Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cellini Craft

     Cellini Craft (1914-now) is listed among many other metal working manufacturers of the Arts & Craft Movement; silver and copper being the most mentioned metal.  The aluminum items made by Cellini did not merit mention, nor did those made by Avon Coppersmiths (1910-1940)
     Nevertheless, Cellini Craft aluminum pieces hold a cherished place in the collections of many collectors.
     The small candleholder shown left is definitely a favorite among the small holders in my collection.This holder was featured on a page mentioned in last week's article and described as the Argental line with an oval rimmed bobeche atop two flower-shaped bases with four small ball feet on the bottom." The Argental mark is also shown there
     I have a weakness for candleholders, although years ago I sold several larger ones because of limited display space. Now, I wished I had simply packed them away!
Deep Avon bowl
     This is the only piece of Avon that I can share. It is shown in HAHWC BK2 and described as being a little over 8" in dia. and weighing almost one pound. A deep scratch shows no sign of copper.
Cellini shallow bowl

     The delicate wire decoration between the wide scalloped edge makes this shallow bowl by Cellini, a special piece to use for a stack of fruit or for a generous serving of cookies.
Covered serving bowl by Cellini
The little cast aluminum "bakerman" topping this dish made it a very desirable item. This picture came to us in 1993, from  the Aldrich collection.


All three of the small Cellini trays above have a style reminiscent of that of silver pieces. Apparently the company did not venture far astray from their past when they switched to a cheaper metal.
 Covered Cellini server
     This photo of a photo is included to demonstrate Cellini's often-used cast leaf and berry decoration. Look carefully at the bottom of the wire strand handles to find the berries.
     As far back as 1914, Ernest Gerlach opened a shop in Evanston Ill. He choose the name Chellini Shop after Benvenuta Cellini, a renowned Renaissance goldsmith (whose life story makes interesting reading). He hired several silversmith, including the talented Hans Gregg and William Conrad both from Germany. The company produced countless numbers of silver items, most of which are in great demand today. Depression days affected their business, as it did all businesses across the nation and in 1934 aluminum wares were added to their line of products.
     It was called Argental, meaning silver-like. As with many other companies, the logos or marks were changed numerous times, and the letters M and W were added at one time. These were the initials of Max Willie, an East Coast distributer who also handled the wares of Shup Laird.
     A search for Cellini indicates that the company still operates but details or not available.In fact, a Google search is cluttered with the name with shops featuring shoes, leather jackets,  dinner wares and silver adopt the name. However, its history shows that in 1957 it was sold to the Randahl Company, whose main purpose was to acquire its metalsmiths.  Argental items continued to be made until 1965, when these dies and designs were purchased by Reed  an Barton.  Rdandahl eventually purchased what was left of Cellini in 1969, and ended the creation of custom metalwork.

     There are several other companies that produced items similar to those of Cellini, the most prolific being Moderne who also used simple styling and a series of cunning tile scenes that make their wares desirable. 
     As always, your comments and questions are looked forward to, and I hope you'll be responding soon.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Cellini Craft

Searching for Cellini Craft information is frustrating. There is so little available. I have found no catalogs of the company wares and, compared to most of the other popular and well known companies, relatively few examples of their work are available

The Cellini pieces are  rather easy to identify: the aluminum is not as thick as that of many of the other companies, and there are no motifs.
This company used the design of their pieces to create their simple charm, although they often added tile insets and cast decoration.

I cannot apply this to Cellini Craft with certainty, but I have been told that the tiles used in the heydays of aluminum production, were often expensive imported ones. We do know that they were varied, colorful and charming.

Cast aluminum spoon 
     The best reference that I have found for Cellini Craft shows numerous tile designs and several other items including the first piece of Cellini in my collection. I was slightly disappointed to see it classified as bring part of the company's shift to plebian products and described as low-end! Their silver product had been rather elegant and that appearance continued into the designs for their aluminum products.

Salad bowl and servers

 black bakelite tray w/ alum. H.

The tray at left is my favorite piece of Cellini and, to me, lives up the company's reputation of producing elegant pieces. The tiny  berries lining a portion of the handles leaf design are typical of their work.

"pumpkin" pitcher
When this photograph first appeared in Hammered Aluminum-Handwroght Collectibles Book Two it caused a flurry of envy among collectors everywhere! I may be mistaken, but I believe this was from the collection of Jim Khan. 

I found a collection of Cellini pitchers when researching Cellini on the Internet but it was not clear whether or not they were made of aluminum. What was clear, however, was the ocassional use of the tiny berry decoration.

More company background and pieces tomorrow. Until then......