Oyster fork, part of a fifteen-piece place setting

Three-tined fork, part of a fifteen-piece place setting

1929
Designed by George Christian Gebelein (American, born in Germany, 1878–1945), Gebelein Silversmiths (1908 to about 1960)


Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Accession Number

1981.379a

Medium or Technique

Silver

Not On View

Collections

Americas

Classifications

Silver flatware

The utensil has a plain ovoid end and a downturned handle.


In addition to making contemporary pieces, Gebelein restored, replicated, bought, and sold antique silver. This intimate contact with some of the finest eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Boston silver enabled him to develop a remarkable sensitivity to historic forms. When Gebelein later reinterpreted these pieces, often enhancing them with modern flourishes, he succeeded in preserving the aesthetic integrity of the older models.
This place setting, which looks back to eighteenth-century examples, was designed by Gebelein with the assistance of Nancy Thayer (d. 1995) as part of a service for twelve made at the time of her marriage to Laurence Batchelder. The service represents every form appropriate to an elegant and fully equipped table in the early twentieth century, from individual fruit knives to oyster forks. It further reflects the refined and austere tastes of prominent Bostonians in the late 1920s. Flatware has been recognized as an important part of Gebelein’s overall production. He also retailed the flatware of other firms, such as Gorham, Reed & Barton, and Currier and Roby reproductions.

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

“B / L N” engraved on handle.

Markings

“STERLING,” “GEBELEIN” in a rectangle, and “Boston” in incuse italics struck on reverse of handle. Oyster fork is doublestruck.

Provenance

1929, commissioned from Gebelein by the anonymous donor; 1981, anonymous gift to the MFA. (Accession date: October 14, 1981)

Credit Line

Anonymous gift