I’ve had several silverplate items that are hotel, commercial and / or restuarant related…and the research has been quite interesting and inspiring. One of those inspiring items was a silverplate fork manufactured by Gorham in the Biltmore pattern…it lead me to Jack.
He was born July 20, 1875 in Toronto, Canada and died at 56 years of age as a result of a routine operation on October 28, 1931. Mr. Bowman (“Jack” to his friends) came to New York at the age of 17 with just pocket change. He found jobs as front desk clerk in various hotels and then landed a job as riding master at the Durland Riding Academy in Manhattan. Rebelling from wearing a uniform at Durland, he founded his own riding academy. He subsequently was hired to manage wine and cigars at the Holland House Hotel on 5th Avenue in NYC which was operated by Gustave Baumann. Mr. Baumann became Jack’s teacher and mentor. Jack became assistant to Mr. Baumann. When Baumann opened the New York Biltmore in 1913, Jack was named Vice President and Managing Director. In 1914 Mr. Baumann leaped to his death from an upper window at the NY Biltmore and Jack succeeded him as president. Under Jack’s management, many successful Biltmore hotels were opened across America, with one in Cuba, during the 1920’s. Quite a story….
This is John McEntee Bowman in the photo above…handsome or what? Can you blame me for falling?
What makes this fork interesting is that it is marked “The Bowman Hotels 1931” on the upper back side of the handle. Commonly this area would be marked for the location and “Biltmore” and a year. Rarely do you find a piece marked as this one is. It could well be that this inscription signifies the year of the death of John McEntee Bowman, President and Managing Director of Bowman – Biltmore hotels.
To see this item at my Etsy shop, please go to the following link: