Watch CBS News

It Happens Here: Attleboro's jewelry history on display at the Industrial Museum

It Happens Here: Attleboro's jewelry history on display at the Industrial Museum
It Happens Here: Attleboro's jewelry history on display at the Industrial Museum 03:26

ATTLEBORO - Attleboro is known to some as "The Jewelry Capital of the World," and there's no better place to see some bling than the Attleboro Area Industrial Museum.

"When you came in on the train in 1920 there was a large billboard that said, "Hub of the Jewelry World, Attleboro, Massachusetts,"  the museum's Executive Director, Carleton Legg, told WBZ-TV.

These days the jewels are on display at the museum, housed in what used to be an old jewelry refinery from the 1800's. Legg says Attleboro's history of craftsmanship actually starts with its original settlers.

"It started with the Wampanoags. They used their environment, they crafted their living dwellings, they crafted their tools, their toys, everything," Legg said.

L.G. Balfour came to town in 1913, setting up shop in an old unused loft. Balfour made everything from class rings, World Series rings, even Super Bowl rings, including the one designed by New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath.

Sports fans will love Attleboro's most famous claim to fame as the makers of the original World Series trophy.

The original World Series trophy on display at the Attleboro Area Industrial Museum. CBS Boston

"Balfour said 'Hey you need a trophy. You don't have one designated as the World Series trophy.'" Legg said.

It was first given away in 1967, the year the Red Sox lost to Cardinals.

"It was 30 years' worth of trophies they made," Legg told WBZ.

There are also exhibits on Attleboro native Phil Kraczkowski, who was hired by Hasbro to sculpt the head of the original G.I. Joe action figure. And there's an antique 1800's Fire Queen that kids adore.

But the most unique thing about the museum are the mannequins.

"These are theatrical quality mannequins. They're very life-like when you walk in, you think there's a crowd in here," said Legg.

And while downtown Attleboro is no longer a jewelry manufacturing hub, Legg says the creativity has never left the city.

"The amount of creative and innovative people in Attleboro just astounds me," he told WBZ.

L.G. Balfour started a charitable trust before he died that still gives back to the community today in scholarships. It also helps non-profits like the Industrial Museum. 

For more information about the museum, visit their website.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.