had several popular types of jewelry:

• Necklaces – Necklaces and pendants were popular. They specialized in three-stone pendants, crosses, and hearts.
• Earrings – Diamond studs and hoops were popular choices for women, and they were often available in sets with bracelets and necklaces.
• Anniversary Rings – Popular styles included the half-eternity ring and rings with a five-stone setting.
• Men’s Jewelry – Although they specialized in women’s jewelry, they also had very popular lines of men’s wedding bands, chains, and cuff links.

On August 5, 2009, Finlay Enterprises made a shocking announcement – the company had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. As part of the bankruptcy deal, All Bailey Banks and Biddle stores were liquidating their assets and inventory to pay off creditors. Once all assets and inventory were sold, the stores would be closed.

Loyal supporters rushed to Bailey Banks and Biddle stores after the liquidation sales began to make their final goodbye purchases. Soon after, the stores closed as promised, and their website went out of commission. With the closing of Bailey Banks and Biddle, America lost a company that played a major role in the history of the country.

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