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Author Topic:   Gorham Hamburg flatware and holloware
Bryan Abbott

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Registered: Feb 2006

iconnumber posted 06-20-2006 07:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bryan Abbott     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
[26-1106 16-0010]

I am sure some of you are familiar with Gorham Hamburg flatware. Does anyone on here recall ever seeing Hamburg Hollowware? It is one of the scarcer Gorham patterns from the 1880's. I would like to hear from anyone who has seen even a cup or pin tray.

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Dale

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iconnumber posted 06-20-2006 11:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Maybe posting some pictures of the flatware would trigger our memories. Please tell us something about your interest in silver. Do you collect Hamburg?

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Bryan Abbott

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iconnumber posted 06-21-2006 12:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bryan Abbott     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have collected and dealt in flatware for some time. I have recently come across the first pieces of Hamburg holloware that I have ever seen. I have been asking collectors and dealers that I know if they have ever seen an example so as to establish relative rarity. I am very curious to find out more. I have owned several pieces of Gorham that have been speculated about as to their rarity. Gorham Iron work for instance was once considered much scarcer than it is now as the result of the influx of information via the internet. Curio or Cairo holloware I have found to be similar, there being a bit more of it out there than once thought. Columbus flatware by Gorham on the other hand seems as scarce to me as it did years ago. Curiousity... new finds. The same fuel that seems propels most collectors.

Thanks for the note Dale.

Sincerely,

Bryan Abbott

[This message has been edited by Bryan Abbott (edited 06-21-2006).]

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Dale

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iconnumber posted 06-21-2006 12:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the kind word Bryan. Could you post pictures of the Hamburg pieces? Some people here may not be familiar with the pattern. Pictures would be a great help to us. Please post some.

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Paul Lemieux

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Registered: Apr 2000

iconnumber posted 06-23-2006 10:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hamburg is a fascinating handmade pattern from about 1880-85. Handles have a partially twisted stem with a long, flat, hammered finial, which is stamped in random places with one or more various designs: bugs, faces, cows, fishes, and a host of other intriguing motifs. I did once see a pie knife with a line of stamped bird footprint-like shapes on the blade. All of the pieces I have seen have been stamped STERLING plus the "C" mark that appears on some of Gorham's handwrought ca 1880 flatware.

Below are five cocktail forks, each of which is stamped with two different motifs. My favorites are the grasshopper, the quartet of two shells, a snail, and a millipede, and the wide-eyed, shaggy-haired mutt.

During the 1880s, many makers, including Gorham, Durgin, Dominick & Haff, Shiebler, etc., experimented on flatware with large and often irregular planishing marks, giving pieces a primitive, rough-hewn appearance, which was often augmented by the uneven silhouettes of the handles themselves. I love this look, but have always thought Hamburg's additional stamped designs made it the most interesting pattern of the lot. Unfortunately, Hamburg is quite scarce and I have not found another piece since the cocktail forks.

By the way, can anybody suggest a reason behind the name "Hamburg"?


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venus

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iconnumber posted 06-24-2006 07:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for venus     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What unusual looking forks Paul,very nice indeed. Was there some German connection to Gorham, thus that name?

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rian

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iconnumber posted 06-24-2006 08:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for rian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Gorham introduced Hamburg ca.1880 also Cairo and Hizen (southern coast of Japan) These are all places a ship might call. Three really adventurous, ground-breaking patterns at about the same time. Venus, maybe some designer took a world cruise or dreamed of taking one.

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Paul Lemieux

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iconnumber posted 06-24-2006 10:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
At least Hizen was executed in the Japanese style. Alas, I can see no such connection between the decoration of the Hamburg pattern and Hamburg the location. Perhaps the designer was a Hamburgian immigrant.

I believe Cairo was originally called Curio.

[This message has been edited by Paul Lemieux (edited 06-24-2006).]

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rian

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iconnumber posted 06-24-2006 12:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for rian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Carpenter mentions Cairo and includes a picture of a serving spoon (pp104-5) in his book on Gorham. He suggests the Islamic style of the floral decoration may account for the name.
I couldn't find any reference to Hamburg other than a picture of the pattern in Appendix II with what seems to be a little girl's face and flowers stamped into the pocked surface of the handle.

