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tline3open  Gorham Sterling & Ivory Ink Eraser

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Author Topic:   Gorham Sterling & Ivory Ink Eraser
nutmegr

Posts: 57
Registered: Jun 2005

iconnumber posted 02-21-2014 05:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nutmegr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wanted to share this ink eraser, and hear your thoughts about it. I don't usually collect this type of piece, but I found the pattern so interesting I wanted to learn more about it! It seems to be an acid-etched silver, wrapped around an ivory core. I think the blade is steel, and is stamped with the LAG mark, the handle is marked (too faintly for a picture) "sterling 7 GORHAM MFG CO." I really like the "freeform" nature of the cutouts, they just seem so random - but are framed so well. (I will TRY to post appropriate pictures - I always have trouble with it.)


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Lisa

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nutmegr

Posts: 57
Registered: Jun 2005

iconnumber posted 02-21-2014 05:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nutmegr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Three more pictures

Lisa

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Scott Martin
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Posts: 11202
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 02-21-2014 07:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very nice!

I'll bet Richard K. has seen one of these in person?

Richard is it Ivory, Bone or celluloid?

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nutmegr

Posts: 57
Registered: Jun 2005

iconnumber posted 02-21-2014 11:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nutmegr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you so much, Scott! I'll try to remove that part of the link next time.

I don't have enough experience with ivory to know for sure if that is what it is, so I appreciate any clarification. As to date, stylistically I'm guessing late 1880's, but I really don't know anything about "ink erasers" or the time period in which they were used.

I did also wonder if there is any purpose to the "flattening" of the end of the piece. It seems deliberate, but obviously not useful as a paper knife. Page turner? Just the design?
Thanks for any thoughts!

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Lisa

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Richard Kurtzman
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Posts: 755
Registered: Aug 2000

iconnumber posted 02-21-2014 11:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm not sure what the material is.

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Scott Martin
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Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 02-21-2014 11:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What is this for?

Richard, Thanks.

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jersey

Posts: 1202
Registered: Feb 2005

iconnumber posted 02-22-2014 01:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jersey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hello,
Whatever it is it is beautiful. Great find.
Does the name on the handle have any relevance?
How & where did you come by it?
Perhaps it's Bakelite?

Scott, maybe you could ask Paul about it. He seems to have unusual pieces.

Jersey

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nutmegr

Posts: 57
Registered: Jun 2005

iconnumber posted 02-26-2014 08:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for nutmegr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Jersey - I'm sure the name is just a monogram, but I prefer monograms - I always feel a bit cheated if the original owner didn't care enough to add one. smile

I bought it on the large auction site being sold as a scalpel. The only reason I knew what it was was that I remembered reading the article Scott linked to above. It was a spontaneous purchase - but I love silver that is just "unusual."

I still think the grain and the smooth texture seems like ivory, but am not certain. Would a close up of the "ivory" portion help? (I just got some close-up filters for my camera. Photography is not my strong suit, which is why I don't post more - but I'm trying!)
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Lisa

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Scott Martin
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Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 02-26-2014 12:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'd be curious to see the other side view. Is there a seam?

I don't know if the following is correct (perhaps someone does?):

  • ivory has lower heat threshold than bone/calcium.
  • bone/calcium has a higher heat threshold than ivory.

If the above is correct then I would suspect the silver is surrounding bone. Especially if there is a solder seam on the other side. This is because I would expect Ivory to melt/burn when exposed to the solder heat.

I have heard for years about the "hot needle" test and it is described all over the internet. BUT I suspect a majority of the few real ivory experts will tell you the "hot needle" test does not work.

Close ups may prove very helpful. Perhaps we will see Schreger lines.

See:

Perhaps one of of silversmith members could explain how the silver in your eraser encases this material?

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nutmegr

Posts: 57
Registered: Jun 2005

iconnumber posted 02-27-2014 10:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for nutmegr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It never occurred to me to look for a seam, or really consider how it was put together. That said, there is no seam or join that I can see.

(Photos of the opposite side view)

Could the silver have been formed and then "slipped over" the core?

(2 pictures of the junction between the handle and the steel.)

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Lisa

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nutmegr

Posts: 57
Registered: Jun 2005

iconnumber posted 02-27-2014 10:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for nutmegr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The pictures worked!

Here are a couple of closer-up pictures of the "ivory" sections.


