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Art & Design

Gorham Manufacturing Company, Lady’s Writing Table and Chair, 1903, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick B. Thurber

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Joseph Edward Straker Gorham Manufacturing Company Potter and Company Franz Ziegler William Christmas Codman

Lady’s Writing Table and Chair

Gorham Manufacturing Company, manufacturer
American, 1831-
William Christmas Codman, designer
English, 1839-1921
Joseph Edward Straker, silversmith
English, 1843-1912
Franz Ziegler, modeler
German, 1869-1934
Potter and Company, cabinetmaker
American, fl. 1878-1910
Lady’s writing table and chair, 1903
Lady’s Writing Table and Chair
Ebony, mahogany, boxwood, redwood, thuya wood, ivory, mother-of-pearl, silver, mirrored glass, and gilded tooled leather
127 x 127 x 71.1 cm (50 x 50 x 28 inches)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frederick B. Thurber 58.095

Making It in America, October 11, 2013 - February 9, 2014

This writing table and chair represent a golden age for Gorham. In 1899 the company moved into a new plant, and with the new design direction from William Christmas Codman, Gorham enjoyed a perfect matrix of leadership and artistry. Codman turned over his rather cursory sketches for the silversmiths, chasers, modelers, inlayers, leather carvers, and cabinetmakers to interpret and execute in three dimensions. Remarkable skill and collaboration is particularly evident in the leaves on the desk’s surface, where the ebony and rosewood, which are very challenging woods, were carved away to allow the inlay of silver.

As the director of design at Gorham from 1973 to 1983, I always felt that we were working in the shadow of this moment, which was characterized by outstanding dedication to craftsmanship, hard work, and the time required to create what had never been made before.

Burr Sebring, designer and silversmith

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