SMP Logo
SM Publications
Silver Salon Forums - The premier site for discussing Silver.
SMP | Silver Salon Forums | SSF - Guidelines | SSF - FAQ | Silver Sales

The Silver Salon Forums
Since 1993
Over 11,793 threads & 64,769 posts !!
American Sterling Silver Forum
How to Post Photos REGISTER (click here)

customtitle open  SMP Silver Salon Forums
tlineopen  American Sterling Silver
tline3open  Special Hand Work

Post New Topic  Post A Reply
profile | register | preferences | faq | search

ForumFriend SSFFriend: Email This Page to Someone! next newest topic | next oldest topic
Author Topic:   Special Hand Work
Ulysses Dietz
Moderator

Posts: 1265
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 06-10-2005 03:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
OK, guys, it's Friday and I'm bored--so I'm posting images to see what I can learn.

Tiffany & Co "Special Hand Work." Comments, criticism, information?

IP: Logged

FredZ

Posts: 1069
Registered: Jun 99

iconnumber posted 06-10-2005 04:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FredZ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From what I recall. The "Special Hand Work" by Tiffany was produced to compete with Gorham's Martele. I have never had the oportunity to see this work and suspect it is heavy gauge silver. Thanks for the image.

Fred

IP: Logged

Ulysses Dietz
Moderator

Posts: 1265
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 06-12-2005 06:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The competition with Gorham's martele line makes sense: except that Tiffany's "special hand work" never seems to have any hint of art nouveau, but is resolutely "arts and crafts." When we purchased this coffee service, which dates to ca. 1920, I was analyzing the style, and realized that it owes more to German modernist forms of the exact same period...and yet there's a nice "colonial" feel to it that would have appealed to Tiffany's unadventurous clientele. Tiffany art nouveau is extremely rare. I'd love to see more of the "special hand work" silver to see who their target client was.

IP: Logged

William Hood

Posts: 271
Registered: Apr 2000

iconnumber posted 06-12-2005 06:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for William Hood     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I know little about "Special Hand Work" except that this mark is found on certain Tiffany hollowware dating from the early 20th C. I will see if the Tiffany Archives will give me any information.

IP: Logged

Richard Kurtzman
Moderator

Posts: 759
Registered: Aug 2000

iconnumber posted 06-12-2005 11:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ulysses, Your exact set is pictured in Ark Antiques' 1999 #1 Catalog. In the description it's dated circa 1925.

In the blurb that follows the description it says, "Tiffany & Co....decided early in the second decade of the century to design and make a special line of silver in order to compete with the handwrought wares of the Kalo Shop and Lebolt & Co. of Chicago, as well as those of the great Boston silversmiths, including Arthur J. Stone. These craft shops and craft artisans had achieved considerable notoriety, as well as the highest level of popularity, and were being sold through various outlets in New York City.

Tiffany's designs were quite simple, as were those of its competitors, in keeping with an important tenet of the Arts & Crafts movement. What distinguished the Tiffany line, among other things, was the extra heavy gauge silver the firm used. The surfaces of the pieces reveal a lightly hammered finish, somewhat typical of the wares from Chicago. Another feature frequently seen in the Tiffany pieces is geometric paneling. In this instance the vessels are 12 sided. We have seen other pieces that are 6, 8, or 10 sided.

Tiffany considered this to be a prestige line and proudly stamped each piece with the words SPECIAL HAND WORK. Each piece of the service offered here is so marked. Although production of the line was limited, we have been fortunate to be able to offer a number of fine examples through these catalogs. This service is one of the most outstanding examples of this work that we've seen."

IP: Logged

Ulysses Dietz
Moderator

Posts: 1265
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 06-13-2005 07:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yeah, I knew about that ad, and copied it for my files--although we acquired the set at yet another remove from that dealer, oddly enough. I am still fascinated by the concept that Tiffany felt it needed to compete with the arts and crafts shops (Kalo, Gebelein, etc.); but then the decision may have come from within (i.e. a smith in the Newark factory saying "we can do that--so why don't we do that?". Fact is, the craft silversmiths often used machine processes (such as spinning) to speed up the process; so why couldn't Tiffany call on its huge force of skill artisans? I wonder how much of this they made, and who designed it.

IP: Logged

IJP

Posts: 326
Registered: Oct 2004

iconnumber posted 06-13-2005 06:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for IJP     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Woah, Mr. Dietz, when you say "Tiffany's unadventurous clientele" I certainly hope that's not a generalization! I consider Tiffany's designs, most especially during the latter decades of the 19th century, to be among the most innovative ever created! Of course, their eminence in the design world has somewhat diminished since then...

IP: Logged

Ulysses Dietz
Moderator

Posts: 1265
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 06-14-2005 07:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm afraid I was generalizing;of course Tiffany made many wonderful things; but their clientele was still pretty unadventurous. Unadventurous doesn't imply bad taste, you know. Tiffany knew its clientele very well and the carriage trade was (and is) by and large conservative in taste. Tiffany designed glorious things in the 1870s and 80s, but the best things (and what you see in museums and in great private collections) comprises only a small part of their output. "Japanese" style silver was one of their great triumphs, and only appealed to their most sophisticated customers.

IP: Logged

IJP

Posts: 326
Registered: Oct 2004

iconnumber posted 06-15-2005 12:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for IJP     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mr. Dietz:

Thanks for the clarification. I can see your point somewhat. In my memory, what stands out and comes immediately to mind are the more spectacular and innovative of the Tiffany designs from the 1870's and 80's; The Kings/Saratoga pattern which took an old idea and made it refreshingly new, and in such a way as to make it somehow much more novel than most any other pattern in history; Lap Over Edge, with its infinite variations of hammered, engraved, applied, and acid-etched work; Moore's fascination with niello, enamel, and various alloying techniques borrowed from the East; Osborne's rather ingenious, if simplistic, use of the charming spiral device, as well as the pearl-beading motif encouraged by Moore. In the particular era in question, Tiffany & Co. were truly leaders, in my humble opinion, of decorative arts design. The numerous awards won by the firm, both domestic and abroad, are a positive testament to that. Of course, this is only idle chatter, and I respect your opinion very much.

IP: Logged

Ulysses Dietz
Moderator

Posts: 1265
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 06-16-2005 12:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
See the thread above (Japanesque teapot, newly acquired) to see my own committment to Tiffany's greatest silver in my own institutional collecting. But I'd also point out the HUGE Judge Gary (as in Gary, Indiana) gold dinner service, which is being (or has been) sold for the second time in a decade. Perhaps the most boring assemblage of gold in American history...but maybe that's gold. In any case, Tiffany's client was nothing if not unadventurous, aesthetically. I'd love to know what the most popular flatware pattern by Tiffany has been over the past 100 years. I'll bet it's a boring one, or at least an adaptive version of a classic one, like English King.

IP: Logged

IJP

Posts: 326
Registered: Oct 2004

iconnumber posted 06-16-2005 06:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for IJP     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You may be right, Mr. Dietz, to suggest that the most popular items by Tiffany & Co. over the years have probably been the boring ones. The fact is, most people are boring, and have boring taste. But I think the exciting items from 1870s and the few following decades more than make up for that.

Anyway, I think I've decided that it's not so much Tiffany & Co. that I like, but rather Tiffany & Co. under the design leadership of Edward Moore.

IP: Logged

Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 06-16-2005 10:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In the antique trade 'boring silver' is frequently refered to as 'mother of the bride' or 'beige'. The idea being that it is chosen as something that will always go with whatever comes into one's life. That the silver will look great with the wall to wall carpet. It denotes a safe, don't rock the boat choice. Which looking at the fortunes of the mid level and plated 50's swoopy patterns is not such a bad idea for the average person. A lot of truly strong 50's silver just sits and has no real market.

IP: Logged

carlaz

Posts: 239
Registered: Jan 2001

iconnumber posted 06-28-2005 06:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for carlaz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Your interest in what Tiffany's most popular pattern got me thinking and I must say, from my experience, Audobon has the most customer demand of any Tiffany pattern. Perhaps because it was a 'cost effective' version of the collectible Japanese, but also because it is still being produced today. I honestly thought that perhaps English King would be the "beige" of Tiffany flatware, but consumer demands for Audobon outweigh it by 2-1.

IP: Logged

Richard Kurtzman
Moderator

Posts: 759
Registered: Aug 2000

iconnumber posted 05-29-2009 01:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No pieces of Tiffany Special Hand Work are common, but the set posted by Ulysses is "typical" of this line.

Here is a basket that is unusual. It almost looks like a piece of Arthur Stone. I have not seen anything like it in Special Hand Work.

Has anyone seen any examples like this?


IP: Logged

FredZ

Posts: 1069
Registered: Jun 99

iconnumber posted 05-29-2009 01:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FredZ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree Richard. This piece could easily have the mark of Stone on the base. The chasing is superb and definately of the Arts & Crafts Movement style.

Nice piece.

Best,
Fred

IP: Logged

Richard Kurtzman
Moderator

Posts: 759
Registered: Aug 2000

iconnumber posted 05-29-2009 03:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Fred, I have seen a number of Special Hand Work pieces pieces that could easily be Kalo or Lebolt.
The quote from the Ark Antiques catalog, above, mentions Kalo, Lebolt and Stone, but this is the first one that I've seen that looks like Stone and not the other two.
I may be mistaken, but I think that they did much less of this type of design.

[This message has been edited by Richard Kurtzman (edited 05-29-2009).]

IP: Logged

Brent

Posts: 1502
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 05-29-2009 06:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This reminds me of something I found not long ago. I purchased some pieces of Arts & Crafts silver, one by Margaret Rogers and one by George Gebelein. In addition to the standard marks, each had a scratched "Tiffany & Co." on the bottom. I wonder if they were
  1. Samples purchased by Tiffany for reference
    OR
  2. Samples sent to Tiffany to drum up business
We know that Tiffany retailed some enamel pieces by Mary Knight of the Handicraft Shop of Boston. Seeing these examples, I have to wonder if Tiffany might not have had the Special Hand Work pieces made by others. There were certainly an abundance of small craftsmen and shops who could do the work, and it would likely have made economic sense to utilize them.