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Bryan Abbott

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iconnumber posted 06-24-2006 02:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bryan Abbott     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Cairo was originally called Curio and I believe Hamburg originally had another name though I cannot recall it right now. It might be mentioned in Carpenters book or another reference. I will look into it when I am done unpacking. I will also foward an image or two of the Hamburg bowls.

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venus

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iconnumber posted 06-24-2006 04:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for venus     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
rian! Was thinking of posting a missing person ad for you. Haven't seen a post from you in a while, great to cya.

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Kimo

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iconnumber posted 06-26-2006 01:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have a hard time thinking of anything made by a large scale manufacturer rare or scarce unless it is a one-off handmade object produced for some special event such as a world's fair or exhibition or unless there are some existing company records that show only a couple were made as a test or such. Regular production items that seem to be harder to find than hen's teeth one year can all of a sudden start surfacing the next year or in five years.

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Paul Lemieux

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iconnumber posted 06-26-2006 03:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't think the market will ever see a sudden influx of Hamburg. It was a handmade (therefore probably expensive), avant-garde (therefore of limited appeal) pattern. I think it is safe to assume that, even though Gorham was probably the most prolific silver manufactory of the 19th century, this particular pattern was made in very small numbers and can be considered rare today. In fact, I think it is safe to say that large silver manufacturers produced many items we all know to be rarities today, even if these weren't special commissions or documented experiments.

[This message has been edited by Paul Lemieux (edited 06-26-2006).]

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Bryan Abbott

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iconnumber posted 06-28-2006 01:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bryan Abbott     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Kimo,
I think the words you are looking for are unique and perhaps extraordinarily-rare. The words rare and scarce are defined as "uncommon" or "Insufficient to meet demand" which would accurately describe Hamburg and several other early Gorham patterns. A pattern patented in 1885 may have had very limited initial demand and have fallen out of favor quickly. The result would be very limited production. When compounded by 120 years of attrition in one form or another, we end up with rarity.

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dragonflywink

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iconnumber posted 06-28-2006 01:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dragonflywink     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have a cast Gorham lily of the valley souvenir spoon from the early 1890s that was recently photographed for an upcoming book. After much research, the authors (both well-regarded in the souvenir spoon community) have found only one other example, in the Gorham collection at the Rhode Island School of Design. Started collecting spoons with lily of the valley designs about 25 years ago and have never seen another. With all the resources and connections available via the internet, seems that some other pieces would have shown up by now (feel sure that there are others out there). Doubt that this little demitasse spoon was anything special at production, but believe that it qualifies as a rare piece now. That is, until someone finds a gross of them stashed in a forgotten warehouse. biggrin

As for Hamburg, can't say that I've ever seen any in person, and very rarely in print or online. Wonderful to see those forks, Paul! Know you like the creepy crawlies, and agree the pup is great, but those big-mouthed, bulgy-eyed fish are just so cool.

Cheryl ;o)

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Paul S

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iconnumber posted 10-21-2006 11:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul S     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for your post Bryan. I appreciated seeing photos of your Hamburg hollowware in the last silver magazine. It has always been an interesting pattern that has intrigued me. I didn't realize how rare it really is, since when I first came upon the pattern I found two different sets of cocktail forks within weeks of each other both at reasonable prices. I haven't seen a piece since until I came upon this olive combination fork which I think is also Hamburg.

It doesn't have any stamped decoration, only the two applied crabs but the markings are the same as the Hamburg cocktail forks I have, and it also has the hand hammered finish & saw-tooth edges like the forks. (Different from the photo posted.)

Question: Did Gorham use this unusual mark (I call it the Codman mark) on pieces other than Hamburg? Is the Hamburg pattern limited exclusively to the stamped decoration, or is some also applied or perhaps both stamped & applied. I have seen some Shiebler work (Homeric or Medallion) that has a similar style with more organic shapes and stamped decoration. Maybe it was a style that didn't catch on since both are what I consider rare in today's market.

