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Author Topic:   Marshall Field Colonial server
taloncrest

Posts: 169
Registered: Jun 2004

iconnumber posted 03-11-2006 02:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for taloncrest     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
[26-0951]

I found a very interesting pastry server in a local antique mall yesterday, and purchased it because the construction was new to me, and I do not have much arts and crafts silver in my collection.

Looking in Rainwater, Marshall Field was the only possible match, and thanks to an older thread on these forums I have identified it as Marshall Field Colonial pattern.

I've gone to the local library this morning, and put in an inter library loan request for Darling's Chicago Metalsmiths in a effort to find out more.

I thought that even the old hands here might find pictures of it interesting, so I'll try my luck at posting photos again.

It is maybe an eighth of an inch shy of 11 inches long, but it is not monogrammed. I thought it was very interesting that it was marked on the side, rather than the front or back.

I'm sorry that my picture of the server in it's entirety is so dark.




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FWG

Posts: 845
Registered: Aug 2005

iconnumber posted 03-11-2006 04:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FWG     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Nice find! I spent six years in Chicago doing my graduate work -- and looking at all the silver I could -- and I don't remember seeing more than a very few Marshall Fields marked pieces. This piece certainly looks typical of the Chicago Arts & Crafts pieces I've seen; not that there have been that many of them. As written in one of the other threads, the movement made a strange combination of modernist and traditional motifs.

For those who don't know the name, Marshall Fields is one of the grand department stores of Chicago, and I believe the most up-scale, being a little more so than Carson Pirie Scott (its nearest competitor). It's now part of a large conglomerate, of course, but unlike so many of the old regional department stores the name has been kept.

Another department store that apparently made some of its own silver, as well as selling lots from others, was Birks in Montreal [NB: see corrections below]. I've seen many Birks pieces, throughout Canada and the US. Birks also sometimes added their mark to pieces of silver they resold, typically English sterling -- but I think I saw one once with Birks and French marks. I never saw Marshall Fields marked pieces with other makers marks, even though they also sold at some times both antiques and new pieces from other silversmiths.

[This message has been edited by FWG (edited 03-12-2006).]

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FWG

Posts: 845
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iconnumber posted 03-11-2006 05:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FWG     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
PS: if you use a neutral density background you'll have an easier time getting an even exposure. Translated, that means something with about the tonal value of grey cardboard -- it can be any color (although medium-light blue is traditional for silver, and shows it off well), but about that level of darkness.

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rian

Posts: 169
Registered: Jan 2006

iconnumber posted 03-11-2006 07:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for rian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Would the Marshall Field's Colonial pieces have been cut out and then hand hammered to give them their texture, or would they have been rolled out that way by machine? Is it easy to tell the difference when you have the silver in your hand? Can you tell if it was made all in one piece, or does it look as though the handle was applied? Thank you for posting the pictures. I don't think I've ever seen one like it.

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Kayvee

Posts: 204
Registered: Oct 2004

iconnumber posted 03-11-2006 11:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kayvee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A note of clarification about Birks, which is not a department store like Marshall Fields, but Canada's most prestigious maker and retailer of silver and jewelry, sometimes called "Tiffany of the north."

The Birks website gives a comprehensive history of the firm, and using the Forum search function will yield many posts about the company and its products.

For those interested in 20th Century silver, a well-known Birks' designer and silversmith was Carl Poul Petersen, a son-in-law of Georg Jensen who worked for Birks for many years before establishing his own firm in Montreal.

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taloncrest

Posts: 169
Registered: Jun 2004

iconnumber posted 03-11-2006 11:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for taloncrest     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think that it is hand hammered, but I'm still learning.

I am including an attempt to get a good shot of the joint of the blade and handle. It looks like it was made in two pieces and joined together.


