5 Silversmiths I’d Like to Have Coffee With

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You know that theoretical question…if you could invite any four people from history to dinner who would it be?

This is my version, I’d ask a silversmith.

Instead of dinner and trying to speak with all of these amazing silversmiths at one time, I’d like to have a coffee with each of them individually. This way I get to sneak in my fifth person!

Let’s set the scene.

As it’s been a horrid, cold winter here, I’m imagining a warm spring day. Sunny, but not too hot, just a slight breeze.  Sitting on my terrace looking out over bright daffodils and green grass. A nice tray with drinks and a few delicious goodies – perhaps some hazelnut & chocolate biscotti and a few lemon squares. Nice pieces of silver to serve the nibbles with. Oh, comfy chairs too. Alright, I think we are set.

So who would I invite?

1. Andrew Fogelberg

Little is known about Andrew Fogelberg before he come to London in the 1760’s. He was Scandinavian, likely Swedish as he made provisions in his will to his sister and a nephew who were in Sweden. Fogelberg was most active in the late 18th century, well known for his fine quality work done in the high neo-classical style of the era. He was also the master to whom Paul Storr was apprenticed. Paul Storr is one of the best known of the early 19th century silversmiths.

Fogelberg intrigues me personally because I have the enormous luck to own one of his pieces. It is a trefid spoon.

My trefid spoon is absolutely gorgeous and quite a puzzle. One day, I need to spend some time unravelling its story.

  1. It was made in 1791, long after trefids were popular.
  2. It is goldwashed – not just on the bowl but the entire piece, front and back. I have never seen anything like it in person.
  3. There is no monogram – nor any evidence of a removal.
  4. It was undoubtedly an expensive piece.  It is large and very heavy, containing lots of sterling, by 1791 Fogelberg was well established and sought after, and I doubt the goldwash was a free upgrade!

Andrew Fogelberg, London, 1791. Here it is in all it's glory.

Would you like to see another stunning example of his work?

I stumbled upon this teapot the other day. It is simply incredible.

2. Thomas Chawner

“The most important dynasty of English spoon makers began in the mid-18th Century with Thomas Chawner. This group of silversmiths, along with the Bateman family, dominated spoon production in the late 18th & early 19th Centuries.” Quoted from Antique Silver Spoons in the UK.

Again, my intrigue is a personal one, based on ownership of several pieces of English silver bearing his mark – sometimes alone and other times in combination with a partner. The survival of these quotidian pieces over hundreds of years endlessly fascinates me. Spoons are not like candelabra or large pieces of hollowware which don’t tend to get moved around a lot. They get used and are subject to repetitive motions that cause wear.

My very favorite piece from the Chawner group was made in 1776 (a catchy date). It is engraved D ● P.  Whether it was DP or someone else in the 200 plus years since this spoon was made, I love this piece because someone was very serious about getting every last drop of food off their plate. The front/top edge of the bowl is worn on the left side from being scraped against the plate or bowl. Furthermore, having the wear on the left side means that person was right-handed, as I’m a leftie that strikes me each time I use this spoon.

 

My favorite spoon. Who was DP? Was DP the person who wore away the edge of the bowl?

 

DP, I wish I knew more about you.

 

I'd love a time lapse video showing how long this took to happen.

3. Hester Bateman

Yes, I know its a bit of a cliche for me to add Hester to this list. But as one of the relatively few women silversmith’s of the time and one who’s work is well-known, I just can’t leave her off.

I don’t have a piece by Hester – although I plan on rectifying that situation at some point.

Remember the quote from Antique Silver Spoons about Chawner AND the Bateman family dominating spoon production. “Dominating spoon production” – wow, that was akin to being a big box store today. Although I suspect most big box store items bought today will not be in good working order in 200 years.  Just a hunch.

A bit more about Silversmith Hester Bateman.

4.  Jacob Hurd

I saw an episode of Antiques Roadshow a few weeks ago in which a woman turned up with a piece of silver by Jacob Hurd.  Hurd was one of the most influential of the early Boston silversmiths (Paul Revere was the beneficiary of great PR).  I happen to be familiar with Hurd as I did some research on another of the Boston smiths for a project.

Anyway, they were showing this gorgeous milk jug on the show.  I was glued to the telly, enthralled.  Unlike most American milk jugs of the era, this one featured the most exquisite engraved decoration, very unusual.  To the stunned delight of the owner the value of the piece was estimated at $30,000-$50,000.

Here is a link to the item and the appraisal video on Antiques Roadshow.

Here is another marvelous piece by Hurd I thought you might enjoy – what do you think this teapot would be worth?

5. Alfredo Sciarrotta

Sciarrotta was the silversmith who opened my eyes to 20th century vintage silver. I confess I had not given post-WWII silver a chance, not for any particular reason, rather I was busy with older items.

Then this beauty came across my desk – meet Leaf #10.

Look at that! This is a piece that could convert even the most silver-phobic amongst us.

It bowled me over. So clean – the lines and curves. Form and function – it was love at first sight. This is one of those pieces that is very difficult to part with, but as I keep telling myself – Silver Magpies is a business and I have had the privilege of caring for these marvelous creations.

Unlike with the others, I know exactly what my first question to Mr. Sciarrotta would be. “Were you really smuggled out of Italy during World War II to assist the US with submarine technology development?”

Update: see Alfredo Sciarrotta -It’s a Small World. A fave silversmith 🙂

Do you have a Silversmith to add to the list?

I always to love hear from you.

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9 thoughts on “5 Silversmiths I’d Like to Have Coffee With

  1. IvetteNo Gravatar

    But wouldn’t it be tea for some of these dudes? That’s right, you don’t drink tea.

