Beautiful Victorian-Style Sterling Silver Centerpiece Bowl By Gorham
About the Item
- Creator:Gorham Manufacturing Company (Maker)
- Dimensions:Height: 2.75 in (6.99 cm)Diameter: 11 in (27.94 cm)
- Style:Victorian (In the Style Of)
- Materials and Techniques:
- Place of Origin:
- Date of Manufacture:1905
- Seller Location:New York, NY
- Reference Number:1stDibs: LU914734146512
Gorham Manufacturing Company
When silversmiths Jabez Gorham and Henry Webster started making coin silver teaspoons and jewelry out of a small workshop in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1831, the pair likely had no idea that their modest operation would one day become the largest silver manufacturer in the world.
While some name changes and personnel shifts preceded the foundry officially being established as Gorham Manufacturing Company decades later, growth of the business between its early days and the mid–19th century can largely be attributed to the work of Jabez’s son John, who assumed control of Gorham in the 1840s.
John Gorham introduced steam power at the manufactory. He entered into a partnership with Michael Gibney, the first American silversmith to register a design patent for a flatware pattern. Gorham wanted to expand the business, seeking to produce forks and spoons adorned with decorative flourishes adapted from British patterns. The company hammered out the silver flatware, which it sent to Gibney in New York to apply decorative patterns before returning to Gorham. Consequently, Gorham found Gibney’s work unsatisfactory, and he purchased his own rolling press to do the work himself.
The partnership between John and Michael soured but the company thrived. Sales grew to more than $20,000 per year, and the staff of silversmiths expanded. To keep up with demand, Gorham had to retire its horse-powered rolling press and import a steam-powered drop press from England — the first used in the United States. Designs created at Gorham drew on natural-world motifs as well as artistic traditions from all over the world — alongside its tableware, the company would soon be producing cups and pitchers adorned with polar bears and forest creatures, while tea services and other serving pieces were crafted in a range of styles that included Art Nouveau, Egyptian Revival and Rococo.
Around 1860, Gorham delved into bronze casting. When it opened a division dedicated to bronze work, Gorham collaborated with sculptors such as Daniel Chester French, Anna Hyatt Huntington and Alexander P. Proctor.
By the 1920s, Gorham had employed thousands of workers and had partnered with Danish modernist silversmith Erik Magnussen. However, the Great Depression ground production to a halt. The company was sold to Textron, Inc. in the late 1960s and it changed hands several times before it sold to Department 56 in 2005.
Today, the work of Gorham Manufacturing Company continues to be exhibited in galleries and museums. The RISD Museum in Providence houses a collection of nearly 5,000 works.
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