Artists & Designers

Gorham Manufacturing Company (founded 1831)

Once the largest and one of the most successful silver firms, Gorham Manufacturing Company was founded in 1831 by Jabez Gorham (1792-1869), a native of Providence, Rhode Island who completed a seven-year apprenticeship to Nehemiah Dodge. His first venture following the completion of his apprenticeship was a partnership with Christopher Burr, William Hadwen, George C. Clark, and Harvey G. Mumford known as "The Firm," which produced jewelry including the popular "Gorham chain" between 1815 and 1818. In 1831, Jabez Gorham and Henry Webster founded Gorham & Webster, a manufacturing company that specialized in coin silver spoons. The company name changed to Gorham, then Webster & Price in 1837 when William G. Price became a partner, and to J. Gorham & Son when Jabez Gorham's son John Gorham (1820-1898) joined the company.

John Gorham expanded the company by establishing a larger manufactory and introducing factory methods and steam-powered machines, many of which he designed. In 1850, two years following Jabez Gorham's 1848 retirement, John Gorham's cousin Gorham Thuber became a partner and, consequently, the company name changed to Gorham & Thuber. By 1852, it was Gorham & Company. By, 1865, it was Gorham Manufacturing Company. During the late 19th century, the company produced wares in a variety of revival and international styles, including those produced for exhibition at world's fairs. Gorham received numerous awards for their designs, including the Grand Prix at the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris for the Art Nouveau Martelé line designed by chief designer William C. Codman (1839-1921). In addition to one-of-a-kind designs, the company also produced mass-produced lines, such as Chantilly, the most popular line of flatware ever made.

During the 20th century, the company hired other important designers, including Erik Magnussen (1884-1961), who introduced designs in an Art Deco style. While production slowed during World War II, it resumed in the 1950s. The company purchased Quaaker Silver Company in 1959, Friedman Company in 1960, and Graff, Washbourne & Dunn in 1961, when its name changed to Gorham Corporation. Now based in Lawrenceville, New Jersey as well as Providence, Rhode Island, Gorham Corporation's brands include Lenox, Dansk, and Brooks Bentley.

Drawn from

  • Gerald W. R. Ward, "Gorham," Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online, Oxford University Press, accessed February 20, 2015, http://www.oxfordartonline.com/subscriber/article/grove/art/T033347.
  • Dorothy T. Rainwater, Martin Fuller, and Colette Fuller, Encyclopedia of American Silver Manufacturers (Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd, 2004), 90-92.
  • DMA COLLECTION SMARTPHONE TOUR 2012 (file: collections_2012_gorham.mp3)

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