Friday, September 17, 2010

Palmer-Smith- more Continental

     While glancing through my notebook of Continental information, my memory got a jolt when I saw there a few copies of Ed Gangawere's beautiful little publication The Continental Report. Ed had an extensive collection of the pieces made by this company but unfortunately his collection was destroyed by fire.

     What caught my eye in his publication was three new Continental motifs.  I knew this but had forgotten!  One was a dahlia appearing flower appearing in conjunction with the Wild Rose motif. Another was described as a Bull's Eye design. The third was a wreath.  How could I have forgotten?  Very easily, it appears!
      These additions to the Continental list may not be the last. I hope someone viewing this has a piece with one of these motifs.

Left. A sketch made from one of Ed's pieces, unofficially named Dahlia.  Right, a rubbing made from the motif on another piece, and called Wreath.
     There is no image of the Bull's Eye  to show, but if anyone has one it will be no problem to identify.
     Ed also passed along information of another popular Continental line: the items are made of solid copper with a thin coating of tin leaving only the motif showing in. copper. Both the Mum and the Pansy motifs were done in copper. Many collectors have wondered about these pieces which are hammered but definitely not aluminum.

Moving on....
     After the blog on Aluminum That is Not Hammered, Seaneen sent this photo of a beautiful Palmer-Smith tray. 

The horse and rider attached at either end are an example of the many attachments with which Arthur Palmer enhanced his products. All were painstakingly created and most followed the sporting interest of the day although one of my favorites is a delicate, slender flamingo.

      Arthur Palmer was employed at the Wendell August Forge for a number of years before he left to start his own operation. While at the Forge he traveled extensively, exploring the market places for trends future buyer interests. He was extremely adept in noting these trends, yet his products remain almost timeless in design.
      All Palmer-Smith aluminum ware was made before the outbreak of WWII As with the entire aluminum giftware industry, the Palmer-Smith forge had to close during the WWII demand for aluminum, and it did not reopen afterwards although the Palmer-Smith line was continued in a new field: that of beautiful linens and a group of other accessories.
      WWII brought mass production into the hammered aluminum field and made possible the flooding of the market with these products. Although very attractive items continued to be made, many collectors insist they can feel the difference: that they can sense the presence of those long-ago artisans!
     The Wendell August Forge was a company that resumed its operations at the end of the war and continued their custom of producing only handmade items. We are grateful that the Forge has survived another setback from losing so much in last winter's fire and are happy that they are carrying on their tradition of handmade products. Their new catalog is ready as is a new line of jewelry.

A Palmer-Smith Collection:

The Nordic motif on this large tray is also used on the salad set below.

 R. Paper weight with tiny cast bird.

Rope motif  on square tray
with Ring and Ball  handles.
Right: Candy dish with cast Sea Horse stand.

Left: Leaf shaped tray with cast acorn decoration
 Right: Oval tray with Wheat motif.


Left: Pipe "knocker" with Pine motif.
Center knob "knocker" is
Note: I assume I was told correctly that was the purpose of the item on the left! I can 
not find information in my files.
Right: Lily motif on shallow


Left: Vine & leaf motif on flat
Right: Bowl using Square Fern


Left: Flower chain motif on shallow tray with                                      Ring and Ball handles.                                                        Right: Simple motif of Ducks  on small bowl.

Right: Small oval tray with Cherry Branch. 

Greek Key motif decorates the handles and lines the enter edge of the tray.

Right:A bracelet # 1 and napkin ring, #1 shown with a motif that may be titled Curvilinear.
   The two small dishes  with their cast decoration are examples of the many cast items used by Palmer-Smith.    Others include in addition to the ones shown in the above listings::
Elephant          Flamingo           Gun            Dolphin
Dachsund        Horse head       Parrot          Monkey
Right: An unusual ash tray
listed in an old catalog as
a Triangle Lip Ash Tray.
Shown here in the Thumbprint motif.

Left: The Petunia  motif is    
 rather rare.
Right: The Ivy motif edging the deep tray, was a very
popular one in many areas.
Remember the ivy patterned wallpaper of the '40s-'50s?


The Wheat Motif is on this tray, which was a gift to me. Badly bent in several places, my metal working husband restored it to almost perfect condition. He laughingly insisted that the giver must have ridden a motorcycle over it several times to create such damage. Great memories!

I can find no official name or image of this motif. Help!
I thought this would be a simple blog. It hasn't been! Palmer-Smith was extremely prolific in its years of operation, making many unique items that we may never see in the market place: their timeless design may assure them a place as family heirlooms. I look forward to a follow-up as some of you may have interesting pieces to share.... just as Seaneen's started this entire blog subject today.


