Tangible Good

Mark the difference…between the supine conservatism of the English [silver] manufacturers and the alertness and constant progress of the American maker. For instance [Gorham] would not be satisfied unless it produced every year or two new patterns, nearly all of which are beautiful, and of which they will produce a complete service of all articles for table use from a salt-spoon to a soup ladle.

London Magazine of Art, 1886

In the heyday of American silver, roughly 1850-1940, manufacturers on this continent astonished their European rivals and international customers with both the quality and proliferation of their products.  At the center of this industry was a New England firm established in 1831 by Jabez Gorham.

During its first decade and a half, the firm prospered, basing its reputation on fine jewelry and coin silver.  The great leap came after 1847 when Jabez’ son John assumed the leadership of the firm. …

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