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tline3open  Vanderbilt, silversmith

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Author Topic:   Vanderbilt, silversmith
akgdc

Posts: 289
Registered: Sep 2001

iconnumber posted 07-27-2006 07:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for akgdc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does anyone know anything about the early-20th-century New York silversmith Clarence A. Vanderbilt? Besides his location and working dates (1891-1935), I have not been able to find much about him.

I recently bought a nice water pitcher by him, in a conservative pseudo-Georgian style with inverted pear-shaped body.

I am giving the pitcher as a wedding gift and would love to be able to include information about Vanderbilt. I'm wondering particularly whether he was simply a retailer, or rather some sort of small-scale manufacturer. If so, I wonder what his niche in the market was. It seems odd to me that a small-scale maker of hollowware could have survived in New York for 40 years in the era of Tiffany, Whiting, et al., unless he had some sort of special reputation or clientele. But perhaps I'm wrong.

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akgdc

Posts: 289
Registered: Sep 2001

iconnumber posted 07-27-2006 08:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for akgdc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Some cool evidence that Vanderbilt's was a small shop:

quote:
110-112 W. 30th St. (2004)

    Clarence A. Vanderbilt (1869?-?) was a jeweler / silversmith who started in business on lower Broadway around 1891. He was located at 110 W. 30th from around 1909 to 1913. In 1913 the business moved farther west to 151-155 W. 30th St. Later addresses were on W. 38th St. (1916-19), W. 14th St. (1919-27) and E. 27th St. (1927-35). Vanderbilt appears in the US Census of 1920 age 50 born New York, living at 2334 Creston Ave., Bronx, with his wife Jennie 50 and sister-in-law Frances Cornelisse 39.

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Brent

Posts: 1502
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 07-27-2006 08:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wish I could help more with Vanderbilt, but there were at least a few small manufacturing silversmiths who managed to make a go of it in New York the 20th C. J Wagner & Son is one, and from the pieces I have seen by them their quality was quite high. Currier & Roby is another.

Hope someone can come up with more on Vanderbilt.

Brent

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ahwt

Posts: 2173
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 07-27-2006 10:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That is a wonderful web site that someone has created. Perhaps contacting them may unearth additional information or new leads for information. I wonder if any neighbors around 110-112 W. 30th St. would have information from that time period.

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Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 07-27-2006 11:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Actually, I suspect that there have always been small silversmiths that made a living, sort of. What seems to be the stock in trade of these artisans is repair work, custom production, trophies, jewelry and copies of items no longer produced. It is clearly seen in automobiles: there are always loads of small, family custom shops which can produce pretty much anything a body wants. So it is, or at least was, with silver. A small nimble speedy silversmith could frequently outproform the big companies. Frequently, in the Midwest at least, these shops were anchored in an ethnic or religious community, supplying good of a specialized nature.

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Ulysses Dietz
Moderator

Posts: 1265
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 07-29-2006 10:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Lebkeucher & Co., a small firm in Newark, was among these guys--it evolved into Eleder-Hickock, and the mark keeps turning up on custom-order things, presentation pieces, and small things for luxury retailers. Then there's Ahrendt & Kautzmann, another totally obscure Newark firm--who produced for Brand-Chatillon in NY, a 5th-Avenue retailer. The Newark Museum just purchased a great arts and crafts style sauce boat in the Kalo style. How these little guys survived is a testimony to how much silver there used to be produced. The story of the small-scale silversmith remains to be explored (and since their market value is so relatively low, it probably won't be explored, alas).

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Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 07-30-2006 12:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And, most likely, no records survive. Or the company is still in business under yet another new name doing something entirely different. When I was a kid, there was an old family business that had begun as a fur trading and processing place, became a leather shop specializing in belts for lathes, and finally a lawn mower repair shop. All of which showed a certain consistant evolution, but rather an odd string of connections.

I suspect it is not the low value of their products that prevents research. Rather the paucity of records and information makes reasearch unlikely. This sounds like a master's thesis type of study, but how to do it is the problem. All we really have is the name and location of the maker along with the surviving body of silver, and some trade information.

I would add the Skandanavian silversmiths in the Chicago area to this list. We have their production, their names and not much else.

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akgdc

Posts: 289
Registered: Sep 2001

iconnumber posted 07-30-2006 03:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for akgdc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting thoughts. I assume it was around World War II that the last of these small, independent commercial (as opposed to "art") silversmiths ceased business.

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Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 07-30-2006 11:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No clue akgdc. They seem to have disappeared gradually. It seems that several shops I knew of in the 70's were remnents of old silversmitheries. One simply did repairs, and was always months behind. Another had moved into lighting fixtures. Several were small scale replaters. A few others had become retail jewelers. A rather mixed lot of paths that could be followed.

In WW2, I have heard of several silversmith/jewelers who were drafted into high tech equipment repair. And one who defused bombs, using jewelers' tools.

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bascall

Posts: 1626
Registered: Nov 99

iconnumber posted 01-03-2013 04:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bascall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Seventy-one year old Clarence A Vanderbilt is listed in the 1940 Census as a proprietor-silverware manufacture. (No doubt the establishment in the image attached to this thread.)

[This message has been edited by bascall (edited 01-03-2013).]

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