Franklin Porter Signed Sterling Silver Arts & Crafts Salad Bowl, Danvers, MA, 1929
Not only is this bowl stunning, it has a wonderful story. The bowl itself is a large salad bowl with beautiful, irregular hammering which makes the bowl sparkle inside and out. It is beautifully executed with a slightly domed bottom interior. It is so rare to find actual written engraved signatures of silversmiths on their work, this bowl must have had special meaning.
The bowl was his (Franklin Porter) favorite project and he made it in a variety of sizes, shapes and styles... In 1929 the silversmith, quoting something about shoemakers' children going barefoot, withdrew into the workshop one morning and we could hear his hammer for most of the day. When he finally emerged, he was carrying a large silver salad bowl which he presented to my mother and to me for a Christmas present. The bowl is engraved for Ethel Louise Borden Chase Porter and Helen-Louise Borden Porter December 25th, 1929. Later, in 1930 he added his autograph.(1)
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.(2) However, he was fiercely independent and never joined Boston's Society of Arts & Crafts, eschewing the commercial pressures of that organization.(3)
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.(4)
Examples of his silver holloware are uncommon, always hand-raised and of good quality. A four piece demitasse set by him is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston(5) and his masterpiece, The Resurrection Communion Service, is in the treasury of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.(6)
This stunning bowl is marked underneath 'F. PORTER/ STERLING' and with his trademark first used in 1925. It is also signed and initialed. The bowl measures 10 inches round by 2 inches high and weighs 16.50 troy ounces.
"Franklin Porter, Silversmith" by Helen Porter Philbrick in the Essex Institute Historical Collections (Vol. CV, No. 3, July, 1969), p. 181-82.
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), p. 273.