Layko Ross and Company was in business as early as 1918. This company was incorporated in 1929 when Joseph Layko joined the firm. William Ross was founder and president; Layko was vice president.
The company was a wholesale importer/exporter that supplied retailers around the country. Some of the wares they distributed included: tie clasps, identification bracelets, collar bars, finger rings, lockets, crosses, necklaces, pendants, brooches, bar pins, neck chains, earrings, rosaries, watch bracelets, and watch attachments. They made in whole of, or part of, or plated with precious metal, belt buckles, key chains, key rings, bill clips and tableware.
William O. Ross was born around 1891. His family immigrated from Moscow, Russia. It is recorded that he was in Seattle in 1906. In 1920, he was a salaried public accountant, likely for the company he founded. In 1930, he was self-employed as an independent importer. By 1940 he had been president of his namesake wholesale jewelry company for some time. Mr. Ross passed away in 1969 in Seattle and is buried there. A number of employment ads reveal that the company was viable through the 1960s. The LaRoco trademark expired in 1971; presumably the company ceased operations about that time.
Joseph Layko was born around 1889 in New York. He graduated with a degree in business administration from New York City College. He joined the company in 1929 and spent a number of years in Japan, presumably exporting materials, goods, and supplies from there to Seattle. He only lived in Seattle for about 10 years but passed away there in 1956 at the age of 67.
LaRoco jewelry from the Collection of Carolyn Davis. Photos courtesy of Carolyn Davis.
One other employee found was Joseph R. Bodgen, who made jewelry for the company for 37 years. He was born in Lithuania and came to Seattle in 1913. He graduated from Franklin High School and served with the U.S. Army in France during World War II. He passed away in 1967 at age 58.
Some notable asides: In 1934, William Ross was the first Seattle resident to place a long-distance phone call to his partner Joseph Layko in Japan. They talked for five minutes and were billed $50 for the experience. In 1943, the company was noted for initiating a payroll plan to purchase World War II war bonds. Lastly, Mr. Ross was successful enough to seek a chauffeur in the want ads.
As Layko Ross & Company was a wholesaler, it isn’t surprising to see jewelry with the LaRoco cartouche that clearly was made by another company. The LaRoco mark is seen on DeLizza & Elster jewelry (known for the five-ring construction on bracelets), Regency, and Selro. Below is a known and verified Selro made bracelet and single earring. The earrings are marked La Roco.
Signed LaRoco; made by Selro from the Carolyn Davis Collection. – Photos courtesy of Carolyn Davis.
Layko Ross and Company was a viable business in Seattle for over 50 years. As seen on marked LaRoco pieces, Mr. Ross and Mr. Layko insisted on a high level of quality, which has endured well into the 21st century.
Sources: Seattle Daily Times Archives, Seattle Times Archives, U.S. Census, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, 1957 Jewelers Buyers Guide.
About the author: Carolyn Davis is known in the collecting community as a long-time costume jewelry enthusiast and for her contributions as a respected researcher and jewelry historian. Her effort in sharing her findings on LaRoco are much appreciated.