Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Book Review: The Elegance of Old Silverplate and Some Personalities Edmund P. Hogan

I managed to get a copy of The Elegance of Old Silverplate and Some Personalities.  This book was written by Edmund P. Hogan and published in 1980 by Schiffer Publishing Ltd.  This is a pretty fantastic book.  Hogan covers the industry and industrial methods of silver plate in the first part stressing the amount of hand work that went into a piece. He focuses on the Victorian period which is considered by many to be the height of artistic silver plate production. Not in quantity but in quality and the unusual nature of the pieces.
The rest of the book separates out particular items with a brief commentary about use and history.  Hogan provides lots of representative pictures, showing high and lower grade wares. This is something that many books on silver leave out. They tend to focus on only exemplary examples while Hogan provides a variety.  Among the pictures are reprints of catalogue pages many of them from catalogues that are inaccessible to the average person.
The sections he covers are as follows:
Hand Chasing
            Hogan examines the way that silverplate was designed and hand worked in a factory setting. I feel that understanding this helps in identifying pieces because recognizing quality work means less reliance on marks to identify a time period and quality grade.
Sculpture for the Fairs
            Like Moskowitz Hogan covers the ways that fairs helped to drive trade and create a public for wares.
The first section is listed as Tablewares
Call Bells
Napkin Rings
Ice Pitchers
Butter Dishes
Dinner Casters
Pickle Casters
Cracker or Biscuit Jars
Nut and Fruit Bowls (or as many know them Brides baskets though there is a separate category for these)
Tea Sets
Spoon Holders (Spooners)
Oddities (spittoons, tooth pick holders, match safes, self pouring teapot, sardine boxes, celery stands, pepper boxes, mustache cups, mustache spoons and orange peelers)
Vintage Flatware (Primarily focusing on Vintage pattern, types of quality marks, unusual pieces and types of knives)
Children’s Silverware.
The second section is listed as Housewares.
            Card Receivers
            Jewel Caskets
            Brides Baskets
            Oil Lamps
            Lavatory sets
            Toilet Stands
            Toilet ware (brushes, combs, button hooks, mirrors, puff boxes)
The third sections are brief biographies on personalities in the silver industry.
             Ashbil Griswold
            W.W. Lyman
            The Rogers Brothers
            Joseph Bourne

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