Gorham Silver – An American Classic

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Since 1831, when it was founded, the Gorham Company of Providence, Rhode Island, has grown from a small shop making coin silver spoons to the largest maker of sterling silverwares in the world by the beginning of the twenty century. In addition to Gorham's commercial silverwares, the company made a line of innovative art wares. The company also made thimbles, combs, jewelry, and other small items. In 1842, a tariff which effectively blocked the importation of silverware from outside the United States was passed, this aided the American silver industry. In 1852 Gorham toured many of Europe's silver workshops and manufacturers, speaking with individual specialists, including master craftsmen and toolmakers.

In 1890 the company relocated to a factory on Adelaide Avenue in Providence. John Gorham (1820-1898), president of the company from 1848 until 1878, (20) made trips to Europe in 1852 and 1860 to buy steam-powered equipment and to hire craftsmen; he also bought finished items for resale. The company was purchased by Textron in 1967, a move that some critics claim decreed quality due to management's lack of understanding of Gorham's specialty, producing high-quality sterling silverware and holloware.

Gorham was owned by Brown-Forman Corporation from 1991 to 2005 until it was sold to Department 56 in the Lenox holdings transaction. Today the company is still known for its excellent quality and has a world class reputation.

John Gorham quickly recognized the advantages of machinery and as a result his company was the first to introduce factory methods to augment hand craftmanship in production of silverware. Gorham's familiar trademark was used as early as 1848 and from 1848 to 1865 the lion faced left rather than right. Gorham artists sculptured the famous monument of George Washington in the Capitol's Rotunda, the statue of Theodore Roosevelt that overlooks the Museum of Natural History in New York, and the famous "Independent Man" which tops Rhode Island's state house. The White House has used Gorham silver services during many administrations. The Gorham company has been noted for the fine quality of its die work as well as superior design and fine finishing of all products. Gorham is an excellent maker and its fine products are always bought by collectors.

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Source by Scott Bailey