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Author Topic:   Awesome Aesthetic Silver Basket Recent Find
asheland

Posts: 861
Registered: Nov 2003

iconnumber posted 08-15-2017 10:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just got this piece last Saturday.
It's only marked "800" but from what I have found online, I believe it was made by Lazarus Posen.

It is entirely hand raised and all aspects are handmade. The work is simply amazing!

Why on earth would they only mark this with a standard mark and nothing else? And do the others here agree that this is Posen's work?



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Polly

Posts: 1849
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 08-16-2017 01:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Awesome is right! What a wonderful basket!

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asheland

Posts: 861
Registered: Nov 2003

iconnumber posted 08-16-2017 09:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Polly! I thought you'd like this. It looks a lot like the work of Gorham from that period. I'm happy to have found it.

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agleopar

Posts: 824
Registered: Jun 2004

iconnumber posted 08-16-2017 10:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for agleopar     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ashland, great find! I know you know but it is always a suprise to see beautiful things with no mark or the bare minimum like this basket. I admit to stamping sterling twice in 45 years on lovely circa 1870 vases that were headed to the melt pot. The logic was that at least the dealers would look at it.

My thoughts on this type of marking is that the firm making it was purely wholesale and the retail seller did not want the manufacturers name on it.

The unmarked pieces are the real mystery. A guess is that if you are making 12 or 24 of something it is possible to miss marking one of them. Marking silver is a bit of a dance in the making process. It has to be done at the right time to allow for setting the mark. Setting means the pushing back the silver where the steel punch compressed the silver, lead is sometimes used or just careful planishing but either need finishing after by polishing. Yes you can mark a finished piece but it is always an inferior result compared to marking earlier.

Lastly, a thought on our modern view of marking. Back in the day the smith was a mechanic and his name meant little. Today the smith is an "artist" and ego is part of the package. We might assume that they would have been upset not to have been named when the opposit might be true. Or at least there would have been little expectation to ever be named.

[This message has been edited by agleopar (edited 08-16-2017).]

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Polly

Posts: 1849
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 08-16-2017 11:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm sure you saw this in your searches, but Posen made tea wares in this pattern. There are at least two cream-and-sugar sets easily found online at the moment. I've long had them bookmarked and drooled over them, but they're a bit beyond my current reach. I also found a basket that looks like yours, which I'm sure you saw.

My understanding was that sometimes makers didn't mark things because the retailers wanted to use their own marks.

You probably discovered this yourself too, but Posen was Lazarus Posen Witwe--"Lazarus Posen's Widow"--a firm founded in 1869 by Brendina Posen, a silversmith's widow. The family was Jewish, and "the firm became the largest supplier of Judaica in the late 19th century...The exact date of the company’s closure is not known, but it seems certain that the wealthy Jewish-owned firm was a victim of the terrors of the Nazi regime." I'm quoting from this thread: Posen Silberwaaren, Germany

Clearly I need some Posen Witwe silver to add to my tiny-but-growing collection of silver by women silversmiths or female-headed firms!

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Polly

Posts: 1849
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 08-16-2017 11:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Someone wrote a dissertation on the firm, which you can read at the Smithsonian Library in DC:
The silver company Lazarus Posen, Witwe : 1869 - 1938 Frankfurt am Main / by Jenny Michael

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asheland

Posts: 861
Registered: Nov 2003

iconnumber posted 08-16-2017 01:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks agleopar and Polly for the replies!

I read most of what you posted and saw the pieces you mentioned, Polly. I find it sad that the firm ended in such a way. frown

Whoever ultimately made this piece was a VERY accomplished silversmith I'll say. It's all hand raised and wonderfully made. It's so interesting to just look at and study, the design is impeccable!

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Polly

Posts: 1849
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 02-11-2019 09:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ashlande, what happened to your photos? My computer says they were removed.

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11203
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 02-11-2019 10:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Polly,

Thanks for pointing out the missing images.

Third party hosted images often disappear .....
This is why we ask everyone to use the SSF photo gallery.

I went looking ... found and restored the images.

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asheland

Posts: 861
Registered: Nov 2003

iconnumber posted 02-11-2019 11:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm not sure what happened. Thank you Scott for fixing it! smile

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11203
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 02-11-2019 11:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I looked at few of your other older posts ...
I've restored a few more images... more when time permits... please start using the SSF Photo Gallery...its less work for all.