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Lisa

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Scott Martin
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Posts: 11202
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 02-27-2014 12:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Good job posting the photos.
They look really great.

Unfortunately I can't tell if the contents is ivory, bone or ?

I do think I see a seam:

Because of the shape of the contents, I am not all sure of how it was made? I don't think the shape allows for the silver to be slip on. To me the silver was crafted around the material (ivory, bone) and then acid etched.

I really hope one of our silvermith members gives us some input.

I still don't have a conclusion but I am still leaning towards bone.

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FredZ

Posts: 1069
Registered: Jun 99

iconnumber posted 02-27-2014 02:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FredZ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here are my observations. Whether bone of ivory it is impossible to silver solder the outer sterling case without destroying the bone or ivory. It is also impossible to insert the a piece of ivory through the opening of the handle where it is attached to the blade.
One of the possible scenarios would be to insert bone/ivory the shape of the cutouts in the silver and then fill the rest with resin or cement.
Another positivity is that the molten plastic could be poured into the shell of the handle after all the decoration had been done and then the openings could have been cut out using a graver. The blade would have been inserted into a drilled hold in the plastic.
I am certain that there are other possibilities and I will leave that to others to post.

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agleopar

Posts: 824
Registered: Jun 2004

iconnumber posted 02-27-2014 04:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for agleopar     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mmmm, my 2¢ for what it's worth...
First since it's Gorham (never seen them use bone) and because it was either dirty ivory or old bone, with the new images I'm going with ivory. It looks too "clean" to be bone which usually has inclusions of color or punky areas. Ivory can be an evan color with no imperfections, so dirty ivory.
Second, Fred covered the whys of no soldering and how they got what I am guessing is a strong full length of ivory in there is one of the reasons I wish I had had an apprenticeship at Gorham! I have no idea and all my guesses are lame. Here's one: Shape and etch the silver but leave the thin wide end open. Insert the carved ivory set the blade and hammer/burnish the end closed. The problem is I think you'd see some sort of line...? It could be lead soldered closed...?
So all in all I am no help, but it is officially one of the cutest ink scrapers!
P. S. Isn't the flat end used to crisp the fold in a letter?

[This message has been edited by agleopar (edited 02-27-2014).]

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middletom

Posts: 467
Registered: May 2004

iconnumber posted 02-27-2014 10:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for middletom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have no more idea than anyone else as to how it was made or what it was made from. If it was made in the 1880s, I don't think it could be filled with any type of plastic.
Scott, you are correct that there is a seam on the side, but I cannot be any more helpful than that.

Geoff Blake

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nutmegr

Posts: 57
Registered: Jun 2005

iconnumber posted 02-27-2014 10:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nutmegr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
(The following is out of left field, from my husband the researcher)

This an excerpt from a public domain household encyclopedia from 1802:

This section is from "The Domestic Encyclopaedia Vol3", by A. F. M. Willich. Amazon: The Domestic Encyclopaedia.

quote:
Ivory

"Ivory, the tooth or tusk of an elephant, growing on each side of his trunk, and somewhat resembling the shape of a horn.

Ivory is much esteemed for its remarkable whiteness, its polish, and beautiful grain. Dioscorides asserts, that if this substance be boiled with the root of mandrago-ras, for six hours, it may be rendered soft and flexible. By steeping small pieces of ivory in vinegar, or any other acid, they become ductile, and may be preserved in that state for a considerable time, by keeping them in common water. This hard substance may also be softened and whitened, by immersing it in a hot decoction made of red sage leaves, in double-distilled white-wine vinegar, with the addition of a little quick-lime. for removing spots, tie ivory should be laid in unslacked line, and a small portion of water poured on it, lest the neat be too intense, and the ivory scale, or become brittle.
....."


Read more: Ivory

If ivory were to be made more pliable by soaking it in vinegar, is it possible it could be "rolled" together with the silver overlay to form the shape?
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Lisa

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nutmegr

Posts: 57
Registered: Jun 2005

iconnumber posted 03-30-2014 09:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for nutmegr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just a brief update.

I found one very similar ink eraser, in the collection of the Cooper-Hewitt museum. It looks like similar acid-etched silver, in the same shape, but over mother-of-pearl instead of "ivory." It is listed as being made c1900.


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Lisa

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Richard Kurtzman
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Posts: 755
Registered: Aug 2000

iconnumber posted 03-31-2014 01:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is most likely a silver overlay process.

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