This month’s museum feature is especially neat, a 12-piece silver boudoir set produced by Unger Brothers Sterling Silver Company. These gorgeous pieces hail from the Love’s Dream pattern, which has grandiose scrollwork, a floral motif, and a central design of an "angel" kissing a woman. Although our research staff has been unable to determine whether or not this is true, it is believed that the woman is a mother and the angel represents her child. This unique 12-piece set consists of a powder puff jar, vaseline jar, nail buffer, nail file, button hook, lady’s comb, shoe horn, a pair of glove stretchers, mirror, cloth brush, velvet brush, and hair brush. Each piece is exquisitely designed and is indicative of a bygone age of sterling silver artistry. While properly classified as a boudoir set, collections of this type are also known as dresser sets or toilet sets. Replacements, Ltd. has acquired a copy of the 1904 Unger Brothers Catalogue showing great detail for each piece. A number of additional pieces were made to accompany the 12 that are on display in our showroom, including several more jars and containers, scissors, and brushes. What we do know about this set can be derived from knowledge of the period, the styling of each piece, and the reputation garnered by Unger Brothers.
The Ungerer family moved to the United States from Germany in 1849. Once they had settled in Newark, New Jersey they shortened their name to "Unger." In 1872, the family established a jewelry business. Herman Unger and George Unger each brought their unique talents to the business. Herman Unger was an engraver and had started an engraving business in 1870. (This often leads to confusion as to the actual date Unger Brothers began operation.) George Unger was a jeweler. Over the years, the company changed its name several times. Although the business started with five brothers, three of them died in 1879. The remaining brothers, Herman and Eugene, decided to rename the business Unger Brothers.
Philemon Olin Dickinson was artistic director for the company for many years. During his tenure at the company, he oversaw the Art Nouveau designs for which the company has become so popular, including the great Love’s Dream pieces featured here. Art Nouveau is characterized by undulating lines, bold curves, and interlaced patterns. The scrolls and lines that comprise an Art Nouveau piece most often possess a certain rhythm. Art Nouveau or "new art" became extraordinarily popular at the turn of the century. Unger Brothers considered their works to be very modern. The Love’s Dream pattern that we showcase this month is the epitome of Art Nouveau. Lines inspired by nature accented with surreal images of angels and human forms that float in clouds pair to create a sense of richness that is unparalleled.
Our curating staff places an estimated value of $4,000.00 on this 1904, 12-piece set. Unfortunately, like our previously featured Museum selections, these pieces are not for sale. We keep them on public display though, and we invite you to stop by and visit our Showroom and Museum and view these and many other sterling silver pieces that are for sale, many with designs just as rich and intriguing as that of Love’s Dream! Our Showroom and Museum are open from 9am to 7pm ET, 7 days a week (except holidays). The Showroom and Museum are conveniently located between Greensboro and Burlington, NC, at exit 132 off Interstate 85/40. Make plans to come see us, and leave with a few pieces of really nice sterling to show off back home!