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Polly

Posts: 1849
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 02-11-2019 10:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, Scott!

What a wonderful basket, TJ. I was looking at it again because I have a creamer-and-sugar demitasse set in a related bark-and-twig pattern on the way, for my collection of silver by women (and firms founded/run by women). I find the history of this company so sad and moving. It must have been hard enough for Frau Posen founding the business as a young widow--her husband was 30 years older, and she was 32 when he died, in her mid-30s when she started her company. As Jews, they weren't allowed to join the guilds and must have faced a lot of anti-Semitism. But she still managed to build a successful company that made exquisite objects, and passed it on to her son and grandsons. And then in 1938 it was destroyed, and the whole family was murdered (along with millions of others).

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asheland

Posts: 861
Registered: Nov 2003

iconnumber posted 02-12-2019 09:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No problem, Scott! smile

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asheland

Posts: 861
Registered: Nov 2003

iconnumber posted 02-12-2019 09:57 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I know, Polly. It's a sad story indeed, I remember reading all of that. frown

They made wonderful items and it's great that their work lives on and is admired!

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Polly

Posts: 1849
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 02-12-2019 02:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
TJ, I wonder: what are the dimensions of your basket, and is it round or oval? And weight? (Only if you have it easily accessible, not if you have it packed away somewhere hard to reach.)

Is it a fruit bowl, do you think?

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asheland

Posts: 861
Registered: Nov 2003

iconnumber posted 02-13-2019 10:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hey Polly! smile

This is one of the few items that I have sold since the thread, I usually keep this kind of stuff, but the lack of a Maker's mark bothered me after a while so a friend of mine now owns the piece.

I can tell you relatively accurately from memory that it about 8" by 5" oval, the top of the handle is about 6 or 7 inches high.

With certainty I can tell you it is completely hand made, raised, etc. A lot of detailed work went into this piece and I'm relatively certain it's made by Posen.

An interesting side note, is that I had it checked by XRF and a Sigma Precious Metals Verifier and both confirmed a purity of, get this: 98% pure! It makes a little sense as it's raised from sheet (like Gorham Martele)

I had it in the collection for a while, but the standard mark alone and no other marks irritated me and a close friend showed interest so I passed it along. smile

I can live with a maker's mark that I cannot locate, but no mark at all, I can't stand that. frown

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asheland

Posts: 861
Registered: Nov 2003

iconnumber posted 02-13-2019 10:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And weight, it was around 15-16 troy ozs.

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Polly

Posts: 1849
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 02-13-2019 10:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you, TJ.

How interesting about the purity of the metal!

It's also interesting how different things bother different collectors. I don't mind unmarked pieces at all, especially if I can figure out who made them. Certain kinds of damage and repairs bother me a lot, though.

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asheland

Posts: 861
Registered: Nov 2003

iconnumber posted 02-14-2019 11:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree about damage and repairs. A small dent or scratch I can live with, a split or repair, no way! smile

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Polly

Posts: 1849
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 02-15-2019 03:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For me it's not as simple as no damage or repairs. I don't actually object to well-done repairs, especially old ones or charming ones (like objects with patches carefully cut in pretty shapes). But I can't stand machine buffing or monogram removals.

My Posen demitasse cream and sugar arrived last night. It was so black with tarnish that it was hard to imagine there was even silver underneath. I polished it for a couple of hours, and now it's just very tarnished. It was clearly once gilded, but I don't know how much of the gilding will be left after I get rid of the tarnish. It needs a few more hours of work, but here's a preview:

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Paul Lemieux

Posts: 1757
Registered: Apr 2000

iconnumber posted 02-15-2019 08:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's way cool and the texture is, as you mentioned, very much like some of Gorham's 1880s work.

See my old post Gorham Trompe l'Oeil Silver with items showing a very similar texture. I would be curious from any silversmiths about how this effect is achieved. Is it some sort of reticulation?

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Polly

Posts: 1849
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 02-15-2019 08:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In this case, I think the pieces were raised, and then the texture was applied with stamps--maybe several different ones--and then maybe there were some additional engraving or planishing steps. I'll try to take a very close photo of the surface in daylight. There's a similar set on one of the usual sites where you can see the stamps pretty clearly: there are little dots and also a very distinctive circular stamp with sort of arms coming out of it. Then the horizontal strokes that make the bark look like birch or beech (if I'm getting my trees right) might have been made with a planishing tool.

Rob, am I right?

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