Joseph Heinrichs work is very rare and he worked with a variety of mediums including silver plate, sterling and copper. He is best known for his exceptional copper pieces inspired by the American west for which this large blotter is a great example. Usually these copper pieces incorporate applied silver mounts and sometimes include applied horn, bone and/or arrowheads attached with silver thread resembling Native American sewing with withes.
The top is a sheet of copper with a hand-hammered surface and silver rivets around its edge secured to a wood rectangle. The central handle is a capstan-shaped device with silver rivets and wide straps holding an Indian stone arrowhead secured by flat silver wire. Four stone arrowheads are secured in the corners using the same wire techniques.
The top wood surface rotates around the central handle in order to change the paper when necessary.
Considering the exceptional quality of his 'artistic' copper and silver wares, very little is known today about Joseph Heinrichs. He was born to Johann Michael and Gurtrud Heinrichs in Vital, Adendorf, Rhineland, Prussia on the 23rd of February, 1866. Arriving from Germany on the 10th of May, 1895, he was naturalized as a US citizen on July 1, 1902. Those records indicate he was a silversmith and lived at 134 West 22nd St.1
Heinrichs' shop was located in the fashionable section of Manhattan across from the Flatiron Building at 948 Broadway in a building known as Madison Square Hall. The hall included space open to events such as political meetings, sporting events (billiards) and art exhibitions. The American Art Association/ American Art Galleries (later to become Anderson Galleries which was subsequently subsumed by Parke Bernet and later bought out by Sotheby's) had office space, galleries and auctions at 6 Madison Square South and around the corner at 940-948 (Madison Sq. Hall) and 950-958 Broadway.2
This rare blotter is marked 'COPPER AND SILVER'. It measures 6.25 inches long by 3.25 inches wide by 2.25 inches high and is in excellent antique condition with a couple chips to the edge of the center arrrowhead.
- Conversation with D. Albert Soeffing, July 9, 2013. Don believes this information supersedes that published in Silver in Americain 1994.
- American Art Galleries/ American Art Association address at the time was 6 East 23rd Street (Madison Park South) and during parts of this period leased parts of 940-948 Broadway and owned 950-958 Broadway. See The New York Supplement, Volume 141, Permanent Edition, (New York City: West Publishing Co., 1913), pp. 353-54.