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.



  1. Dannie, This was such a good post. I have always loved the Cellini pieces, they are all about style. The trays with the tiles are very, very beautiful and special.

  2. Thanks, Susan. It would be so interesting to have photos of these old tiles...both Cellini and those used by other companies.

  3. I enjoyed this article. In my case I don't have any Cellini, but have inherited a collection of 300+ pieces of aluminum including serving ware, silent butlers, coaster sets, candleholders and a few unusual items. Am hoping to find an interested collector to purchase the lot. Jennifer (

  4. Hi Dannie - after sent you a photo of my Cellini tray with the tile insert I decided to do some research. I believe most of the tiles used by Cellini were California tiles - in my case from the HISPANO-MORESQUE [or Mooresque] Company in Los Angeles which operated from 1927 to 1934 and were right across the street from Charlie Chaplins office in Hollywood back then. They also used the Taylor Tiles - and those are the ones that fetch the high prices.

    Here is a link to a Tile collector's site that has literally !!thousands!! of photos and a description of the Tile Companies. My tile is shown inlaid on some wooden tables. This collector loves Cellini Craft and you find it scattered about the site:

    And on this page is a Cellini Craft tray with a HISPANO-MORESQUE tile that I learned sold for $200 in 2005 [had to register with LiveAuctioneers to get the price]. Scroll to second row from the bottom:

    If you go to the "Recent Finds" on that caltiles site for the year 2010 - the photos are click to enlarge, but starting in row 7 the Cellini Craft items with tiles photos will knock your socks off!! I believe he took these photos in pricey L.A. antique shops:

    There is one tray for sale currently thru a shop on Melrose Avenue in LA that is asking $795 for the Cellini tray with a Taylor tile:

    .....scroll to the 3rd item from the bottom.

    You will have to copy and paste the links into your browser.

    I am going to e-mail you one of the photos mentioned above. The caltiles site owner is all for sharing.

  5. Oh, forgot this one shown on WorthPoint.

    A friend subscribes to WorthPoint and told me it Sold for $287 in 2007 on eBay.