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Author Topic:   Trinac Silversmiths
Ulysses Dietz
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posted 09-14-2005 10:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm afraid I have not got pictures of this. In 1998 The Museum was given a coffee and tea set, purchased by the donor in New York City in 1946 from the Georg Jensen shop. It is all marked "Georg Jensen Inc. USA" which is the mark for American-made things sold by Jensen during World War II.

The donor told me that it was made by Trinac, which is what her uncle told her. One of the pieces in the set has a simple mark of an inverted triangle with a capital T in it. No mark is listed in Rainwater, but the firm is listed in Brooklyn as Trinac Metalcrafts.

It's a very stylish, sleek set, NOT a Jensen copy such as DeMatteo made or a Jensenesque variant such at LaPaglia made. More Puiforcat with a Danish accent.

So, anyone know anything about Trinac?

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doc

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posted 09-14-2005 10:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for doc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The name rang a bell with me, and then I remembered that I have seen the name Trinac in connection with pewter pieces; Trinac pewter pieces are also marked with a shield containing ATC, with the T being larger. Unfortunately, I don't know any more about it than that, but it may give you another avenue to explore.

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Patrick Vyvyan

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Registered: May 2003

posted 09-14-2005 11:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Patrick Vyvyan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Searching on the internet, it seems that Trinac produced pewter holloware. The mark is "aTc" in a shield, and one of their lines was "King's Quality Pewter"

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Dale

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Registered: Nov 2002

posted 09-14-2005 11:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
During World War II and the Korean War, metals were rationed or totally devoted to the war effort. Sterling was apparently the only one that was readily available for civilian use. So, during this time, table ware makers produced all sorts of things in sterling. Pewter must have had a military use; so it seems that Trinac did make something up in sterling. It would be interesting to see if this is a pattern they also made in pewter. Even some the aluminium makers may have been reduced to producing in sterling. Snarf.

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Kayvee

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posted 09-15-2005 02:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kayvee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"Sterling was apparently the only one that was readily available for civilian use."

I am surprised by your statement and wonder what exactly you meant. Did you mean that silver was proportionately more available than pewter during WWII? To my knowledge silver was strictly rationed in North America during the war. Civilian access to silver was difficult. One of the military uses of silver was for tubing used in the new technology of radar. In a published interview (Silver Magazine, Nov/Dec 1998) the late silversmith Allan Adler recounts several amusing anecdotes about how he obtained silver during this time of rationing. Even with his resourcefulness he was unable to satisfy client demand for finished silver goods. What saved many silver manufacturers from business failure was their ability to turn their metal working capacity to the war effort. In occupied Western Europe this was not possible, and scores of silver manufacturers closed their doors permanently. In these Forums several members have stated that silver goods produced in the U.S. immediately after the war were of relatively lower quality, presumably because of the need to fulfill pent-up client demand rapidly and because getting silver manufacturers up and running again very quickly had an impact on quality.
I would be interested in having more information about the availability of silver during this period.

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Ulysses Dietz
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posted 09-17-2005 04:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Silver might have had some significant military value, but not as much as base metals (I won't dare try to differentiate among them). I do know that costume jewelry manufacturers were FORCED to switch to sterling for their jewelry from 1943 through about '48, because they could not use their basic white metal. Weird, huh? You can't compare what happened in Europe, because we were not impacted by the war in the same way. It was the after-war prosperity that killed the silver industry.

Personally, I would challenge the "quality" downgrade of post-1945 silver. You'd have to show it to me to prove it. There may have been a downward slide in overall design quality (with many exceptions), but I think this smacks of the "everything Victorian was ugly and badly made" prejudice of the 1920s and 30s, when Colonial was God.

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Dale

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posted 09-18-2005 12:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Over the years, I have known quite a few jewelers who were in business during the war. To a man they told me how the silverplate market had been done in by the war time restrictions. They had been in the very unhappy position of dealing with brides who began their silverplate set, got into it and suddenly could not get any more. Which meant things came back to them, and very unhappy people stalked out.

Also, during WW2 silverplate patterns began appearing as sterling. Oneida did this with Lady Hamilton and King Cedric. (Of course they later went on and produced Lady Hamilton in stainless. So at one time they had the same pattern under different names made in all three.) I have seen pieces of International's major silverplate patterns that were made in sterling, always with the explanation that this was during the war.