Monday, September 6, 2010

Continental Silver Company: their patterns

 Blogging is in many ways simpler than the printing, separating, folding, addressing, stamping method of old. The problem remains that I feel sure that I'm not reaching everyone on my address list. That is a problem yet to be remedied. 
A second problem lies within the Blogger system; regardless of the way my finished article appears on my computer screen, it will be changed when the "publish"
 button is clicked. Even the recently "new and improved" statement that the preview will show exactly how the writings will appear is not accurate. This is the reality:
   1.  Several hours will be spent writing and arranging photos.
   2. Spelling will be checked...maybe.
   3. Preview button is clicked and the material is edited if necessary.
   4. The publish button is clicked and in three seconds, huge gaps appear in the 
       article.  Sentences are started and are finished elsewhere. Words are sometimes     
   5.The nice, neat material exists no more, so the blog is removed for editing and 
       the process is repeated...and again and again, as long as the writer wishes to 
      repeat the editing attempts. 
Score I for the computer. Score 0 for the writer. 
This is a work in progress!

Continental motifs:
Although I failed to list three Continental motifs that I have or have seen, in the previous blog, I do have here examples of a large number of motifs.

The Pansy
motif must not have been a success or perhaps it didn't adapt well to applying to other items. I have one other piece, a sandwich tray, and have never seen another.

This is my favorite tray to pile high with snacks.

Bird books and a dictionary were brought into use to identify this tropical bird. Others closely resemble this image but were not a total match as was the Bird of Paradise
During the period of the aluminum gift ware's popularity, there was an emphasis on certain types of sporting events such as sailing, polo. and scenes such as this of fox hunting. Although aluminum became known as the "poor man's silver, Arthur Armour once remarked that in the cities, the price of a choice line of aluminum could not be considered at all cheap as the companies designed their good to appeal to the more affluent. Notice the different styles of handles 

This scene was used on several trays of  different styles and shapes.

A Daisy motif was used by Continental in three different arrangements. I think the name Daisy was used on all three at different periods. The daisies on the tray below are so large they could be called sunflowers, but I have seen anything in print to support that title. Note the daisy styled handles.

Iris in a bouquet, is another of their flower motifs. The Iris, Daisy, Mum, and Rose motifs were patterns used on trays of the same size and all with chopped corners 

Roses, below
in an intricately shaded pattern which, when the tray  is moved, highlights the rose

The Wild Rose pattern is a delicate one with tiny thorns showing on the rose stems. It is exceptionally pretty on some styles but gets "lost" on others.

Many styles of candle holders were made by this company. Some had the mum motif, others, like those above, had many shapes and petal styled candle cups. 

This little tidbit tray was on my unmarked list for years before accidently discovered the Continental mark almost completely hidden in its pressed Paisley
pattern. Its style, so completely different 
from other Continental pieces and its 

hard-to-see mark  had me badly fooled.



    Pieces done in the Corduroy pattern very often
     had wooden handles.
    The ice bucket has the wide strip of
    ridged "corduroy" lines running across the lid.


The Pussy Willow motif is another rather delicate one and it's much more attractive than this very poor picture shows. Its rolled handles are completely different from 
the often used concave band ones used on so many other trays.

This Continental ice bucket is not a part of my collection---but I wish it were!
The Oak Leaf and Acorn design is the same used for one style of salad bowl and is also the same as that holding their punch bowl. The punch bowl has a more tapered base than either the salad bowl or this ice bucket

In Book II a tray with a scene of mountains is shown. That is the only other motif that I can think of but there may be more. 

Most of the motifs shown above, were manufactured in a variety of styles, but none were as widely used as that of the chrysanthemum. Some day in the future, we'll compile a list of the items the company produced. 

Mail and Comments:
As a collector of many, many years, I had never seen but the one Palmer-Smith candelabra shown in the Looking Back issue. This one is part of my collection. Finally another has appeared: Teresa found hers at a church rummage sale, paid what she considered an outrageous price for a rummaged sale item, and has turned down an offer of $100 from a dealer, leaving her husband rather puzzled.  They often are! Mine would have doubted my common sense had he known some of the prices I paid and we soon adopted a policy: he didn't ask and I didn't tell.

The purchase of the candleholder started Teresa's collection which has grown to the point she is considering selling part of it---but not her favorite serving pieces and NOT the large chargers she has hung over the fireplace. They are against a red wall, and that should be quite an outstanding display

Irene has made another striking display with about a dozen of the pieces with plates, hanging above her kitchen cabinets. A question, Irene: Does each plate have a different motif? It would be interesting  to display here in the Aluminist, a collection of as many as possible of these motifs. I have another of those "one of a kind" pieces with a vivid motif of tropical flowers to include. As soon as I post it's picture, I'll soon hear of another, I'm sure! Irene also spoke of wishing to sell part of her collection.

