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The Collectics Antiques Information & Education pages are designed to further knowledge of antiques, collectibles, collecting styles, periods, artists, designers, and manufacturers of fine and decorative arts. To learn more, our Antique Collector Bookstore lists only the best collector books and price guides, complied by surveys of top antique dealers and auction houses. For a different shopping experience, you can also browse our featured selections in a fun new way with the Antique Price Guides Slideshow or see current bestsellers by using Collector Books Topic Search.

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Gorham was founded by Jabez Gorham, born in 1792 as one of eight children. When he turned 14, he began a 7 year apprenticeship with well known 18th century New England silver and jewelry craftsman Nehamiah Dodge. Determined to start his own business, Jabez established the company which bears his name in 1831 in a shop on Steeple Street in Providence, Rhode Island. The business struggled in the early years as they made French filigree jewelry and uniquely woven gold chains, but in 1831 they began making coin silver spoons, or silver made from melted coins, as public demand exploded. Gorham business grew steadily despite the occasional turmoil of ownership changes as Jabez sold and then repurchased the company, and eventually he brought his son John in as a partner. John wanted to use financial leverage to expand the company beyond its nichce market making primarily silver spoons, and his father sold him his entire stake in the company as part of a financial restructuring wherein the company took on debt. It was a good investment, for the company grew rapidly into one of the best known silversmiths in the world and the sole U. S. company aside from Louis Comfort Tiffany who could realistically claim that distinction.

The company moved into a new headquarters in Providence, RI in 1890 as employment surpassed 500, and in 1905 they opened a retail outlet on Fifth Avenue in New York City that they had commissioned from renowned architect Stanford White. Throughout the latter half of the 19th century and into the 20th, Gorham thrived as they attracted some of the best designers and silver artisans in the world. Their rapidly expanding business of doing one-of-a-kind pieces on commission for major world figures and events expanded their profile and introduced Gorham to an international clientele. Among Gorham's major commissioned works are the statue of George Washington in the U. S. Capital rotunda, the statue of Theodore Roosevelt at the Museum of Natural History in New York City, and many U. S. Presidents have chosen Gorham sterling silver tableware for use during their years in the White House including Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and both Bush presidencies. Gorham also created the trophies for some of the world's premier sporting events including the Indianapolis 500 race and the America's Cup trophy for sailing. Gorham continues to operate today reflecting the principles of its founders, and it signifies the best in American silverwork comparable to the best of Europe and the far east. Today, Gorham is perhaps best known for its silverware which it produces in hundreds of well known pattens, the most famous of which include exquisite patterns, including Chantilly (the best selling flatware pattern in the world), Strasbourg, Melrose, Fairfax, and Buttercup. Gorham also bought Quezal and other top American art glass and added its own sterling silver flourishes such as overlay and tops, and they then sold the pieces through their own sales channels. Gorham utilized a numbering system for identifying its works and dates of production until 1898 at which point it was expanded to use letters as well in various prefex and suffix forms- properly dating and identifying Gorham patterns requires a good reference book or the assistance of an expert.

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