Carson & Barnum Arts & Crafts Sterling and Enamel Spoon, Cleveland, Ohio, 1902-05
Examples of silver created by female silversmiths right after the turn of the 20th century is extremely rare. This is a period when the silver industry was dominated by men in both ownership and craft capacities.
This is a stunning spoon with beautiful hammering to the surface. Above a dramatic spade-shape bowl is an organic handle with a crossover design halfway up. The top of the handle is flattened, pierced and inset with stunning champlevé enamels depicting floral colors in lovely hues of green, yellow and orange with white backgrounds. Traveling the length of the handle and continuing under the bowl is an applied second piece of silver used to strengthen the handle and create a wonderful drop on the back of the bowl. This creates an almost medieval look to the piece.
Contributing to the rarity of this example is that the partnership of Carson and Barnum only lasted from 1902-1905. Jane Carson and Frances Barnum 'cofounded the Arts and Crafts Shop, an important design studio etc'.(1) According to a review of the 1903 Arts & Crafts exhibition at the Chicago Institute of Art:
Among the silversmiths the work of Jane Carson and Frances Barnum must take high rank. Original in design, bold in execution, and charming in color, the various articles in silver and enamel sent by these Cleveland young women claim our unstinted admiration. There is a freshness about their work, a spontaneity, that is not found in the handicraft of some of the more experienced members.(2)
Work by this partnership is rarely seen on the market today. Pieces of theirs can be found in fine museum collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
This rare spoon is marked on the back with the Carson & Barnum trademark 'B' within a 'C' (very lightly struck) and 'STERLING'. It measures 5.75 inches long, weighs 1.15 troy ounces and is in excellent antique condition.
Darcy L. Evon, HAND WROUGHT Arts & Crafts Metalwork & Jewelry 1890-1940, (Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd, 2013), p. 127.
Elizabeth Emery, "Arts & Crafts - Some Recent Work" in The House Beautiful, (February, 1904), p. 132.