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outwest

Posts: 390
Registered: Nov 2005

iconnumber posted 03-12-2006 02:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for outwest     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Nice pictures and that's a very interesting piece. It certainly looks hand made and hand hammered. I did not realize that department stores made their own silver ever! In style it reminds me very much of a tea/coffee set I have. It's International Sterling from the 1920's that is hammered. I've always wondered if it was roll hammered or hand hammered. How can someone tell? I rather assumed everything from the major players was machine made by the 1920's. But, the diamond monogram areas are not hammered. I can never decide if I think it is art deco, arts and crafts or a mix with some classical thrown in. smile

Is hammering considered arts and crafts then?

[say....is that M and F connected? That looks rather like the MF on the napkin rings in another thread]

[This message has been edited by outwest (edited 03-12-2006).]

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FWG

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iconnumber posted 03-12-2006 08:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for FWG     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My apologies, Kayvee, and to the fine folks at Birks. Mea culpa. I was always told by friends in Montreal that it was a department store, although I never visited. When I was around there, in the early '90s, they were closing down stores and reported to be out of business -- but apparently the company was bought out and seems to now be going strong. In the past they also had retail outlets in the US, which helps account for the amount of their work seen here.

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rian

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Registered: Jan 2006

iconnumber posted 03-12-2006 08:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for rian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the extra pictures.

It sure does look like it was made in two pieces! I suppose that with enough skill and effort the irregularities of hand hammering could be reproduced by machine, but that applied handle argues convincingly for a handwrought piece.

I'd be interested in knowing who did the work for Marshall Field. Let us know what you find out with the Darling book. Chicago was a big rail hub though, and Marshall Field wouldn't have had to contract locally.

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hello

Posts: 200
Registered: Jun 2005

iconnumber posted 03-12-2006 08:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for hello     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Birks was going the path of the "regular" jewellery store in the early 90's, with many outlets everywhere. They came under new management (shame in a way bc it was still in the family when it was sold to the current owners) and they returned it to it's "prestige" of earlier days.

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Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 03-12-2006 12:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
At some point, the common story goes, Marshall Field had an in house silver smith shop. This shop took orders, designed custom pieces and generally sold hand made silver to the public.

People I knew who remembered this always said that it was a small operation. And not capable of the volumn of production sold. The supposition was that work was farmed out to other shops, like Kalo. And to the numerous silversmiths who worked in Chicago. Which explains the variations found on MF silver.

The shop did make silver right in front of your eyes. But also had a backup system for larger scale production.\

This is what I was told some 30 years ago by several people who had actually bought silver there and seen the operation.

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FredZ

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Registered: Jun 99

iconnumber posted 03-12-2006 02:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FredZ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Marshall Field had a large silver production shop that took up an entire floor of it's store. I have seen and documented an entire set for 12 of sterling flatware marked Colonial. The set had a rounded end and no chased line. They most often made their spoons in two parts and soldered the handle to the bowl. Your server shows solder seams as well. They also produced hollare to match and made jewelry as well.

Darcy Evon of the Chicago Sun Times wrote a comprehensive article about the shop over a year ago and was published in the newspaper.

Sharon Darling also shows an image of the shop and production which also included cast bronze desksets and accessories.

Fred

[This message has been edited by FredZ (edited 03-12-2006).]

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rian

Posts: 169
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iconnumber posted 03-12-2006 04:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for rian     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you Dale and FredZ. I'm still trying to get my mind wrapped around the idea of a smithy inside of a department store. In this century...oops, no, it was in the last century after all. My husband says that he can get the article for me if I can't find it myself.

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taloncrest

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Registered: Jun 2004

iconnumber posted 03-12-2006 05:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for taloncrest     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm looking forward to reading the Darling book. I found a Chicago Sun-Times article by Darcy Evon using Google. I don't know if it is the same one FredZ mentioned. The title is "Chicago institution promoted field" and if you search for that, it comes up first.

Outwest, yes, the M and the F are joined together.

[This message has been edited by taloncrest (edited 03-12-2006).]

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Dale

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Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 03-12-2006 11:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

quote:
Chicago institution promoted field
Chicago Sun-Times, Oct 2, 2002 by Darcy Evon

Marshall Field & Co. traces its roots to 1852, when Potter Palmer opened a store that would later become the stalwart institution deeply intertwined with Chicago history.

