Unger Brothers ( American, 1872 - 1919 )
- c. 1900–1910
Inspired by European periodicals, trade catalogues, and imported objects, a relatively large number of American silver firms were working in the art nouveau style by 1900. In the 1910s, the Newark firm Unger Brothers, and its designer Philemon Dickinson, produced some of the most provocative art nouveau designs in a wide range of relatively inexpensive die-stamped silverware. The forms of such objects often undulated in concert with decoration.
The images of a partially nude female, as seen on this ashtray, and a woman smoking (1991.101.15) would have been considered risqué by many Americans. Nevertheless, the Unger Brothers firm made an extensive line of such stamped wares. It is possible they were intended for male consumers.
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), 253 and 349.