Martelé Punchbowl

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Martelé Punchbowl

Martelé punchbowl, Gorham Manufacturing Company, Providence, Rhode Island, 1897.

Silver; width 19 ½ inches.

Copyright Christie's Images Ltd. 2009.


The Gorham Manufacturing Company was founded in 1831 and became one of the largest and most successful silverware manufacturers in the United States. This punch bowl is among the earliest examples from the firm's Martelé line, which was initiated by Gorham's chief designer, William Christmas Codman, in 1896.  


Inspired by English arts and crafts design reform, Codman trained Gorham's workers in eighteenth-century silversmithing techniques that utilized hand raising instead of industrialized processes. In French martelé means hammered and refers to the process of manufacturing for this line which was done by hand using only a hammer and chaser.


Early Martelé silver was made using silver of the sterling standard (.925 fine silver) but later .950 fine silver or higher was used, which made the material more malleable.


At the Paris World's Fair of 1900 Gorham won the Grand Prix for its designs, which included a solid silver Martelé dressing table with mirror and stool; according to Gorham's records the set took 2,332 hours to make, weighed 1,253 troy ounces, and cost $10,000 to produce. This punch bowl took 225 hours to complete and cost $400 to produce.


Advanced by trade with China and the West Indies, punch became popular in England in the early seventeenth century as a highly potent communal drink traditionally composed of rum, lemon, nutmeg, sugar, and water.

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Porcelain Tray

Estimate: $150 - $300 (FMV)

Listed By: Stephanie Retz

Location: Providence, RI

Estimate By: Jorge Luis González

The thick potting, simple decoration, small size and deep shape of the tray would indicate late 18th or early 19th century continental manufacture.

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