Franklin Porter Signed Sterling Silver Arts & Crafts Salad Bowl, Danvers, MA, 1926
This wonderful bowl is a lovely example of Franklin Porter's work, created when he was 57 years old.(1) Irregular hammering makes the bowl sparkle inside and out. It is beautifully executed with a slightly domed bottom. It is so rare to find actual written engraved signatures of silversmiths on their work, this bowl may have had special meaning.
According to Porter's journal, 'The silver bowl was what he liked best of all to make and often said that he could rest while he was fashioning a bowl. The steady rhythm of the hammer... and the constant turning of the bowl slowly round and around made a rhythmic pattern almost like a little dance'.(2)
Franklin Porter (1869-1935) was an important arts & crafts silversmith working in Danvers, Massachusetts when this bowl was made. Porter trained at the Rhode Island School of Design.(3) However, he was fiercely independent and never joined Boston's Society of Arts & Crafts, eschewing the commercial pressures of that organization.(4)
He worked out of his home, the 1670 Judge Samuel Holten House, and each piece was accompanied by a note which read in part:
Like the House in which it was made, this piece is constructed of the best material obtainable, by methods older than the House itself and is intended for a century or more of service.(5)
Examples of his silver holloware are uncommon, always hand-raised and of good quality. A four piece coffee service by him is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston(6) and his masterpiece, The Resurrection Communion Service, is in the treasury of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.(7)
This stunning bowl is marked underneath 'F. PORTER/ STERLING' and with his trademark first used in 1925. It is also signed and dated '1926'. The bowl measures 8.75 inches in diameter by 2.75 inches high, weighs 22.40 troy ounces and is in excellent antique condition.
"Franklin Porter, Silversmith" by Helen Porter Philbrick in theEssex Institute Historical Collections(Vol. CV, No. 3, July, 1969), p. 156.
Philbrick, pp. 180-81.
Jeannine Falino and Gerald W. R. Ward, eds.,Silver of the Americas, 1600-2000: American Silver in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, (Boston: MFA Publications, 2008), pp. 359-60.