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Paul Lemieux

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iconnumber posted 10-21-2006 11:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the pictures, Paul. Neat pieces. I have seen examples of the olive server before. In spite of its carrying the "C" mark, I am sure it is not the Hamburg pattern, as it lacks two of the main characteristics of that design (partially twisted handle, stamped animals).

The C is a mark I have seen only on pieces that are apparently mostly handmade, and so far, all of these pieces have had the same rough-hewn feel. I also have an ice cream set including a large slice and a dozen spoons. Each has random hammer marks, and the bowls and stems of the spoons are all slightly different from each other and irregular in shape. All pieces of this set are topped with what appears to be an ancient Roman coin (although the coins were probably made by the Gorham factory to look old). The 13 items are merely marked "C".

Interestingly, a Hamburg youth set I once had was stamped with the lion-anchor-G on the blade, as well as "STERLING". I think the other pieces were marked STERLING also. I do not recall those pieces being marked "C". The set came in a marked Gorham presentation case. Also once saw another example of the 13-pc ice cream set, which also only carried the C mark, but came in a lovely Gorham Aesthetic style presentation case. This was offered on a silver website and I don't think I saved pictures before it sold.

Of all of Gorham's 19th century flat silver work, the "C" line is among my favorites. I wish I knew how it was marketed (if at all), how much was produced, how it came to be, etc.

[This message has been edited by Paul Lemieux (edited 10-21-2006).]

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Paul S

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iconnumber posted 10-22-2006 02:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul S     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the info Paul. I was unsure if everything with the "C" mark is called Hamburg. I didn't know there were different patterns with that mark. The ice cream set sounds really neat....any chance we could see a photo of it???

[This message has been edited by Paul S (edited 10-22-2006).]

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June Martin
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iconnumber posted 10-22-2006 11:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for June Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Bryan, sure would like to see photos of the Hamburg hollowware.

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Paul Lemieux

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iconnumber posted 11-20-2006 10:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is the Gorham ice cream set, marked only "C" on every piece, I mentioned early. Finally had a chance to drag it out and photograph it tonight.

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Paul S

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Registered: Dec 2000

iconnumber posted 10-02-2007 02:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul S     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is what I assume is another example of the "C" mark flatware. I would say the design is Thai/Siamese. I'm somewhat skeptical they are, but they look similar to Paul's Roman example.

Any comments??

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Richard Kurtzman
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iconnumber posted 12-17-2007 04:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Bryan,
In your article entitled A NEW DISCOVERY IN THE GORHAM HAMBURG PATTERN in the September/October 2006 issue of Silver Magazine you wrote:

"I recently purchased two bowls which appear to be in the Hamburg pattern that may represent a new discovery to Hamburg collectors. After discussion with fellow collectors and silver dealers, we are unable to establish the existence of any other hollowware in this pattern.... Because they seem unique, one might argue that they are experimental pieces but this is open to conjecture.... Perhaps one day, collectors of this pattern will share information about Gorham Hamburg."

In the spirit of sharing, below is a copy of a page from the Gorham Autumn 1883 Catalogue depicting bowl No.1895 which is decorated with Hamburg motifs.

I also have a bowl, (No.1870 with the year mark for 1885) that matches the ones you mentioned in this forum and displayed in your article.

I believe that your bowls are indeed quite rare, but neither unique or experimental.

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Richard Kurtzman
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iconnumber posted 12-19-2007 01:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here are photos of the top and bottom of the No.1870 "Hamburg" bowl and some of the Hamburg elements. I haven't a clue as to what logic was behind the choosing of these things.

Anybody have an idea?








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Paul Lemieux

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iconnumber posted 05-04-2008 09:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another one for our growing list of Gorham "C" mark items. These tongs have the same feel as my and Paul's spoons. The "coins" were separately produced and then soldered into openings on the tongs' handles, rather than just being struck as part of the handles. These coins seem to have kind of an Ottoman Empire feel.

Richard, have you seen any references to these coin patterns in any of your catalogs?

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Richard Kurtzman
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iconnumber posted 05-05-2008 07:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Paul, I've not seen any source material on the coins.

