Times & Places

Space Age Silver

Space Age imagery entered the cold war design vocabulary after the Soviet Union launched the satellite Sputnik in 1957. A short time afterward formal and metaphoric references to the zeitgeist began to appear in American industrial silverware and other products. The fascination with space in popular culture grew in the years between Sputnik and the moon landing in 1969. During this period silver manufacturers continued to incorporate elements into their designs that resonated with space imagery or suggested it. Gorham and International seized the moment and produced the most spectacular silver by their staff designers. They were Gorham's atomic-inspired USS Long Beach service and International's cosmic Moon Room display, aglow with unique pieces of futuristic silver, at the New York World's Fair in 1964. In production silver, pitchers for stirring drinks eclipsed the cocktail shaker and became the Atomic Age party accessory. Another shift in silver design was the introduction in the 1960s of brightly colored finishes to the interior surfaces of holloware, a phenomenon prompted by contemporary Scandinavian imports, and one that persisted until the early 1980s at Reed & Barton, the innovator in the field.

Excerpt from

Jewel Stern. Charles Veneble and Kevin Tucker, ed. Modernism in American Silver: 20th Century Design. New Haven: Yale University Press. 2005. 254.