I spend a great deal of time researching items for listing on my Etsy shop (as you most likely know if you’ve read some of my other posts). This time I was researching a silverplate fork and knife both marked “Art Silver Co.”. The fork had an angel or cherub depicted on the handle and the knife had what looked to be a woman with draped head covering. The angel looked very familiar to me…I knew I had seen it before, but where? Here is a photo:
I tracked the angel down to a work by Raphael entitled “The Sistene Madonna” painted circa 1512. There were two little angels or cherubs at the bottom of the painting…my little angel was definitely one of them. Could the woman on the knife be the Madonna? It wasn’t an exact match but it was a definite possibility. Note the rendition of the Madonna certainly shows a sculptor’s artistic license. Following is a copy of the painting:
Likenesses of these two little angels were featured by many artists since, most notably the 1800’s German artist Moritz Steinla. It appears Currier & Ives reproduced the Steinla engraving and called it “The Little Cherubs”, see the following:
I found this illustration in a Hibbard, Spencer, Bartlett & Co. 1899 catalog which shows there was also a spoon that was part of this set. The catalog refers to this set as “Raphael”:
I was able to find a spoon. The youth set below sold at my Etsy shop.
The spoon in this set depicts the other angel in the Raphael painting.
Now I searched “Art Silver Co.” and found one listed in Wallingford, CT. However, as far as I could tell, they marked their items “Art S. Co.” A “Chilton’s Jewelers’ Circular / Keystone” help wanted ad reads: “SALESMAN to represent Preisner Silver Company sterling and Art Silver Company plated hollowware in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, New Mexico and Kansas; no objection to non-conflicting side line; reply to Preisner Silver Company, P.O. Box 398, Wallingford, Connecticut; all replies held confidential.” So, according to this, these two companies were related hollowware manufacturers, with Preisner producing sterling and Art Silver producing silver plate. These companies date to the mid 1900’s.
But I didn’t see that they produced flatware and to me, my knife and fork looked to be older than mid-century. So I continued to search.
As luck would have it, I found the following:
“LENZ, Alfred David, s.m. sculpture and art metal worker; born at Fond du Lac, Wis., May 20th, 1872; son of Frederick and Selma (Roehr) L.; educated to jewelry trade; self-taught in art; unmarried. Exhibited at the Nat. Sculptor’s Soc. (N.Y., 1898); and Pan-American Exp., etc. Made relief decorations for “In War in Peace,” “Wonderland,” and many publications of highly decorative order, magazine covers, calendars, etc.; chief work is the re-establishment of art in the metals, according to their art value. Pres. of the Art Silver Co.; member of the Wisconsin Soc. Of N. Y. Address, 305 Fifth Ave. Home, 305 W. 112th St., New York. Taken from “The Artists Year Book, 1905-1906, Art League Pub. Association”, Google Book.
The details from three publications below.
Next is a representation of some relief work done by David Lenz for “Wonderland” by Olin D. Wheeler 1901-1906
Detail from above. Looks similar to the “Raphael” youth set.
So, in 1905 there was an Art Silver Co. in New York City and its President was Alfred David Lenz who was a sculptor and innovator in a lost wax casting method. Perfect!
The only other references I have to a company named “Art Silver Co.” is from “The Trow” 1908 as well as White Orr’s in 1918. They were probably a retailer of art, novelties and silverplated ware. In 1914 they were listed also as Kovner & Shultz.
Following is my Etsy listing for the knife and fork: