Saturday, March 17, 2012

Antique Silver • American Style

The beautiful Chantilly pattern by Gorham Mfg. Co., first issued in 1895
Typical mid-20th century Gorham hallmark
America was the world leader in fine silver production from 1850 to 1950, in no small part due to Gorham silver. Gorham Manufacturing Company was founded by Jabez Gorham of Providence, Rhode Island, in 1831. The business was expanded by his son John Gorham in later years. Gorham employed the best of French and English silver techniques of the time, hired outstanding designers from America and abroad, and revolutionized the silver manufacturing process. More importantly, Gorham was active in bringing to market new patterns on a regular basis, unlike the French and English who offered a small selection of patterns with little new introductions. 

In 1886 a commentator wrote in the London Magazine of Art:
If we go to one of the first London silversmiths and ask for spoons and forks, we are met at once with the smiling query. "Yes, Sir; fiddle or old English?" Fiddle or old English! If we decline both those chaste designs we are assured that there is still a large selection of patterns remaining. The "Lily", the "Beaded", "King's Pattern", and "Queen's Pattern." There perforce, our choice must end....Mark the difference, in this one article, between the supine conservatism of the English manufacturers and the alertness and constant progress of the American maker. For instance [Gorham] would not be satisfied unless it produced every year or two new patterns, nearly all of which are beautiful, and of which they will produce a complete service of all articles for table use from a salt-spoon to a soup ladle.
In 1893 a French observer was surprised by America's "remarkable fertility in the variety of its patterns for table services." Of the flatware patterns designed by F. A. Heller (1839–1904) for Gorham he wrote "we have no idea of the richness of ornamentation of these services, and of the amount of talent expended by him in the engraving of the dies which he has made on the other side of the Atlantic."
Gorham ad from 1896
Over the past 180 years, Gorham has made some of the most popular dinner service patterns. According to Replacements Ltd., Gorham has six of the top twenty patterns on their most requested list: Chantilly (first produced in 1895), Fairfax (1900), Strasbourg (1897), Etruscan (1913), Buttercup (1899) and Rondo (1951).

We have a fine selection of estate silver at Vintages, with quite a few Gorham pieces available. One gorgeous offering is this tea set made back in 1907.
Gorham sterling silver tea set available from Vintages ($2250.00 for the set)
Check out our silver items on our Trocadero antique sales site, or stop in the shop to view our entire collection.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...