Mary Knight (attributed) and Seth Ek Sterling Silver Tea Strainer, Boston, MA, 1905
This is a beautiful tea strainer and wonderful example of Arts & Crafts silver by Mary Knight whose silver is very rare. The wide flat edge has a striking naturalistic flowing foliate design. The bowl is beautifully pierced with circular punches arranged in a pattern. The delicately shaped wood handle is most likely ebony and is pinned into a collar attached to the strainer.
Mary Knight came from Gorham's design department and supervised the Handicraft Shop of Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts which was an early outgrowth of Boston's Society for Arts and Crafts. She had several of the artisans there execute her designs including Leinonen, Gyllenberg and Seth Ek and others.(1) She worked alongside many of them, letting them raise the vessels and then tooling the decoration herself.
Her chased decoration is highly unusual in that it is comprised of strikes from small leather working tools, rather than the traditional chasing tools of the silver trade.(2)
Finnish immigrant Seth Ek was a craftsman member of the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts from 1906-12.(3) In the 1907 exhibition, he showed six pieces made solo and two, like this strainer from two years earlier, created in collaboration with Mary Knight.(4)
This wonderful sterling tea strainer is marked with the Handicraft Shop logo along with 'STERLING/ 1905' and 'E' for Seth Ek. It measures 3.5 inches round and 6.75 inches long across the handle. It is in very good antique condition.
Marilee B. Meyer, consulting curator, Inspiring Reform: Boston Arts & Crafts Movement, (Wellesley: David Museum and Cultural Center, 1997), p. 75.
Wendy Kaplan, The Art That is Life: The Arts & Crafts Movement in America, 1875-1920, (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1987), p. 273.
Karen E Ulehla, The Society of Arts and Crafts, Boston: Exhibition Record 1897-1927, (Boston: Boston Public Library, 1981), p. 76.
Society of Arts & Crafts, Boston, Exhibition of the Society of Arts and Crafts Together With A Loan Collection of Applied Art, (Boston: The Heinzemann Press, 1907), p. 37.