The December 14 Art, Antiques and Jewelry Auction includes a large selection of silver and decorative arts, including a gorgeous Martele silver bowl and examples of Reed and Barton’s popular "Diamond Pattern" flatware and hollowware.
Martele is an exclusive line of hand-wrought silver produced by Gorham Silver Company of Providence, Rhoad Island from 1896 – the 1930’s. Named for the French word for hammer, the tool with which it was created, each piece of Martele silver was individually designed, hand raised (formed) and chased (addition of decorative elements). Each piece was extremely labor intensive, and also, unique. (Example, above: Lot 81, est. $4,000 – 6,000)
Inspired by the ideas behind the English Arts and Crafts Movement, a reaction against the mass produced household objects popular at the time, Gorham’s chief executive Edward Holbrook and his head designer, Englishman William Christmas Codman officially launched the brand to critical success at the Exposition Universalle in Paris in 1900. Ironically, it was the success of the company’s machine-made lines that subsidized and made this exclusive, hand-made line possible.
The Martele line includes a wide selection of items: coffee services, vases, candelabras, tankards, platters, bowls, cups jewelry, etc. The shapes and designs of Martele pieces were most often in the Art Nouveau style, with organic forms adorned with female figures and floral and leaf patterns. Because so many pieces were produced as special orders, however, there are several examples of Martele silver with unique and unusual design motifs.
The silver used in the production of Martele pieces (950/1000 parts of silver) was more pure than sterling (925/1000 parts of silver), because the purer metal is easier to work by hand. The resulting pieces are heavier than those made using sterling, which is one identifying quality. Each piece is also marked with the word martele, the Gorham hallmark, the grade of silver and an identifying item code.
Reed & Barton’s “Diamond Pattern” silver is a must-have for serious collectors of Modern Design. The line, which was made up of both hollowware and flatware, was introduced in 1958.
“Diamond Pattern” hollowware was designed by master metalsmith John Prip. An American who grew up in Denmark, Prip is known for combining the formal, technical traditions of Danish design with an American desire for innovation. (Example, above left: Lot 52, est. $2,000 – 3,000)
The preliminary design for “Diamond Pattern” flatware was completed by the Italian icon of Modern Design, Gio Ponti. The line perfectly demonstrates the clean, simple lines, graceful angularity, and balanced weightiness which characterize Ponti’s signature style. (Example, above right: Lot 53, est. $3,000 – 4,000)