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Gorham's Timely, Timeless, Decorative Silver Patterns

December 06, 1986|RALPH KOVEL and TERRY KOVEL

Silver patterns change with the style of the times. Although old patterns remain in style for generations there are always new ones made for the modern bride. In the 1860s the Neo-Classical style became popular in the United States for a short period of time. The Victorian furniture made in that style featured ancient Greek, Egyptian, and Roman designs. In 1864, Gorham Silver Co. of Providence, R.I., introduced the silver pattern called Medallion. Each piece had a round medallion on the handle, picturing a classical head. It was designed by George Wilkinson at Gorham. He was probably inspired by a similar pattern patented in 1853 by Wood & Hughes, a smaller silver company.

The original pattern had oval, not round medallions. Gorham also made serving dishes with a medallion head as part of the decoration. The Neo-Classical dishes had trim that looked like Greek borders or handles that were three-dimensional figures of lions, cupids, or birds. One clever style vegetable dish was made with a removable handle. The top cover could be turned upside down and used as another serving dish. The designers even included small protrusions on the top that appeared decorative but were actually useful feet when the top became a dish. The Neo-Classical designs and Medallion pattern were out of style by the 1880s. There is renewed interest in them again.

Question: My vase is very old. It is marked with RW in a diamond topped by a crown. Where was it made?

Answer: New York & Rudolstadt Pottery worked in Rudolstadt, Germany, from 1882 to 1918. The company used the crown-RW mark from about 1887.

Q: I am interested in furnishing my home with Shaker antiques. Some are authentic and some are copies that I am making. Did the Shakers use any special colors for the walls or the furniture?

A: The Shakers are a religious sect that started in America in 1774. The followers of Ann Lee came to America and started a sect that grew to thousands of people in 18 communities. They led a simple, celibate life. Orphan children were taken into the communities. The Shakers sold their goods to the outside world but tried to remain separate. They lived in large buildings in a communal society, devoted to work and worship. Possessions were unimportant. The Shaker furniture, baskets, and fabrics we admire today were made to be simple, and useful. Extra decoration was unwanted.

Although natural finish was preferred, paint was used to protect the wood. The buildings were painted according to a color code. White was used for the meetinghouse, red or yellow for the work buildings or houses. Inside walls were white-washed with dark blue-painted wood trim. The furniture was usually stained brown, yellow, red, mahogany, or painted red-orange, blue-green, olive-green, dark blue, or yellow. The tape seats were also very colorful. The famous Shaker boxes were painted in many bright colors ranging from yellow to orange to red to black. They even had multicolor rugs. For the exact colors used for Shaker furniture see the catalogue of a recent exhibit at the Whitney Museum in New York. "Shaker Design" is filled with descriptions and color pictures ($20, 945 Madison Ave. New York, N.Y. 10021).

Q: I have a water stain on my piano that I discovered after a party. How can I remove it?

A: If your water stain was on a table we might suggest you try to remove it by rubbing cigarette ashes and salad oil on the spot. We do not recommend any do-it-yourself refinishing on a piano. Call a professional at a music store and ask to have the ring removed.


(Current prices are recorded from antique sales, shows, flea markets and auctions throughout the United States. These prices vary in different locations because of the conditions of the economy.)

Dick Tracy coloring book, Saalfield, unused, 1940, $20.

Sterling silver button hook, matching shoe horn, repousse, mums, $40.

Horsman doll, Peggy, black, 1950s, $75.

Brush McCoy cookie jar, hippo with monkey on back, $95.

Ansonia mantel clock, black marble, four pillars, brass trim, escapement in dial, 1881 pattern, $145.

Bookends, Heisey, fish, $185.

Wedding gown, tiered ruffled petticoat, white batiste and lace, demi-train, 1880, size 5, $250.

Stereoviewer, table top, 2 sides, wood, Becker, $445.

Slant front desk, Federal, inlaid mahogany, rectangular lid, 2 short and 3 long cock-beaded drawers, shaped inlaid skirt, French feet, 39 1/2 by 43 by 20 in., $950.

Fireboard, painted, pictures vase of flowers in center, early l9th Century, 27 5/8 by 38 inches, $10,450.

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