Gorham's 'white gold' flatware

We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Samuel J. Hough in the preparation of this article. Collectors with other examples of Gorham’s nineteenth-century ivory or ivory-handled flatware are invited to communicate with any of the authors (e-mail addresses given on the next page). Additional illustrations of Gorham nineteenth-century ivory-handled flatware can be found online under the title of this article at

1 W. E.Burghardt Du Bois, The World and Africa: An Inquiry into the Part which Africa Has Played in World History (Viking Press, New York, 1947), p. 69.
2 British Cutlery: An Illustrated History of Its Design, Evolution and Use, ed. Peter Brown (Philip Wilson Publishers, London, 2001), p. 87. Numerous examples of ivory-handled flatware from the fourteenth to the twentieth centuries are illustrated in this work.
3 William P. Hood Jr., John R. Olson, and Charles S. Curb, “Whiting’s Ivory Flatware,” Silver Magazine, vol.33 (January–February 2001), pp. 22–27; and William P. Hood Jr., Richard A. Kurtzman, John R. Olson, and Charles S. Curb, “Whiting’s Ivory Flatware Revisited,” ibid., vol.38 (January–February 2006), pp. 26–34.
4 William P. Hood Jr., with Roslyn Berlin and Edward Wawrynek, Tiffany Silver Flatware, 1845–1905: When Dining Was an Art (Antique Collectors’ Club, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2000), p. 255.
5 The Gorham Company archives are in Special Collections, John Hay Library, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. Information extracted from the archives is reproduced in this article with permission of the Hay Library.
6 Charles H. Carpenter Jr., Gorham Silver, rev. ed. (Alan Wofsy Fine Arts, San Francisco, 1997), p. 73.
7 See D. Albert Soeffing, Silver Medallion Flatware (New Books, New York, 1988), pp. 50–51, 100–101.
8 Gorham’s model numbers were not necessarily chronological or sequential. Nor were they exclusive, and so might be reused for totally unrelated items.
9 Angelo is a silver-handledpattern that was introduced in April 1874 (flatware cost book 2, pp. 37–40, 57, Gorham archives).
10 Related friezelike decoration was used on Gorham’s silver-handled number 205sugar sifter and nut/berry spoon, introduced c. 1880–1884 (ibid., p. 73). For photographs see http://www.smpub.com/ubb/
Forum13/HTML/594.html (accessed January 7, 2008). Five other pieces shared the 205 model number (cake knife, ice cream knife, pie knife, punch ladle, and paper cutter), and they probably had similar decoration (we have not seen examples).
11 Flatware cost book 2, p. 29. Cost book entries itemize production costs, and these 1878 entries reflect different production costs at each of the new dates.
12 For English examples of such fish slices, see Benton Seymour Rabinovitch, Antique Silver Servers for the Dining Table (Joslin Hall Publishing, Concord, Mass., 1991), pp. 156–165.
13 Gorham acquired Whiting in 1905, moved it from New York to Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1912, and closed the Bridgeport facility in 1924; Samuel J. Hough (who originally inventoried the Gorham archives) to William P. Hood Jr., e-mail, February 27, 2008.
14 The patent was granted on March 24, 1891 (design no. 20,636). Interestingly, the application describes and illustrates the functional end and handle base of only one piece—called in the text a “salad spoon,” although the design drawing for it (in one of the authors’ collection) is labeled a “berry spoon” (and the salad spoon has a completely different bowl). There is not even a hint in the application that the handle will be of ivory.
15 For numerous examples of British fish or cake trowels with bosses, see Rabinovitch, Antique Silver Servers for the Dining Table, chap. 3.
16 Ibid., p. 53, Fig. 20; p. 55, Fig. 26; p. 59, Fig. 28.
17 For Gorham’s datemarks, see Carpenter, Gorham Silver, pp. 230–231. Gorham stamped date letters or symbols routinely on silver hollowware, occasionally on not full-line flatware, and almost never on full-line flatware.
18 “Chafing Dish Cookery,” in Alan Davidson, The Oxford Companion to Food (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1999), pp. 154–l55.
19 “Students of the Chafing Dish. Brooklyn Women Learn How to Serve Delicious Meals,” New York Times, June 10, 1894.
20 H. M. Kinsley, One Hundred Recipes for the Chafing Dish, 2nd ed. (New York, 1894), reprinted with an introduction and suggested recipes by Louis Szathmáry (Creative Cookbooks, Amsterdam, 2001).
21 Gorham embarked on a new numbering system for its patterns and models in 1898. The new series was given the prefix “H.” Some designs were dropped, some added. In the case of 810 it was continued but as H810. The 810 chafing-dish spoon is one of the items illustrated in Kinsley, One Hundred Recipes for the Chafing Dish, p. 125.
22 See Don Malcarne, Edith DeForest, and Robbi Storms, Deep River and Ivoryton (Arcadia, Charleston, S. C., 2002).
23 Derek Wilson and Peter Ayerst, White Gold: The Story of African Ivory (Taplinger, New York, 1976), p. 19.
24 Abdul Sheriff, Slaves, Spices, and Ivory in Zanzibar (James Curry, London, and Ohio University Press, Athens, 1987), p. 104.Nagana and African sleeping sickness are caused by trypanosomes (animal parasites, specifically protozoa of the genus Trypanosoma) transmitted by the bite of the tsetse fly. It so happens that man is less susceptible to the disease than are cattle, horses, and camels.
25 For in-depth discussions of the interconnection between the ivory trade and the slave trade, see Edward A. Alpers, Ivory and Slaves: Changing Pattern of International Trade in East Central Africa to the Later Nineteenth Century (University of California Press, Berkeley, 1975); and Wilson and Ayerst, White Gold.

WILLIAM P. HOOD JR. is a retired cardiologist and former university professor (Bhood2000@aol.com).

DALE E. BENNETT is a retired pathologist and former medical school professor (Drdaleb@aol.com).

RICHARD A. KURTZMAN is an antiques dealer (rak11@comcast.net).

by Émile Jacques Ruhlmann (1879-1933), 1926. Macassar ebony, amaranth, and ivory. Metropolitan Museum of Art. By Cynthia Drayton

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