As Field's marks its 150th anniversary this week, one little- known aspect of its history from 1880 to 1920 deserves special mention, because the store was in the vanguard of the American Arts and Crafts Movement--an artistic impetus that centered on the hand- wrought manufacture of jewelry and objects to beautify the home.

As early as 1878, Mrs. Potter Palmer promoted handmade objects made by women as a means of celebrating art and opening new careers for women. By the turn of the century, Hull House was offering Arts and Crafts metalwork instruction, and artisans were beginning to organize shops and special exhibitions to sell their wares.

Marshall Field & Co. exerted a significant impact on the movement by emphasizing the connection between hand-wrought jewelry and home accessories, demonstrating how seemingly mundane objects such as desk blotters, inkwells and napkin rings can be as elegant as jewelry in the hands of the right craftsmen and women.

By 1903, Field's management established one of the first commercial arts and crafts enterprises in the city. George H. Dufour, an Oak Park resident, organized the Craft Shop in the Field's annex at 25 E. Washington, producing jewelry and silver. In a 1975 letter to the Chicago Historical Society, a Field's executive, Arnold Mason, recalled Dufour as "a jeweler, silversmith and all-around mechanic."

As Craft Shop items soared in popularity, it expanded to employ dozens of men and women, and Dufour moved onto the 10th floor of the State Street building.

Field's institutionalized Arts and Crafts in its retail infrastructure by creating The Kenilworth Gift Shop, which it called "a store within a store."

Actually, Kenilworth was a wholesale enterprise that helped take Chicago's indigenous and distinctive art objects nationwide by selling to other retailers. Craftsmen in Field's Craft Shop produced delightful jewelry and hand-wrought articles in copper, brass, bronze and silver. They introduced an extremely popular Colonial sterling silver pattern that reinforced the fierce independence and Americanism of the movement.

One anonymous writer in 1908 noted, "The distinguishing quality of the Marshall Field and Company Craft Shop is coordinated individualism of production which is artistic and desirable because there is crystallized in each separate article the fine personal impulse of the craftsman."

At times, the demand for hand-wrought silver was so great that Field's commissioned pieces to local master craft workers such as Julius Randahl, a Swedish silversmith who had one of the leading shops in Park Ridge and Chicago.

In 1885, Isadore V. Friedman, a Russian Jewish immigrant born in Kiev, came to Chicago with his family. He later joined the many talented artisans and entrepreneurs who worked in the Craft Shop at the State Street store. Friedman, who later taught metal shop classes at Hull House on the South Side, handcrafted beautiful jewelry and silver items that were selected to be exhibited in the prestigious Annual Applied Arts Exhibits (1902-1923) at the Art Institute of Chicago. He went on to work with many of the major Chicago silversmiths and in his own business.

And thanks to Field's Craft Shop, Ernest Gerlach developed the skills necessary to land a position with the Tre-O Shop in Evanston, an important Arts and Crafts studio founded by Clara Flinn and Hope McMaster in 1908. It was there he met a talented designer and metalsmith, Margery Woodworth, and the two of them launched the Cellini Shop in Evanston around 1914.

The Cellini Shop, named for the fabled Italian silversmith, became so well known for its original designs and use of new materials in handwrought tableware that it thrived well into the 1960s when it merged with the Randahl Shop, later sold to Reed & Barton, and fell into obscurity.

Lucky collectors can often find arts and crafts brooches, bracelets, fobs, desk sets, silver flatware, tea sets, trays and cutlery made by Marshall Field & Co Craft Shop in antique shops, galleries and at eBay.

Darcy Evon is a trade magazine publisher, Sun-Times high-tech columnist and a local arts and crafts expert who is working on a new and updated book about Chicago jewelers and metal workers. She can be contacted at darcyevon@suntimesmail.com.


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Dale

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iconnumber posted 03-12-2006 11:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is my horribly amateurish way of linking to articles about Marshall Field & Company. The building is a major historical one, in use since 1892. In addition to the silversmith shop, it also contained a cooking school. And lots of other cool stuff.

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