Erik Magnussen for Gorham Sterling Silver Figural Candle Holders, 1928
These unusual sterling candle holders are great examples of American Art Deco silver and unique, being the only two candlesticks of this design that Gorham ever made.
Each candle holder features three cast whimsical fish. Their tails are attached to and support the socles while the jaws are attached to a circular ring base. The socles with raised outside edges are decorated with incised lines to form eight small panels. This unusual ring platform base along with figural animals supporting a dish was a design favored by Magnussen; the same technique can be seen on a nut dish we sold to The Carnegie Museum.
The Art Deco design element of 'static motion' (the appearance of movement in a stationary object) is achieved through the fine execution of the facial expressions, the placements and positioning of the fish and the definition of the dorsal and tail fins.
In 1925, in a daring and forward-looking move, Gorham hired the famous Danish silversmith Erik Magnussen to develop a line of 'modern' silver for the American market. Magnussen designed some of the most important American Art Deco silver while he worked at Gorham from 1925 to 1929.
American Art Deco silver is extremely rare. Americans were not ready for it and Gorham had a great deal of trouble selling Magnussen designed 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.
According to a report by Sam Hough derived from costing records at the Gorham archives, these candle holders were the only two made in this design. They were made in early 1928 by Gorham at a cost of $32.00 and sold for a retail price of $60.00.
Underneath, the base is marked with Gorham's trademark, 'GORHAM/STERLING', the model number '92' and with Erik Magnussen's 'E.M' signature mark. They measure about 2.75 inches in diameter by 1.75 inches high. They weigh a combined 8.05 troy ounces and are in very good/ excellent condition.
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