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tline3open  Stavre and Gladys Panis Celebration

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Author Topic:   Stavre and Gladys Panis Celebration

Posts: 217
Registered: Aug 2005

iconnumber posted 10-18-2010 04:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chicagosilver     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Stavre Gregor Panis (1889-1974), and his wife Gladys Hamilton Panis (1900-2001), were silversmiths and jewelers based in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Together, they created a large body of fine work. Their silver jewelry used intricately pierced and chased geometric or nature-based details, and has a distinctly recognizable look and feel.

As is the case with many other studio jewelers, there isn't much written about their lives. The best record is by a photojournalist and writer named Kathy Sharp Frisbee that appeared in Cape Cod Life. Frisbee interviewed Gladys when she was 95 and still working daily in her studio. The details below are from her excellent account.

Stavre Gregor Panis came from a family of silversmiths, and emigrated to America from Dadha, Albania in 1905. Frisbee reports that:

"He began crafting silver in Boston in 1909, using the cast or mold method that was his family's traditional style. He later learned and fully adopted the pierced handcrafting style. Stavre became a US citizen in 1911. When World War I began, he served in France in 1918 with the 71st Field Artillery and then returned to Boston, where he resumed his silvercrafting business."

Gladys, whose family lived in Swanville, Maine, attended the Massachusetts Normal Art School (now the Massachusetts College of Art). While at school she met classmate Stavre Panis, and the two were married in 1927. Frisbee discussed how the two worked together:

"Admitting he had no drawing or designing ability, Stavre once asked Gladys to design some monogrammed items for him. She agreed to try, unwittingly defining their future creative work together. Success with monograms led to logos and a range of jewelry and decorative items. Their signature pieces were ornate with flower and vine detail, and cast in silver, brass, gold, and copper mediums. 'Panis pins' were their most renowned creations. Eventually, Gladys was creating the designs, producing her own silver items, working closely with Stavre on finishwork for his projects, and serving as shop operations and business manager."

"During Gladys and Stavre's years in Boston, they were invited annually to feature their handcrafted artistry in the showroom of The Society of Arts and Crafts, a prestigious art guild today located on Newbury Street. It was the only public place they chose to display their work throughout their career together."

They eventually moved to Cape Cod in 1932. According to Frisbee:

"Shortly after their marriage in 1927, Gladys and Stavre were invited to Falmouth by Mrs. Wilfred Wheeler of Hatchville, who had received one of their pins which her son had commissioned as a birthday gift. Stavre was familiar with the area. As for Gladys, the Cape was new, yet she sensed then what was confirmed to her later: 'I always felt more inspired here than elsewhere ... ocean as well as gardening themes gave me the most pleasure.'"

In 1938 they bought a small one-bedroom cottage with a small second cottage on the property. Ten years later they moved their shop to the small cottage. Stavre fell and broke his hip in 1969, and died of complications several years later. Gladys then took over the studio operation.

Eventually, Gladys found an apprentice, Mike O'Donnell, who today carries on the Panis tradition. From Frisbee's account:

"In 1991, Gladys met Mike O'Donnell, who was hired to paint her house. Licensed as a master plumber, this jack-of-all-trades became fascinated with Gladys' design and silversmithing work. As they came to know each other over the ensuing months, O'Donnell asked her if he could give silversmithing a try, and she began to instruct him."

Gladys Panis and Mike O'Donnell
photos courtesy of Kathy Sharp Frisbee

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iconnumber posted 10-18-2010 04:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chicagosilver     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Gladys claimed that Mike rescued her business, and said "[Mike's] work is just as good as mine." From Frisbee:

"Like Stavre, Mike cuts, drills, and chases the design pattern Gladys creates. One difference is that he attaches her drawn pattern to the silver before cutting, where Stavre would cut from patterns Gladys drew onto the silver for him. Another difference is in style lines. Stavre tended to finesse Gladys' patterns into straight lines, while Mike's style is more true to the pattern and as elegant in line and rich in detail. They work strictly with U.S. quality sterling silver, which Gladys has purchased for decades from the renowned Handy and Harmon of New York."

Panis work was sold through a small number of high-end shops (including one at the posh Ritz-Carlton in Boston), and museums. She also accepted commissions including one that, according to Frisbee:

"came at the request of officials at the Marine Biological Laboratories in Woods Hole who asked her to design silver candlesticks to be given to the Emperor of Japan during his visit in 1976. In tribute to the Emperor's lifelong interest and studies in marine science, she crafted a sea motif on the candlestick bases that featured starfish, horseshoe crabs, scallops, sea gulls, sailfish, and sailboats interwoven with seaweed. For the Empress of Japan, she designed a pin featuring a sea slug (a creature on which the Emperor focused his studies) wreathed with sea lettuce."

Panis pieces are signed with an SGP inside a curved triangle. We've seen work by Gladys with an additional stamped "G" beside the triangle. Frisbee notes that Mike's work has an "M" beside the triangle.

Apart from jewelry, Panis output also included bowls (some with enamel interiors), candlesticks, spoons, buckles, tongs, napkin rings, letter openers, bookmarks, and lovely tea strainers, mostly made of silver.

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iconnumber posted 10-18-2010 04:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chicagosilver     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Vintage Panis jewelry appears on the market with some regularity. According to Frisbee, Gladys cataloged over 3,000 different designs. Most are pins or cuffs with geometric, nautical, or nature-inspired elements.

Somewhat rarer are items such as necklaces, rings, and link bracelets:

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iconnumber posted 10-18-2010 04:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for chicagosilver     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Still more unusual are objects with stones:

or items such as this small winged insect, with recessed oxidized areas:

The Falmouth Historical Society, Woods Hole Historical Society and Museum, and a community-based organization called Neighborhood Falmouth are sponsoring a Panis Celebration from 1 to 4 PM on Saturday November 6, 2010, at the Congregational Church, Falmouth Village Green, Massachusetts. The event will showcase Panis items and include a scholarly presentation on the lives and work of Stavre and Gladys.

For more information on Panis, contact Mike O'Donnell at PO Box 505, Falmouth, MA., 02541, or Kathy Sharp Frisbee at And thanks very much to Kathy for furnishing a copy of her terrific article.

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Scott Martin
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iconnumber posted 11-14-2010 08:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
see also:Stavre Gregor Panis

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