Teakettle on stand

1874–1878
Gorham Manufacturing Company (active 1865–1961)


Object Place: Providence, Rhode Island, United States

Dimensions

34.6 x 15.7 x 23 cm (13 5/8 x 6 3/16 x 9 1/16 in.)

Accession Number

1990.466a-c

Medium or Technique

Silver

Not On View

Collections

Americas

Classifications

Silver hollowware

This elliptical straight-sided teakettle on stand was formed from sheets of soldered silver. There are molded reedlike horizontal bands at the kettle’s base, lid, spout, and handle, which are echoed in narrower bands on the spherical cast finial and feet. The spout has an applied rim that flares at the bottom and forms an inverted lip at the top. The stand has applied cross-banding on the vertical kettle supports, which are screwed to the base. The spirit lamp, which fits into an opening in the base, has a spun hinged cover and seamed friction-fitting wick holder. The main body of the lamp was cast and has an applied band. The insulators on the handle are made of ivory.
The kettle was made in 1874, the lamp in 1876, and the stand in 1878, according to the date marks.


Soon after the opening of Japan to foreign trade in 1853, Japanese woodblock prints, watercolors, architectural details, and pattern books entered the libraries of American silver manufacturers, inspiring designers to create a sumptuous body of silver in the Japanesque style, popular from the 1860s to the 1880s. Intended as part of a matching set, this teakettle on stand, with its Japanese-inspired bamboo ties, is one of at least ten variations produced by Gorham in the mid-1870s. The austere simplicity contrasts with the more lavish silver made in America in the Japanese taste. It is nearly unique in an era that favored ornamental eclecticism and has been described as anticipating the streamline moderne look of the 1930s by more than fifty years.
Cost records for this model survive, providing information on the time and division of labor required for its fabrication. Silversmithing required sixty-seven hours, plus two and one-half hours for spinning. Cast elements took one and two-thirds hours. Finishing of the kettle and stand included five hours of stoning, four hours of bobbing, and six hours of burnishing, resulting in the superb surface it has retained. The projected cost was $180.40: $82.35 for the silver and just under $100 for labor. The record further documents that the ivory insulators cost $1.

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

"1040" above pellet and a lion passant hallmark, an anchor hallmark, and a "G" in Gothic script, with "STERLING / K" below, all struck on bottom of teakettle; "S" struck on handle, close to spout, directly above insulators. "G" above a lion passant hallmark, an anchor hallmark and a "G" in Gothic script, above "STERLING," all struck on bottom of burner. An upside-down "I" and "STERLING" struck on lamp, inside rim of top.

Provenance

Early history unknown; purchased from Historical Design, New York City.

Credit Line

Marion E. Davis Fund