This month, we offer a museum feature with a twist! Typically our museum pieces are one-of-a-kind, and so rare that we are unable to offer them for sale. However, we recently located FOUR quite rare 11 1/4" long olive fork/spoon combinations in the Narragansett pattern by Gorham Silver. Since we only need one for our museum display, we can therefore offer three for purchase. (These pieces are not aggressively polished, in deference to collectors who may prefer this.)
Gorham’s Narragansett is no ordinary pattern. The name “Narragansett” is derived from a Native American tribe that was once part of the Algonquians. These people occupied the coasts of Rhode Island, with an Atlantic inlet at Rhode Island named “Narragansett Bay” due to their presence. In the mid-nineteenth century, Gorham Silver, of Providence, Rhode Island commissioned a flatware pattern that was to be a study of the flora and fauna of the Rhode Island coastline, bay, and sea. The pattern debuted in 1884, at the height of the Art Nouveau and Naturalistic movements, which were known for designs featuring nature, organic forms, and free flowing lines.
Pieces from Narragansett featured rocks, seaweed, flowers, and fish beautifully sculpted on twisting handles that resemble driftwood and coral. Hints of the Rococo style of architecture can be found in the seashells and playful lines of Narragansett pieces. Various pieces from the Narragansett pattern are similarly made, with handles consisting of a cast stem that features marine-inspired décor.
Fork Handle Detail
Although the pattern never gained an immense following due to its very limited production, it did cause quite a stir when shown in Gorham’s 1885 catalogue. Gorham’s artisans were given incredible license in creating each piece in the Narragansett pattern. It is said that no two pieces of Narragansett are the same, with shells being applied in different places on each piece and even different types of seaweed are used!
Spoon Front Detail
An additional unique characteristic of the Narragansett design is the application of “fake damage.” “Fake damage” was a term that was used to describe items that were artificially distressed in the creative process; this process is akin to applying a faux antique finish to a new piece of furniture. It has been said that the various seashells and other appliqués that appear on Narragansett pieces look as though that have had a prolonged underwater stay.
Spoon Back Detail
You'll not find these pieces on sale at the local home store chain! And pieces like the olive fork/spoon combination are unbelievably rare and valuable. These four pieces are valued at $14,999.00 each. As mentioned, one is already ensconced in velvet in our museum, and the other three are offered for purchase, while they are available. (One even features gold wash trim!) We have featured a number of Gorham patterns in this newsletter and the Narragansett pattern stands as a testimony to the extraordinary abilities of this company’s artisans.
If you'd like to look at these pieces in person, we extend a most genuine invitation to you to visit our Museum, with its vast collection of rare tableware and collectible items, and our Showroom, where you can browse and purchase in a stunning array of china, crystal, flatware, and collectible patterns, and of course, Gorham silver, crystal, and china pieces (including the three olive fork/spoon combinations available for purchase! (while available)).
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 visit us soon and augment your barware like never before!