Friday, August 26, 2005

Polished silver favored for luxurious serving pieces

I came across an interesting article today, written by Ralph & Terry Kovel. The article begins with stating that for centuries, smooth, polished silver was the metal favored by customers for luxurious and expensive silver serving pieces.

But all of that changed by the late 1800's during the Art Nouveau and the Arts & Crafts movement, when silversmiths began searching for a new, creative ways to express themselves using silver.

Unusual and expensive pieces, many with a hand-hammered surfaces, began to appear. Hand-wrought work was suddenly popular!

Gorham Co. (Providence, Rhode Island) was in the forefront of hammered silver hollowware items, although they still produced their older conventional silver pieces. Many of Gorham Silver's bowls and other holloware items began to appear with applied decorative metalwork of silver, bronze or copper. Interiors were gilded with gold, as were handles and the decorations themselves. The Japanese influence became the basis for many of their designs.

Just a few years into this new design movement, Gorham was producing a line of hand-made copper pieces with a reddish-brown finish - the well known copper color! A new hand-made line of holloware items, called Martele, was now all the rage. Martele was made of high-grade silver, with decidedly Art Nouveau designs such as twisting vines, leaves, flowers, and other flowing shapes.

When the Art Deco period came into being in the 1920's, collectors all but forgot about the intricate and beautiful Art Nouveau designed pieces. Finally, in the 1980's, collectors once again became interested in the Art Nouveau and hand-hammered designs and the prices began to rise once again.