Miniature ladder-back chair

Miniature silver side chair, part of set

1895–97
Arthur Stone (American, born in England, 1847–1938), Retailed by Howard & Company (1866 to about 1922)


Object Place: New York, New York, United States

Dimensions

Overall: 3.6 x 1.9 x 1.7 cm (1 7/16 x 3/4 x 11/16 in.)

Accession Number

1979.188

Medium or Technique

Silver

On View

Lorraine and Alan Bressler Gallery (Gallery 222)

Collections

Americas

Classifications

Silver

Fashioned after a turned ladder-back rush-seat chair, the diminutive model was hand formed from twisted and articulated rods and chased and cut sheets of silver that were then soldered together.


Arthur Stone created miniature toys and silverware throughout his career. A comparison of the early less-restrained pieces made during his short-lived partnership with J. P. Howard & Company of New York, as well as the later miniatures designed for his own shop, reveals a notable contrast in aesthetic sensibilities. Stone’s taste was for simple lines and chaste decoration. Howard offered more than 180 patterns in his line of “solid silver toys,” seventy-five of which he marketed in an 1895 brochure entitled “Novelties for Christmas.” The catalogue encouraged would-be buyers to start or expand their own collections, noting the centuries-old tradition in Holland of passing down large miniature collections. In offering an
eighteenth-century-style two-handled cup, Howard may have been capitalizing on the appeal of heirlooms, just as Stone did with his mid-eighteenth-century-style tankard. Despite the diminutive size, great pride was taken in the skill and quality of production. Howard claimed that his miniatures were indestructible and far superior to the stamped antique versions; some pieces, such as Stone’s candlesnuffer and tea caddy, even had moving workable parts.

This text has been adapted from “Silver of the Americas, 1600-2000,” edited by Jeannine Falino and Gerald W.R. Ward, published in 2008 by the MFA. Complete references can be found in that publication.

Inscription

None.

Markings

"STERLING [upside down] / HOWARD & CO." struck on underside of seat

Provenance

Arthur and Elizabeth Bent Stone estate to their companion Annie E. Priest (1872-1972)l by descent to Alma Bent (about 1921-92), Stone cousin; 1979, gift of Alma Bent to the MFA

Credit Line

Gift of Miss Alma Bent