On the post war decline in quality. I have had fresh in the wrapper pieces from this period that were defective. Numerous customers have made a point of only wanting the prewar things, giving the decline as a reason. I do know that IS's major postwar silverplate patterns of Remembrance, Daffodil and Flair are prone to endless problems that do not occur with the much older or much newer patterns. Things like: off kilter stamping, wobbly solder joints, mismatched parts, bubbles in the silver, knives that are not in line, widely varied lengths of pieces, all these occur in the post war production. This does seem to be a problem with all the silverplate from the 1945 to 1955 era. And it appears to my eye to more an issue with IS, Reed & Barton and Gorham plated wares than with Oneida.

Plated flatware is much easier to date than sterling as plate patterns are usually made for very limited periods of time. (At the end of a pattern life, there was a special order period, when jewelers and table top dealers could buy up the pieces they would need for their open stock customers.) So, when I say I see a decline in quality, I am speaking of something I can fairly clearly date to these years.

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Dale

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posted 09-18-2005 12:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One curious thing that happens with the postwar patterns, and no others, is that they will not take a luster. I have had the 3 IS ones as well as Oneida's Morning Star, South Seas and Twilight that simply could not be polished. Nothing would bring them up. In addition it seemed as if they had a gritty finish. Which usually points to fluctuating tempertures in the vat. But again this is a problem with the post war silverplate.

And if the companies were slipping up on their plated wares, there is no particular reason to believe they weren't doing it on their sterling. The difference being that sterling flatware is so much harder to tie to time periods.

The plated hollow pieces in these patterns are almost always a mess. Some can not be replated at all. Some have feet and finials and handles that are askew. Others have decidedly off center stampings.

So, Ulysses, I feel that the decline in postwar silver is very readily observed.

[This message has been edited by Dale (edited 09-18-2005).]

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Ulysses Dietz
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posted 09-18-2005 10:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm convinced. Of course, I also realized from your answers that (and I am not sure how to say this delicately) the silver in which you witness the decline most apparently is the silver that we curators almost never deal with or look at. We are caught up in our ivory tower of Tiffany and Jensen, and forget about the silver that most people shopped for and handled --the bulk of the silver made in this country. It does make sense, and now I understand where you see the decline. I can also see, for the first time quite vividly, how wartime restrictions on base metal must have crushed the silver-plate manufacturers.

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Dale

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posted 09-18-2005 12:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very well put Ulysses. I am much more familiar with the ordinary silver that most people had than, I suspect, many of the posters here. I have handled literally tens of thousands of pieces of this. Ordinary silver experienced IMHO a drastic decline in quality after 1945. With the silverplate buying community turned off to silver, stainless could emerge as an alternative. Which seems to have meant that rather than moving up into sterling, people went into stainless. For most Americans I suspect that the first name in silver is not Tiffany or Jensen but Betty Crocker.

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Dale

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posted 09-18-2005 12:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The decline was particularly severe at the point where people entered the silver market. When people bought a set of plate that had problems, they most likely never ventured further. Bad silverplate meant no interest in sterling. Which has ricocheted through the silver market to this day.

The silverplate makers had different fates. Oneida which is the one company that held to quality standards during this period is still going strong. IS, which appears to be a Bschool text on bad management, is gone. Wallace, R & B, and Gorham never made much plate anyway after 1921. But this is something that does still give problems to the makers.

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Ulysses Dietz
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posted 09-18-2005 04:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have a full set of Oneida Community plated flatware from 1946 (wedding silver, the only the family ever owned), that is handsome and well made. I remember going through the IS factory in Meriden, CT, in the 1970s when I was an undergrad, and being appalled at what they were producing.

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middletom

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posted 09-18-2005 07:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for middletom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The talk about WWII and silver reminded me of a story that I read several years ago about the construction of a large, important building, which I think had to do with the Manhattan Project, during WWII. The wiring for it was of great extent and the copper necessary was not available, so a large quantity of silver was taken from Fort Knox, and transformed by a wire producing company into the wiring needed for the building in question. Once the war was over, the wiring was replaced with copper wire, and the silver wire was recovered with the loss of no more than an ounce. I do recall that it was an extraordinary building for which they went to such an effort.

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