Regarding the C mark, Gorham Archivist, Sam Hough wrote a small piece about it for the Fall 2000 issue of the New York Silver Society Newsletter:

"A few years ago I bought two Gorham fish forks in the Hizen pattern from Larry Marsh. One fork is marked with the traditional lion, anchor, G; the other, which is otherwise identical, is marked only with a "C". Larry had encountered the "C" on numerous pieces, and as I talked to others about it, many others have seen such markings. As far as I have been able to learn the "C" appears on Hizen and Hamburg, both cast and both Japaneseque. (Can anyone explain why such a Japanese inspired design as Hamburg was given a Germanic name?) Because all the pieces that I know of are on these cast patterns, I expect that the "C" stands for "cast." The mystery is why some are marked with the "C" and some are not. I have not learned of any pieces with both the lion, anchor, G, and the "C", although it would be conceivable that the two could appear together. Have others among the readership experience which would enlarge our understanding of this anomaly?"

In the seven and a half years since this article, a variety of pieces bearing the C mark have come to light. We still don't know for sure why it was used or why it is never seen together with the traditional Gorham mark.

Below is another interesting piece with the C mark. It's a 10 11/12" very heavy weight server.
The design is sort of a cross between Hamburg and Shiebler Medallion.



[


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Paul Lemieux

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iconnumber posted 05-05-2008 08:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Richard, thanks for the pics of that weird and wonderful server and the quote from the NYSS newsletter.

C can't stand for cast, as Hamburg is not cast and nearly every piece I have seen (save for a couple Hizen pieces) was definitely not formed by casting.

Has anybody seen the "C" mark on non-flatware?

Seems like the mark'll remain a mystery for awhile.

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Richard Kurtzman
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iconnumber posted 06-12-2008 07:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I believe that this 4 1/2" letter opener or book mark is the missing link. It has both the Gorham Lion Anchor G trademark and the C mark.

One might argue that the C is the year mark but I greatly doubt this as this piece, stylishly, is very much 1880ish not 1870. The end of the handle is a faux Roman coin similar to the ones on the ice cream set that Paul posted.

This is the first time that I have ever seen these two marks together.




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Paul Lemieux

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iconnumber posted 06-12-2008 11:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Richard,

Thanks for posting your letter opener. So at long last we see "C" and the Gorham marks on the same piece. An exciting find!

Is the handle of the letter opener cast, stamped, or hand-forged?

Something about the shape of the letter opener and its marks makes me feel like it is late 1880s production, while the other "C" pieces posted thus far strike me as early 1880s period.

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Richard Kurtzman
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iconnumber posted 06-26-2008 10:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Paul, I haven't had the opportunity to handle this letter opener so I can't tell you how it was constructed. Most of these C pieces though are quite heavy which makes me believe that they are cast.

Here is an example that I have handled. It's a fish server measuring about 11" and weighing a substantial 6.3oz.

This is one of the most unusual C pieces that I have seen.




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Paul Lemieux

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iconnumber posted 06-26-2008 11:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That fish is unreal!!!

All of the C pieces I have owned/seen seem to be handforged not cast.

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Richard Kurtzman
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iconnumber posted 11-29-2008 05:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was going through a 1980's book on small English silver, which I hadn't looked at in years, when I came upon this photo:

The caption reads:

Fine pair of fish servers applied with a crab and a fish. The blade and prongs are chased with a wave effect giving a distinctly Art Nouveau flavour. American, c. 1890 each impressed: "Sterling" and with a capital C.

The date attribution is off a number of years and it's not Art Nouveau.

Nonetheless this is a great example of Gorham Japanesque Aesthetic Movement C mark flatware that I never noticed before.

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Richard Kurtzman
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iconnumber posted 03-21-2009 01:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is a link to an earlier post by Paul Lemieux showing a Hamburg pie server. Hamburg

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Richard Kurtzman
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iconnumber posted 03-21-2009 01:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is another pie server measuring about 8 3/4".



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Paul Lemieux

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iconnumber posted 03-21-2009 03:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Richard, thanks for posting another great example of Hamburg. I can't decide if Hamburg or Durgin Bug is my favorite pattern of all time.

