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tline3open  Gorham ladle-ladies/lady's pattern, is it rare?

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Author Topic:   Gorham ladle-ladies/lady's pattern, is it rare?

Posts: 16
Registered: Dec 2004

iconnumber posted 05-27-2007 08:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for david     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

I have recently bought couple of pieces of Gorham silver as they seemed really good quality. I've not seen many pieces in UK so I'm not able to judge their rarity.

I've researched one of the patterns and can only find one written reference to it in an online article. It seems to be ladies/lady's pattern . It is marked Patent 1868 has the Gorham mark but no year mark.
Any information welcome.

Thanks David

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Posts: 1203
Registered: Feb 2005

iconnumber posted 05-27-2007 09:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jersey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hello David!

You have a magnificent piece! I cannot ID the pattern but what I can tell you is that there is a Gorham pattern called Olive Branch I believe that has the lady's hand similar to yours. They do appear to be rare.

Hope this is a start, I'll keep searching in the meantime.


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Posts: 16
Registered: Dec 2004

iconnumber posted 05-28-2007 04:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for david     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for your comments Jersey,

This and the Towle fork (on another post) are the only 2 pieces of American silver i have. In fact the only two Ive seen for sale at UK auctions.

I see what you mean about the olive branch pattern very similar in style to my piece. Olive branch is a bit more decorative than mine and obviously very popular, the price these are making! I would never have guessed.

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Posts: 1597
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 05-29-2007 09:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In general, Gorham is perhaps one of the most commonly seen makers of silver in America, though some of their individual patterns and specially commissioned objects are not commonly found for sale. I just did a quick search on Gorham sterling on the US pages of the big internet auction site and it came up with 3,800 auction listings. I think the reason why some Gorham patterns and objects are not commonly seen is that Gorham has produced so many different patterns plus so many off-pattern objects, plus so many special commission objects over their 175 years of production. They began in 1831 and are still manufacturing today, though they are now owned by the Lenox Company which is best known for their porcelain wares. In my personal opinion I think Gorham's real golden era was between about 1865 (just after the American Civil War) and the 1930s (the American depression era when few people had much money to spend on luxuries like nice silver). Dating Gorham objects can be simple when you find one with one of their date marks that they began using in 1868, but for the most part I tend to see these marks on hollowware rather than flatware. Also, when you find an object with a patent date marked on it that is of limited use in dating the actual object. The patent date simply gives the year that it was first introduced and most patterns were made for a great many decades after that year. The marking system for silver in America is very different from that in the U.K. in that companies can use pretty much whatever kinds of markings that strike their fancy. For example, Gorham mainly uses a set of three marks that are meant to remind people of actual British hallmarks. The only somewhat enforceable requirement in the US for silver manufacturers is that they use the marking "Sterling" or "925" on silver of that purity, or "Coin" on silver of that lesser purity. There has never been much in the way government oversight on the use of those markings however, so one must put some trust in the reputation of the maker.

In thinking about this just now, I wonder whether there was ever any difficulty with the British government in terms of permitting the importation of Gorham silver because of Gorham's use of their three markings (lion, anchor, gothic G) that are almost identical to the Birmingham hallmarks for 1830? I could certainly understand were the British government to say that such markings would be unacceptable for imported silver. If this is the case then that might account for the lack of much Gorham silver in the UK these days.

[This message has been edited by Kimo (edited 05-29-2007).]

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Paul Lemieux

Posts: 1768
Registered: Apr 2000

iconnumber posted 05-29-2007 02:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Your cream ladle is in the "Lady's" pattern (1868) by Gorham. It was expensive and/or unpopular and is hard to find today. It was probably just made for a few years, likely only into the early 1870s.

Gorham rarely date-marked their flatware. The only pattern I have always seen with a date mark is "Limoges", a scarce enamel variant of the "Medici" pattern.

I don't think the Gorham trademarks would have caused any problems for British importation. I personally do not think they are similar enough to Birmingham 1830 marks to have done so. I think it is more likely that, since there were always British makers producing silver similar to that of Gorham, it would have been easier, and probably better for the nation's economy, for retailers simply to offer UK silver.

If anybody has a copy of Ian Pickford's "Silver Flatware: English, Irish & Scottish 1660-1980" book, look at figure 243. Although these are said to be by London smith Edward Barnard, they are absolutely identical to Gorham's "Japanese" pattern. I have always wondered if this is a mistake, if Barnard was some sort of importer rather than maker, or if he was merely a horrible plagiarist who shamelessly stole one of Gorham's great pattern designs.

[This message has been edited by Paul Lemieux (edited 05-29-2007).]

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Posts: 252
Registered: May 2006

iconnumber posted 05-29-2007 05:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DB     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"Stole" is maybe a very harsh word,after all Japanese was inspired by Japanese styles. I think the big expositions were the hunting grounds for "new ideas" and in this case - unless otherwise proven, Gorham was first. In this connection I had a letter from J.P.Fallon, who researches the Barnard ledgers in England. He tells me that the V&A has a complete run of Barnard's sales ledgers from 1818 to the 20th century except for two missing ledgers covering the period October 1874 to July 1879. This particular flatware pattern was probably only manufactured within this time.

In the upcoming Silver Society of Canada Journal I have an article by Ann Eatwell (curator V&A) "Saving the Barnard Archives for the Nation" and she has invited me to look at the Barnard papers with her - so maybe something surfaces after all, which can shed light on this.

By the way copying and "inspired by" happens more often than we think - just think of Bacchanalian and Tiffany's Olympia,new example are constantly found - just look at an olive fork (Dale E. Bennett: Exotic Olive Servers, Silver Mag.May/June 2007,Fig.17 ) which serving portion is an exact replica of Whiting's Ivory pattern.

Dorothea Burstyn

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Posts: 252
Registered: May 2006

iconnumber posted 05-29-2007 05:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DB     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I should have mentioned that the olive fork was by W. Comyns.

Here two photos of Barnard's Japanese and another japanese inspired pattern by Barnard

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Paul Lemieux

Posts: 1768
Registered: Apr 2000

iconnumber posted 05-30-2007 02:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There are definite cases of "inspired by", but in the case of the Barnard Japanese-style silver flatware I mention, it is a literal copy of Gorham's "Japanese" pattern. There are no differences at all between Gorham and the Barnard pieces shown...

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Posts: 2173
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 03-11-2018 06:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Asheland's post Gorham Lady's Berry Spoon c.1870 on her beautiful Gorham Lady's Berry Spoon reminded me of this old post.
The comments about copying a different pattern by DB and Paul Lemieux reminded me of some of Tom Lehrer's advice.
Tom Lehrer said it many years ago in his Lobachevsky Lyrics. In part they read:

"I am never forget the day I first meet the great Lobachevsky.
In one word he told me secret of success in mathematics:

Let no one else's work evade your eyes,
Remember why the good lord made your eyes,
So don't shade your eyes,
But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize -
Only be sure always to call it please 'research'."

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