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Author Topic:   Gorham Fabulous FLORENCE Pattern
Brent

Posts: 1496
Registered: May 99

posted 10-10-2002 12:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Gorham was responsible for some very unusual and innovative flatware patterns, many of which are rarely seen on the market. One of these is Florence, introduced in 1901. The pattern is styled after ancient Roman spoons, though the scroll decoration is not found on the Roman prototype.

Sam Hough presented the pattern in an article in Silver magazine some years ago (Jan/Feb 1997). According to the Gorham Archives, the pattern was produced in only five place pieces: Tablespoon, Dessert Spoon, Teaspoon, Table Fork, and Dessert Fork. The piece pictured is the dessert spoon, with the interesting finial of a man wearing a lion-skin head-dress. Each of the five pieces has a different head finial and a different scroll pattern. All of the pieces of this set are gilded.

As Sam Hough noted, it is odd for Gorham to have produced such a pattern when they did (1901). Production of flatware with 3-D figures like this seems to have peaked in the 1870's; by 1901 most manufacturers were moving towards Art Nouveau floral designs and draped nudes. Mr. Hough also noted that Gorham never promoted the pattern and that it never appears in any catalogs. The set that Mr. Hough profiled, of which this is an example, may have been one of only a handful produced.

I must disagree with Mr. Hough, though, on the "awkwardness" of the pattern to hold and use. I find it rather easy to use in the conventional fashion.

It is odd that Florence appears in Carpenter's book, while many other Gorham patterns do not. Indeed, Florence is probably rarer than many of the patterns that were left out!

Enjoy!

Brent

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Marc

Posts: 414
Registered: Jun 2002

posted 10-13-2002 07:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Marc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi there Brent,

This is a neat pattern. I did an appraisal last year that included a set of 12 service plates, 10 3/4" in diameter, in the "Florenz" pattern. They had the Gorham date marks for 1924, weighed 18+ oz. each, and had a gothic design of devils heads, birds and angels. If the pattern name had not been stamped on the back, I would never had known what the pattern was. I appraised them at $2000. each replacement value.

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Brent

Posts: 1496
Registered: May 99

posted 10-14-2002 12:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi again,

It is interesting that you bring up "Florenz". According to a collector I know, Florenz is the holloware made to accompany the FLORENTINE flatware pattern, which was also introduced by Gorham in 1901. It seems more than coincidence to me that FLORENCE and FLORENTINE, both with a similar feel, were introduced the same year. Perhaps FLORENCE proved so unwieldy that they quickly replaced it with the more conventional FLORENTINE, which I find easily confused with OLD BARONIAL. Then again, perhaps FLORENCE was a special order variation.

Florenz holloware IS pretty magnificent; the candlesticks are particularly good. I've never even seen service plates!

Brent

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Paul Lemieux

Posts: 1694
Registered: Apr 2000

posted 10-15-2002 09:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Brent, your spoon reminded me of a pair of salt spoons I have. Though not in the Florence pattern, they are from the same time period and have an unusual figural finial.

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Brent

Posts: 1496
Registered: May 99

posted 10-17-2002 09:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Paul,

Great items; thanks for sharing them. Maybe there was a "bust" enthusiast in the design department at Gorham around 1901.

I'd love to know who was in charge of the H series at Gorham; it seems almost like a novelty line, and the designers were challenged to come up with odd and inventive designs.

Brent

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 9147
Registered: Apr 93

posted 10-17-2002 11:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very interesting salt spoons.

Over the years I have heard many a dealer refer to H numbers or H numbers in a box as an indicator of Gorham special or custom order. One dealer speculated that the H stood for house or in house.

It appears that on Paul's salt spoon the H 1 8 5 was hand struck a letter/number at a time. Notice that the 8 is upside down. What do you think novelty line, Custom order, experimental or what?

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Paul Lemieux

Posts: 1694
Registered: Apr 2000

posted 10-17-2002 02:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm not sure if H numbers refer to special orders. There are some pieces I have seen many examples of, suggesting mass production, at least of some of the H pieces. For example, on eBay alone there have been numerous examples of a series of floral H-series teaspoons designated H4xx. Here is H411. Note in this case, the marks are raised.

I have seen a range of design quality in the H series--going from pedestrian, undecorated salt spoons, to the extravagant Martele-like servers pictured in the recent NOMA book on Martele.

So perhaps H was a general series comprising many of their non-line patterns produced around this time.

I'm pretty sure a box around numbers on a Gorham piece indicates a special/custom order.

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