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Erik Magnussen Designed for Gorham 'Modern American' Art Deco Sterling Silver Centerpiece Bowl, Providence, RI, 1928

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This important centerpiece bowl is a very rare example of American art deco silver. Based on 'skyscraper' designs, the round, stepped base on four pad feet creates a dramatic foundation for the demi-hemispherical bowl. Bold form is accentuated by deeply incised vertical and horizontal lines. The shapes, design and scale are exceptional. According to a report by Sam Hough derived from the Gorham Archives, only 24 of these bowls were ever made. One is in the collection of the Dallas Museum of Art.

Erik Magnussen was an important Danish silversmith hired by Gorham from 1925 to 29 to develop silver in the 'modern' style. During this brief period he designed very creative and beautiful silver. He developed the 'Modern American' line in 1928. When Gorham was marketing this line of silver, the American market was not ready for it, preferring conservative colonial styled silver. Hence Gorham had a great deal of trouble selling Magnussen's forward looking silver.

As the great depression took hold, Gorham reduced retail prices and still did not sell much of Magnussen's silver. It is generally believed that much of Magnussen's silver was eventually destroyed by Gorham. It is for these reasons that today American art deco silver is extremely rare, very much appreciated and highly sought after by collectors and museums. (See Gorham Silver by Charles Carpenter.)

This rare sterling silver centerpiece bowl is marked with Gorham's trademark, 'GORHAM', 'STERLING', the model number 14066 and Magnussen's trademark. It measures 9.25 inches in diameter and 6.75 inches high, weighs 25.25 troy ounces and is in very good/ excellent antique condition with very slight unevenness inside the bowl where it rests on the foot.

Exhibition: Jazz Modern: Art Deco & the Avant Garde at the 2013 San Francisco Fall Antiques Show.

Literature: Accompanying article, Jazz Modern: Art Deco & the Avant Garde by Katy Kiick, in the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show catalog.