James T. Woolley Arts & Crafts Sterling Silver Presentation Tray, Boston, MA, 1929
This stunning, circular tray has a wonderful, curved, shaped perimeter with an applied band edge. It exhibits a wonderful, hammered, shimmering contrast to the flat interior. Eight sections are defined by alternating concave and convex fluting. The underside is engraved with the following presentation:
E. IRVING LOCKE FROM THE CASTE AND COMMITTEE OF "UNDER COVER" WESTON, MASSACHUSETTS MARCH 22-23, 1929
E. Irving Locke was a stage actor who appeared in local theaters in the Boston area and on Broadway. (1)
James Woolley's handmade silver is rarely seen on the market today. Woolley was a highly talented silversmith, one of only eight silversmiths to win the 'Medalist' designation, the highest honor bestowed by the Boston Society of Arts & Crafts. His work was featured in the Society's 1907 exhibition. (2)
Trained at Gorham, Woolley was an early convert to the movement and worked as a silversmith and jeweler. Early in his career, he shared bench space with the important arts and crafts silversmith George J. Hunt and set up his own shop in 1908. (3) Many of his best pieces are adaptations of colonial models.
In 1906, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts held the first exhibition of colonial American silver. The handmade pieces in this exhibit inspired many of the arts and crafts makers in Boston, including Woolley.
This tray is marked underneath with Woolley's trademark "JW" and "STERLING/ WOOLLEY." It measures 12.25 inches in diameter, weighs 23.50 troy ounces, and is in very good antique condition with some surface scratching from use.
Larry James Gianakos, Pulitzer Prize Winners in Letters, Our Town, Henry Miller Theatre on February 4, 1938, pp. 60-61.
Karen Evans Ulehla, Society of Arts and Crafts, Boston Exhibition Record 1897-1927, (Boston: Boston Public Library, 1981).
Allen H. Eaton, Handicrafts of New England, (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1949), p.241.
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