This stunning candle or chamber stick is a rare piece of Martelé silver by the Gorham Manufacturing Company of Providence, RI. The sinuous shaped perimeter around the bottom has folded over edges, a ring handle and a section at the front which folds underneath to act as a foot. Wonderful chasing of ivy leaves, vines and a single flower in bloom decorate the body. The hammered background shimmers (especially with a lovely candle flame). The removable bobeche with its undulating rim is also chased with vines and leaves. It is monogrammed underneath 'H McC' in a lovely script style.
We have never seen this form except for the few examples pictured in books. Gorham's Martelé line of silver was the finest expression of art nouveau in American silver. Each piece was individually designed and crafted by hand; no machine was used in any part of the creation and each piece is unique. During the period that Gorham produced Martelé, only 42 chamber sticks(1) were made and each was different. Expertly executed by hand, the central stem is raised and forms the sconce at the top.
According to Gorham's costing records, this chamber stick took 20 hours to form and was raised by Frederick Richard Avery(attr.).(2) The floral decoration took 27 hours and was chased by Paul L. Hansen.(3)
This exceptional example of Martelé is marked underneath with Gorham's trademark, '.9584/ I/BS/ MARTELE' with the winged eagle used on Martelé. The bobeche is marked '.9584/ I/BS'. It measures 5.5 inches long by 4.25 inches high, weighs 9.70 troy ounces and is in excellent antique condition.
- Larry J. Pristo, Martelé: Gorham's Art Nouveau Silver, (2002; Phoenix: Phoenix Publishing Group), p. 141.
- See Pristo, p. 358.
- See Pristo, p. 358