Gorham Rare Antique Sterling Silver and 'Blown-in' Glass Salad Bowl, Providence, RI, 1892/93, designed and executed for the World's Columbian Exhibition, Chicago, 1893
This rare and stunning salad, berry or centerpiece bowl with original deep ruby glass was made by Gorham for display at the World's Columbian Exhibition in 1893. It was part of a new line of innovative silver, having glass blown into it, that Gorham introduced at the fair. Gorham won an award at the fair for this new style of silverware.
The decorative body is hand pierced with flowing foliage and flowers. The underside has large fluting emanating from a floral cutout. Four bold, cast feet of scrolling foliage and a shell support the bowl.
The glass is blown into the bowl and molded to adhere to the silver. The shaped collar is then applied with four decorative nuts and bolts. The effect of this new technique is striking, with the glass expanding into the open spaces of the pierce-work.
The interior of the bowl has an irregular surface due to its formation into the silver. When light shines into the bowl, a wonderful display of red patterns shine upon its surrounding including a red flower directly underneath the bowl.
A new invention by Gorham, this style silver was introduced at the Columbian Exposition to great acclaim. From The New York Times:
Perhaps the most venturesome thing the Gorham Company has done is found in a display of glass expanded in silver. This is remarkable not in idea so much as in execution, as glass has been successfully blown into composition. It remained for the Gorham Company to make it successful in solid silver and to at the same time add one more very beautiful combination to the wide field of silver goods. The silver vessels subjected to this process is first made and pierced in filigree, and the glass, in its plastic condition, is then blown in and blended with the metal. Silver is naturally a cold metal, and the greatest care is necessary to prevent the glass from chilling or the silver from burning. This it is which makes the operation such a delicate one. This beautiful ware is original with the Gorham Company, it never having been exhibited anywhere save in America. (1)
This bowl is the 'Rosetta Stone' of this line of silver with blown-in glass. Buried deep in Gorham's records for this bowl is a notation near a glass costing entry of "J. H. & Co." - clearly indicating the glass was supplied, or blown-in, by J. Hoare & Co. of Corning, NY. Hoare was one of America's great glass companies and this is the first time Gorham's supplier for their 'blown-in' glass has been identified.
According to Gorham's records from the John Hay Library at Brown University, the 'S1216 Salad Bowl' was finished in April of 1893. It had a 'net' or wholesale price of $150.00 which may have translated to about a $190.00 retail price, quite a sum at the time.
It appears that Gorham made a second bowl of this model in 1894. Our bowl is the one they exhibited at the Columbian World's Fair.
This exceedingly rare bowl is marked underneath with Gorham's trademark and 'STERLING/ S1216' and with the date symbol for 1892. It measures 10 inches in diameter by just under 4.745 inches high and is in very good antique condition without its original gilding.