Heresy to some, but I think it is worth considering.

Brent

IP: Logged

Richard Kurtzman
Moderator

Posts: 759
Registered: Aug 2000

iconnumber posted 09-29-2009 11:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Brent, As far as I know if a piece has the Makers mark it was made by somebody at Tiffany. There are numerous pieces that are just marked Tiffany & Co. or Made For Tiffany - these were done by outside makers.

Here's another atypical example of Special Hand Work. The bowl is pretty standard, but the applied work is unusual for this line.

IP: Logged

Richard Kurtzman
Moderator

Posts: 759
Registered: Aug 2000

iconnumber posted 12-20-2009 11:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here's an extraordinary piece of Tiffany Special Hand Work. It's a cigar box given in 1930 to former New York Governor and Presidential candidate Al Smith.

It's in the form of a Medieval strap work chest and it weighs an impressive 150 plus troy ounces.

This is unlike any other Special Hand Work piece that I have seen and I am beginning to think that this category encompasses more styles than previously thought.

IP: Logged

Richard Kurtzman
Moderator

Posts: 759
Registered: Aug 2000

iconnumber posted 12-24-2009 11:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here's another fine piece of Special Hand Work. It's a heavily hammered, ribbed body and scalloped rim 9 inch vase. This piece has an Austrian almost Josef Hoffmann, Wiener Werkstatte feel to it.
Does anybody out there have any unusual examples of Special Hand Work to share?


IP: Logged

Richard Kurtzman
Moderator

Posts: 759
Registered: Aug 2000

iconnumber posted 01-06-2010 10:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While trolling completed sales at our favorite Great Online Auction Site I came upon something really unusual: a piece of Tiffany Special Hand Work flatware.

It's a seven inch pierced serving spoon (pea server?) marked with a lower case m and the number 1367.

I've never seen anything like this nor have I ever heard of Tiffany making Special Hand Work flatware. This was a revelation.

Does anybody know of any other examples of Special Hand Work flatware?

Does anyone know anything at all about Special Hand Work?





IP: Logged

Ulysses Dietz
Moderator

Posts: 1265
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 01-30-2010 04:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This quite large piece by Tiffany from their Special Hand Work line sold in January 2010 for $5000 at Sotheby's. I like that this reflects a conservative spin on modernism--a little Josef Hoffmann, but not too much. A great deal for a fine object. 14 inches across!

IP: Logged

Richard Kurtzman
Moderator

Posts: 759
Registered: Aug 2000

iconnumber posted 02-04-2010 03:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is from the same sale as the above piece. It's a large 14 1/4" copper and silver cigar box attributed to Arthur Barney and made about 1930.

IP: Logged

Richard Kurtzman
Moderator

Posts: 759
Registered: Aug 2000

iconnumber posted 06-17-2010 02:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another one of these Special Hand Work boxes attributed to Arthur L. Barney made in 1930.



IP: Logged

FredZ

Posts: 1069
Registered: Jun 99

iconnumber posted 06-17-2010 08:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for FredZ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's nice to be able to see the drawing for the box. Thanks!
Fred

IP: Logged

Richard Kurtzman
Moderator

Posts: 759
Registered: Aug 2000

iconnumber posted 04-04-2013 06:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yet another of these Special Hand Work cigar boxes.

This one is earlier than the others shown here. It dates to 1927.

It's a hefty 136 oz. including the cedar lining.

How many of these Special Hand Work boxes did Tiffany make?

IP: Logged

Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11377
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 04-05-2013 11:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
just testing something

IP: Logged

All times are ET

next newest topic | next oldest topic

Administrative Options: Close Topic | Archive/Move | Delete Topic
Post New Topic  Post A Reply
Hop to:


Ultimate Bulletin Board 5.46a


1. Public Silver Forums (open Free membership) - anyone with a valid e-mail address may register. Once you have received your Silver Salon Forum password, and then if you abide by the Silver Salon Forum Guidelines, you may start a thread or post a reply in the New Members' Forum. New Members who show a continued willingness to participate, to completely read and abide by the Guidelines will be allowed to post to the Member Public Forums.
Click here to Register for a Free password

2. Private Silver Salon Forums (invitational or $ donation membership) - The Private Silver Salon Forums require registration and special authorization to view, search, start a thread or to post a reply. Special authorization can be obtained in one of several ways: by Invitation; Annual $ Donation; or via Special Limited Membership. For more details click here (under development).

3. Administrative/Special Private Forums (special membership required) - These forums are reserved for special subjects or administrative discussion. These forums are not open to the public and require special authorization to view or post.


| Home | Order | The Guide to Evaluating Gold & Silver Objects | The Book of Silver
| Update BOS Registration | Silver Library | For Sale | Our Wants List | Silver Dealers | Speakers Bureau |
| Silversmiths | How to set a table | Shows | SMP | Silver News |
copyright © 1993 - 2020 SM Publications
All Rights Reserved.
Legal & Privacy Notices