I was rereading this thread, and upon closer scrutiny, it looks to me like the "coin" letter opener above is in fact marked "6", not "C".

Does anybody have any thoughts about the artistic origins of Hamburg? Even with a degree in art history I cannot remember ever seeing a precedent for the style of Hamburg (i.e., a series of seemingly random images placed together). To me it just seems totally ahead of its time. I know some of the specific images (e.g., the carps and bugs) were inspired by Japanese art/the Aesthetic Movement. Others, such as dogs and cows, I can't really account for (well I guess these were probably used in 19C Realism e.g. Rosa Bonheur). But grouping these motifs together, sometimes along with stamped motifs like animal tracks, seems to defy logic. Hamburg seems more to embody Surrealism (which was still many decades away) than Japonisme.

[This message has been edited by Paul Lemieux (edited 03-21-2009).]

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Paul Lemieux

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iconnumber posted 03-23-2009 02:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This was posted by agleopar in the Surreal Designs thread:
quote:
Use me, as the “everyman” to look at Hamburg i.e. what are we missing that they might have assumed. Is it truly the “free” design I first took Medallion for or is it a bad interpretation or a combination of things.

I think Hamburg, Shiebler Etruscan, and the other better patterns characterized by an unfinished and/or distressed feeling are among the most beautiful and thoughtful ever produced in American silver. To me, the stamped animals/figures are fascinating but merely incidental to the beauty of the designs. I do like the stamped bugs, etc., although I'd like Shiebler's Etrsucan much better without the medallions, just leaving the textures and fake cracks. My favorite examples in this post are the hammered ones having the least figural decoration.

I have to think that intentional distress and/or incompleteness on a commercial product was extremely avant-garde in 1880 and that is why we hardly ever see Hamburg or other Gorham hammered "C" line flatware around. It was just too new and startling for the majority of the silver-buying public to appreciate.

The aesthetic of this silver comes from the Japanese appreciation of the unfinished/"ugly"/asymmetrical/damaged (the concept of "conscious destitution"), and in my opinion, it takes a very skilled designer to create something beautiful while adhering to a vision of incompleteness, asymmetry, and the unfinished.

This is why I think Hamburg and other patterns of its ilk are beautiful and way ahead of their time.


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agleopar

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iconnumber posted 03-23-2009 08:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for agleopar     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Paul, I could not agree more with the above. Since taste is so personal my guess is that these patterns appealed to a certain group and I am sure sold well to them but not to the larger public.


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Richard Kurtzman
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iconnumber posted 04-08-2009 07:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Paul,

You may be right about the C being a 6 on the letter opener. Stylistically it look like a C piece but as I mentioned this is not a piece that I have handled so I can't say for sure one way or the other.

Below is a piece that I have handled: A Hamburg cream ladle with an applied copper blade of grass. I am not sure if the copper is original as I have never seen this combination before and the applique work is somewhat sloppy. It is about 6" long and has the usual C mark.







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Paul Lemieux

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iconnumber posted 04-08-2009 09:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another intriguing piece, Richard. I haven't seen applied mixed metal work on C mark pieces either. To my eye it seems awkward on this Hamburg example, especially since the copper sits on top of part of the stampings. Is that some kind of solder I see between the two blades of grass?

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Richard Kurtzman
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iconnumber posted 01-29-2011 03:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Paul, It's only taken me nearly two years to respond (My apologies.) but yes it is sloppy solder work which leads me to believe that the copper may not be original.

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agleopar

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iconnumber posted 01-30-2011 09:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for agleopar     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The copper is so one dimensional and badly soldered that I think your right.

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Cheryl and Richard

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iconnumber posted 02-20-2014 06:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cheryl and Richard     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Back on June 12, 2008 Paul Lemieux said "at long last" a connction - a 'C' and Gorham's makers mark on the same piece.
Here we have two pieces that could have only been made by the same hand. However, one has the 'C' and the other is marked Gorham.

Compare the marks:


[This message has been edited by Cheryl and Richard (edited 02-20-2014).]

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