    I so agree on Chawner. And on Sciarotta, having seen their things thanks to you. EXQUISITE. Learned something with the other ones. I had no idea there was a female silver smith of antique silver. How sexist I am! Great post! Thank you!

  2. SilverMagpiesNo Gravatar Post author

    Hi VACluny –

    I reckon it might be gin or rum for a lot of them, I’d be willing to serve whatever they’d like!

    Glad you like Chawner, he is my personal favorite. As for Sciarrotta – I will be writing up a post about Sciarrotta’s Leaf #3 soon. Just to drive you mad with suspense 😉 the most astonishing coincidence occurred this morning about 3 minutes after I pressed publish on this post. I hope you can stand the anticipation.

  3. ellNo Gravatar

    I have two and maybe a half suggestions of whom to suggest for coffee;

    1) Clara Welles, founder of the Kalo Shop (founded in 1900 in Chicago when she was 32-years old) and the best of her Scandinavian silversmiths, Yngve Olsson – due to my love of hand wrought silver and interest in my Swedish heritage. It is amazing to me that she actually ‘started’ her own shop rather than inheriting a shop because a husband died as was the case of most women silversmith shop ‘owners’ of the time. Welles set out to establish a large shop and she did so. She and the women she hired designed the products and she hired Scandinavian immigrants to fabricate them at a time when both of these groups were shunned by many businesses. The talents honed via ‘five centuries of Swedish silver’ coupled with top notch design work made the Kalo shop a ‘…critical influence in the Arts & Crafts movement.’
    a. See : http://www.chicagosilver.com/kalo.htm for more information.

    Information on the website indicates the leather work the Kalo Shop initially produced required many of the same techniques and tools used in crafting silver pieces – they sometimes even used leather punches in their silver work! I’ve not thought before how similar leather and silver crafting actually are.

    An article on ‘five hundred years of Swedish silver’ (path attached below) explains how beneficial the Swedish and Danish guild system was to silver crafting in America as it provided extremely skilled and proven craftsmen that Clara Welles was smart enough to recognize and apparently comfortable in rising above the discrimination of the time towards the Scandinavians in America. http://www.artknowledgenews.com/Rohsska_Museum.html

    2) Any of many French silversmiths – antique French silver is so incredible, especially those monogrammed in the flowery yet understated flowing script that is often found on 19th century work. There are too many to pick through – of course, Puiforcat and Odiot are two of the most familiar in America. Henin ett Vervier is one of my favorites. Though I appreciate the skill that goes in to some of the very ornate work in antique French sterling, I prefer a more understated style that exposes more of the thick, heavy (.950) patina’d silver and the craft-person’s handwork – literally!

    .5) Lastly, I would love to chat with the smith who designed and first made Gorham’s aesthetic Narragansett oyster/clam shell dish – there was one on eBay for $800 for the 6-7 inch item that has cockle shells, seaweed, and grains of sand across the bottom of it…Wallace makes a couple but none match the Gorham one…

    Thanks for the opportunity to provide input; I learn much from you and and your articles

  4. SilverMagpiesNo Gravatar Post author

    Hello ell –

    Yes, I agree – Clara would be on my longer list. Top 15 I think for me personally.

    With French silver – I will have to defer to you 🙂 Although I will admit to a soft spot for Masion Cardielhac.

    For those of you who have not seen it, this is a similar piece to the one ell is referring to. http://cgi.ebay.com/1887-Gorham-sterling-oyster-shell-dish-Narragansett-/220735175219?pt=Antiques_Silver&hash=item3364d77a33#ht_3043wt_907

    1. ellNo Gravatar

      Here is another Gorham Narragansett oyster shell – page down to see the best photos…

      http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rt=nc&nma=true&item=370481419914&si=0JR4V82%252BGvOSGMyR2GsnD8fp4Aw%253D&viewitem=&sspagename=STRK%3AMEWAX%3AIT

      Having just received a FANTASTIC book on French Silver from 1450 to 1835 or thereabouts (book published in 1970) there are some incredible photos of aesthetic oyster shell pieces made in the 1700s for kings, queens, and such. It would be interesting to have one of those silversmiths to coffee along with the Gorham Narragansett smiths to compare the tools they used on their respective oyster shells. I’ll bet some of them haven’t changed much in the ensuing couple of centuries!

  5. SilverMagpiesNo Gravatar Post author

    ell – I’m so glad you found the other oyster. It’s brilliant.

    That sounds like a great book. I know how much you love French silver and it’s so difficult to find a book in English. Most of them have not been translated.

    I’d be willing to bet the hand tools used by silversmiths have barely changed at all!

  6. Lisa SchaussNo Gravatar

    I have a set of 6 sterling silver spoons, came out of Germany during the war stamped on the back WEIHE, with some other markings. Each spoon is slightly different in size and design which tells me they were hand made and stamped…each with the initials AS or SA on the handle. Very beautiful pieces, can you tell me anything about them.

    1. SilverMagpiesNo Gravatar Post author

      Hello Lisa –

      Welcome! I’d love to help you track down your spoons. Do you think you could send me a couple of photos?
      One of the entire front of a spoon and one showing all the marks in the back. They don’t have to be beautiful photos just so I can see the marks clearly.

      Paste them into a comment or use Contact Me! which is at the very top right hand of this page, just above the Silver Magpies logo.

      Thanks for commenting and let’s see if we can figure out those spoons!

  7. SilverMagpiesNo Gravatar Post author

    Hi Keith –

    Thanks for joining us. Is FDM exclusively a jeweler (as far as you know)? Can you tell me what city’s Assay office she uses?

    Thanks!

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