Karl F. Leinonen (Born in Finland, 1866–1957), Handicraft Shop (active 1901–1940)

Object Place: Boston or Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts, United States


4 x 15.1 x 10.9 cm (1 9/16 x 5 15/16 x 4 5/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View




Silver hollowware

The small raised vessel has sides extending outward and rising to an everted lip, with a small dome at center. The cast handle is soldered at right angles to the rim. There is a dent in the body near the foot and several smaller ones near the engraving.

Boston established a reputation during the first decades of the twentieth century for small-scale workshops producing high-quality silver hollowware. Handicraft Shop was one such cooperative, established under the aegis of the Society of Arts and Crafts, Boston. The brief relocation of the studio to the pastoral remove of Wellesley Hills in 1903 was likely inspired by British craftsman C. R. Ashbee’s Guild of Handicraft, which had relocated the previous year from London to rural Chipping Campden. Early shop members included George Christian Gebelein, whose work favored the colonial-revival style, Seth Ek, F. J. R. Gyllenberg, Mary C. Knight, and C. G. Forssen.
Shop member Karl Leinonen was born in Åbo, Finland, where he apprenticed for five years and worked five more as a silversmith before immigrating to Boston in 1893. He joined Handicraft Shop when it was founded in 1901 and became a long-standing member, serving as supervisor. He created work independently as well as with other members, including Ek, Knight, and his son K. Edwin Leinonen. Noting in his 1906 membership form that he worked “whit out machinery,” Karl Leinonen was elected a craftsman of the society in 1901 and in 1918 was elected a medalist, its highest honor.
Leinonen was an active participant in the era’s exhibitions, beginning with the 1904 St. Louis Exposition, in which he collaborated with Knight on a range of flatware, salt cellars, and a child’s silver mug. He showed his work independently at several exhibitions held by the Art Institute of Chicago; as late as 1930, he and his son K. Edwin, exhibiting together as Karl F. Leinonen and Son, were listed in the exhibition held at Boston’s Horticultural Hall. Although Leinonen did not teach formally, artist L. Cora Brown (1859 – 1937) of Concord attended private silversmithing lessons in his studio.
The porringer demonstrates Leinonen’s blending of the Colonial Revival style with the aesthetic of his Scandinavian homeland. Porringers were a popular form in colonial America and were briefly revived during the Arts and Crafts period. Unlike colonial porringers, whose convex sides are evenly rounded and feature keyhole-style handles, the walls of Leinonen’s porringer swell below the rim and angle inward toward the base in a manner reminiscent of Chicago’s Kalo Shop. The combination of old and new can also be discerned in the stylized handle, which owes a debt to the modern Neoclassical style pioneered by Danish craftsman Georg Jensen (1866 – 1935), even as the engraved initials, in shaded roman capitals, harken back to the colonial taste.

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.


"G [pellet] W [pellet] F" in shaded roman letters on side of vessel opposite handle.


Handicraft shop mark "H [anvil] S" under porringer at center. "L" in roman letter and "STERLING" in sans serif letters, both stamped, incuse, under handle near joining at body.


Original owner unknown. Estate of Mrs. Mason H. Stone, formerly of Boston, sold by Sanders & Mock Associates, of Moultonboro, New Hampshire, about 1988 to Mrs. Gardiner Greene (Eleanor Gebelein) of Laconia, New Hampshire, and acquired by the Museum in 1991.

Credit Line

American Decorative Arts Curator's Fund