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Gorham Antique Sterling Silver Vase, Providence, RI, 1892

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This beautiful vase is a rare design. Large, fluted swirls and flutes spiral upwards from the base with stunning acid-etched and hand-engraved floral decoration rising to the neck. The tall, slender neck also incorporates fluted, swirl designs below a flared opening bordered with an applied foliate band.

Women at Gorham were often responsible for highly skilled jobs of decorating wares with silver deposit on glass and pottery, painted enamels and painting acid-etched engraved decorations, amongst other tasks. (See here and here.)

Woman working at Gorham. Photo courtesy Providence Public Library.
Woman decorating 2020 model vase at Gorham. Photo courtesy Providence Public Library.

In this fascinating photo from about 1892, a woman decorates a 2020 model vase, possibly even this one, for acid-etched engraving. It is so rare to find documentation such as this.  The dark areas of varnish protect the silver, which appears white, from the acid. While there would have been a sketch of the flowers on the white silver (likely done by her), one can see she is not slavishly copying a design but working with a fair amount of artistic freedom.

This wonderful vase is marked underneath with Gorham's trademark and 'STERLING/ 2020' along with the 1892 date symbol. It measures at its widest point five inches in diameter, 14.75 inches tall and is in very good antique condition.

Original archival image of an identical vase with slightly different engraving.  Gorham Mfg. Co. Archives, John Hay Library, Brown University.