Seaneen reminded me that I did not caption two pieces shown in All Aluminum is not Hammered. 
The small square tray is Coffee by Wendell August and the pair of vases were Palmer-Smith. Referring to the same article and the mention of Arthur Court, Seaneen sent some pictures of his work which is always unique and interesting. These and other photos she enclosed, I hope to include in later blogs. Although I have not been able to store the photos where I wished, I think I have them safely located in a future blog.

There has also been a request for cleaning instructions. First, do not wash in the dishwasher. Once might do no harm but it is chancy.  Dirty items may be washed in mild soapy water and an old toothbrush or other small, not very stiff brush may be used to clean beneath handles if they appear to have collected grim. The preferred cleaner is Mothers, a cleaner/polish  used on aluminum auto wheels and that may be found in automotive departments. I have used other brands but like this one best. 

The procedure should be..
   Wash away the dirt
   Rub lightly with fine steel wool (courser if the piece has scratches
   Rub with #0000 steel wool
   Apply Mothers and buff until completely clean
   Wash again and dry 
One should wear rubber gloves to apply and rub the cream onto the item for the oxidation that is being removed is a black mess! Use an old soft rag and RUB!  Depending upon how groggy the piece is, this is not a quick or easy job. When you are finished, the appearance of your piece makes the work worthwhile.  

 One should always experiment with any drastic actions on a worthless-beyond-repair item.  Most of us have discovered that pits/corrosion cannot be removed: the piece is permanently damaged. All gritty, coarse cleaners are going to leave scratches that will need to be buffed away.

I hope this is available to most of the old Aluminist subscribers. I'll probably never know because there have been many address changes, both land and internet. We were once a large group and perhaps we will be once more.
Also, this is not limited to aluminum collectors. Join in and explore a different world!


Friday, September 3, 2010

The Continental Silver Company

The shaggy type of mum is the variety featured in the Continental chrysanthemum pattern: the pattern that appears to have been the all-time favorite of all the motifs created by this company. If the interest expressed since the Aluminist  started appearing online is any indication, it is still the favorite. I have an old catalog with 24 pages featuring mainly the chrysanthemum pattern.

From my collection, here are only a few....

The handle detail shows a wood inset, making this pitcher  uniquely different from the more common concave handles with their applied leaf decoration.

The tumbler, R. is rare and several years ago brought $50 each when they could be found. A set of eight would deplete one's pocketbook.

Not all Continental ice buckets were open -- A page from a 1950-51 catalog shows four styles, three lidded.

Some of you collect according to your favorite pattern, some collect boxes and some collect it all. I cannot decide upon a favorite company or pattern, but I have assembled a sizable collection of silent butlers. I may have an example of each style that Continental produced plus as many different styles of every other company that I could find, making a total of at least fifty. It's a weakness!
Perhaps the most exciting find of Continental that many of us have in our collection is the coffee urn and its sugar and creamer. The complete set, #22, came with a plain tray, the urn, and the creamer and sugar. The creamer and sugar were also sold as a set with their own small tray.

I bought my urn separately from the creamer and sugar. I also had, at one time, the tray to the set but that was before I knew it was a part of the complete set. It was plain and I was not fond of it so it was sold. One of the favorite pictures in my collection of photos, is one taken with the proud collector holding the complete set. Her happiness practically jumped out of the photo!

A similar set was sold without the urn but instead had a coffee server

A collector recently shared this tale with me: "I was at a large summer antique market and had just come across a great Continental find--the coffee pot, cream/sugar and tray in the Chrysanthemum pattern. I had tried to get the coffee pot several times on EBAY but had always lost out. This set was in excellent condition Just as I started to talk with the dealer about it a tornado warning alarm went off. did I seek cover...No. Decided my odds of getting hit by the tornado were slim. Went on talking with the dealer and I now have that set in my collection.

That pretty well sums up a collectors mania for whatever they collect. If an unique piece is found, leave no stone unturned until you get it for your own!

I had the same attitude when I located a punch set..complete with all 12 glass cups! In fact, piggy banks, loose car change, change beside the sofa pillows, and numerous other sources had to be turned to in order to Motifspay for the dratted thing! But it's now mine!

For future Aluminist issues....
Continental produced a great variety of motif and I believe I have examples of each of these listed here. Also the items shown in the catalog may reproduce well enough to be able to include here examples of the great variety of items the company produced in the chrysanthemum pattern.

Bird-of-Paradise  Buck & Doe   Dogwood     Pussy Willow            
Hunt Scene         Chrysanthemum    Wild Rose     Daisy      
Pansy                  Iris                        Corduroy

Other of your suggestions, questions, and notes of interest will be in the next Aluminist. They are all saved so continue to leave your comments.
They guide the direction we take in each future issue.