Martelé entree dish

MAKER:
Designer

William C. Codman ( British, 1839 - 1921 )


Chaser

George W. Sauthof ( German, 1852 - 1927 )


Manufacturer

Gorham Manufacturing Company ( American, 1831 )


Retailer

Spaulding & Company ( American, 1888 )

DATE:
1910
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General Description

At the 1900 Paris World’s Fair, Gorham Manufacturing Company introduced a limited production line of handwrought wares named Martelé, the French word for "hammered." In the spirit of the British Arts and Crafts movement, each Martelé design was raised, chased, and finished by hand, processes evident in conspicuous hammer marks. While Gorham utilized methods of production based on 19th-century precepts, it rejected styles of the past in favor of a fashion that evoked the new century: Art Nouveau. Chief Designer William C. Codman and other designers applied Art Nouveau details, such as exuberant handles and everted feet and lips with undulating edges, and decorations, such as organic ornament, to traditional forms at once progressive, yet palatable to conservative American consumers.

By 1910, demand for Martelé had declined due to prohibitive prices and changes in dining rituals. As a result, Gorham minimized costs, particularly hours of labor, in order to decrease prices and thus increase sales. In the case of this entree dish, the factory cost was $105 and the retail price was $210, considerably less than what a comparable piece would have fetched around 1900.

Adapted from

  • Charles L. Venable, Silver in America, 1840-1940: A Century of Splendor (Dallas, Texas: Dallas Museum of Art; New York, New York; Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1994), 251-258.

  • DMA unpublished material.

  • Samuel J. Hough, "Report on Gorham Martelé 14-inch Entrée Dish UEL" (undated, in Collections Records Object File)

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