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Author Topic:   American expat in Paris ...
akgdc

Posts: 289
Registered: Sep 2001

iconnumber posted 10-23-2005 07:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for akgdc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

This is an unusual piece that I found in France some months ago; my father and I were browsing in a dealer’s shop when we spotted it in the back of a vitrine. I assumed immediately, given its style, that it was French, but when we asked the dealer to look at it, he proclaimed confidently, “C’est sterling anglais.”

However, removing it from the case and inspecting the marks, I saw that it was not anglais at all, but, as you can see in the photos, American ... Gorham, to be precise.

I do not recall seeing this form of double saltcellar with pendant receptacles elsewhere in American silver. It’s a form common in French pieces of the second half of the 19th century, however. I would be grateful if anyone could shed light on its possible origins.

What I’m wondering specifically is whether this saltcellar was manufactured by Gorham for the French market, perhaps for sale at one of the world’s fairs held in Paris.

The Gorham marks are, I believe, correct for the 1860s (I’d appreciate it if anyone knows otherwise), which seems to accord well with the style. The piece is also marked in four different places with the oval “swan” mark for imported silver used in France post-1893. (This does not mean the saltcellar postdates that year, however, since the French commonly re-hallmarked older pieces when they returned to the market.) It measures 7 3/4 inches high. The cast female heads at the base of the handle (identical on both sides) are in the Renaissance taste, and somewhat reminiscent of Medallion decoration. The salt receptacles are gilt inside. The monogram is in the French style.

One thought I had was that this piece might have been created for sale at the Paris Exposition of 1867 ... but that’s just speculation at this point, unless one of this forum’s Gorham gurus knows more.



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hello

Posts: 200
Registered: Jun 2005

iconnumber posted 10-24-2005 08:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for hello     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's unlikely that this was sold at the expo of 1867 as gorham did not start officially marking sterling untill May 1 1868. They did participate in other competitions in paris, but Gorham was primarily a manufacturer and not a retailer, so it is possible that this was sold by a French retailer. The form definately does speak to the late 1860s and 1870's, and the mark is consistant with that used on smaller items by gorham into the 1890's. Get those photos resized so we can check out the rest of it!
Winston

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akgdc

Posts: 289
Registered: Sep 2001

iconnumber posted 10-24-2005 09:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for akgdc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sorry, I have re-sized the photos, so they should now appear. Thanks for the good point about the "sterling" mark. But if this is post-1868, shouldn't it have a date letter?

[This message has been edited by akgdc (edited 10-24-2005).]

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hello

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iconnumber posted 10-25-2005 05:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for hello     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Not necessarily. Gorham was a little eratic on deciding what was worth marking and what wasn't, for instance even napkin-rings sometimes carry a datemark, but not this. Definately a unique piece though, I have never seen one like it from gorham(in my limited experience smile

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Kayvee

Posts: 204
Registered: Oct 2004

iconnumber posted 10-25-2005 09:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kayvee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
By no means a Gorham guru or any kind of guru, but I seem to recall reading that Gorham and Tiffany both had retail outlets in Paris in the mid-19th C. Gorham on the rue Royale and Tiffany on rue Richelieu. Am away from my library now, but perhaps this info was in Venable? Sorry can't be more specific. If my recollection is accurate, then Gorham might have "bought in" locally made wares to sell in their Paris retail location in addition to their own products. In any case Gorham is often found on the French market, to be expected from such a large manufacturer, and is frequently confused with English silver as you experienced from your dealer.

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Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 10-25-2005 01:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
To my eye, this looks liike something I have seen a number of times in Gorham silverplate. The center medallion can be found on salts and table castors. I think also on napkin rings, large compotes and decanter stands. Once the die is made, it is no big deal to substitute sterling for white meta. I don't know if this helps matters any.

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akgdc

Posts: 289
Registered: Sep 2001

iconnumber posted 10-25-2005 08:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for akgdc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dale, I'd be interested if you have any photos to post of pieces with this motif.

Has anyone seen this form of double salt in American silverplate (or sterling), however? I haven't.

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hello

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iconnumber posted 10-25-2005 09:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for hello     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What style would this be considered? Grecian? Classical?

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Richard Kurtzman
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Posts: 759
Registered: Aug 2000

iconnumber posted 10-26-2005 01:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
akgdc, This is a very nice piece. Its form, double salt or salt and pepper combination, while not often seen, is not rare. When I get the chance I will post photos of some examples in silverplate from the 1870s. There also may have been glass inserts at one time.

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Dale

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iconnumber posted 10-26-2005 12:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sorry, I do not have any photos. But I agree with Richard, this type of salt is not uncommon in silverplate.

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Richard Kurtzman
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Registered: Aug 2000

iconnumber posted 10-26-2005 02:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is an example from the Meriden Britannia Catalog of 1879.

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hello

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iconnumber posted 10-27-2005 10:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for hello     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A simple search for "double silver salt" pulls up a few examples of such pieces, but none quite as nice as this.

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akgdc

Posts: 289
Registered: Sep 2001

iconnumber posted 10-27-2005 11:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for akgdc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for that interesting example, Richard. I didn't mean to suggest in my post above that double salts were rare in U.S. silver, but rather that this particular form, with the pendant receptacles, was more typical of France. Here is an example of a French-made piece from the late 19th century, to give a better idea what I mean:

As to the style, I wouldn't exactly characterize the Gorham salt as Grecian or classical, since to me, at least, the woman's hairstyle and ruffed collar are actually more evocative of the Renaissance or Baroque ... what do you think?

From the shape of the receptacles, I think it unlikely that there were ever glass liners.

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ahwt

Posts: 2173
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 10-28-2005 11:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree with you that glass inserts don't seem appropriate for this beautiful piece. I'm not sure that I would call it a double salt cellar, but that would be for others to decide. The image is striking and whatever style she is; she evokes a lovely mysterious feeling.

Gorham silver seems to always be a cut above others.

Sometime ago a story was told to me that the Gorham firm and just gotten a new stamping machine and Mr. Gorham asked a worker what he thought of it. The worker told Mr. Gorham that the machine was unsafe and that he did not want to use it. Mr. Gorham decided to prove to the worker that the machine was safe and in the process of demonstrating how to use the machine cut off one of his fingers. He apparently kept is composure and quietly told his workers to remove the machine until it could be made safe.

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