All That Glitters is Not Gold
by Maxine Carter-Lome
When it comes to what we collect, those of us into antique metals – be it silver, gold, pewter, cast iron, or tin – can’t help but be distracted by the unique objects that represent a fine example of hand craftsmanship and design derived from the refined manipulation of raw metal.
In 17th and early 18th century America, metals forged and refined for everything from all manner of utilitarian objects and tools to the decorative and ornamental that civilized and refined dining room tables, acted as symbols of status when used for jewelry, and measured wealth using gold as currency, was either brought here upon arrival or imported in the early decades of the Colonial Era. For the colonies to evolve into an economically independent union of states, it was essential for colonists to source, manufacture, and refine the raw elements indigenous to their region into those goods that could compete with the quality and usefulness of their European and Asian counterparts. American craftsman and artisans in all mediums were up for the challenge – creating the American design aesthetic and paving the way for a new American economy based on our ability to source, make, and market our own goods.
Early American-made goods of natural and refined raw metals were designed to be used and their simple decorative elements helped to define an American Craft. They were hand-crafted and forged to last, which is why pewter, toleware, silver, and cast iron goods and tools for both kitchen and industry are so coveted today by collectors. Consider American iron, steel, metal, and copper, the infrastructure of a mobile and modern America. American craftsmanship, ingenuity, design, and technology-as well as the makers and brands that define their market-drive value across all segments of the antique metals market, at retail and at auction.
In this issue we look at a number of different segments of the historic metals category of collectibles, and the makers, companies, products, and brands that define the market for collectors and enthusiasts. When it comes to American silver design, Gorham is a company and brand that has stood the test of time as you will read in Elizabeth Williams’ article Gorham Silver: Designing Brilliance.
We also look back on the history and today’s popularity of toleware in America, and why pewter is enjoying such a renaissance. Kary Pardy’s Exploring Antiques Technologies looks into embellished cast and wrought iron, and Jessica Kosinski explores the “blinged-out” process of gilding and overlay in her Antiques Peek column. Judy Gonyeau takes a look at gold and silver values, and how two days in history affected the markets.
The Charleston Museum in Charleston, South Carolina-long considered the first museum of the U.S.-shares the top picks from their silver collection as determined by Chief Curator J. Grahame Long. You may be surprised at what is on the list!
We are excited to start a new year here at the magazine. If the last year has taught us anything it’s that as much as things change there is a continued appreciation for our past and the items that define it. This year we continue our tradition of exploring different segments of the antique collectibles market in new and different ways. Your feedback is encouraging, thank you. We are excited to work on the issues ahead with a renewed commitment to deliver a pleasurable, enjoyable, and informative print-based reading experience.
I invite you to visit our website, journalofantiques.com, to read current editorial, find out what’s coming up, and to sign up for our free online Post-Press Update to receive more news and information from us in between issues.
I am proud to share that our website receives over 60,000 visitors a month. One of the most popular pages on this site is our online Show and Auction Calendar, which has developed a reputation over the years for being comprehensive, current, and truly national. Our Annual Show Directory, found inside this issue, will help you kick off the New Year with this year’s show calendar of information on over 400 antique shows, flea markets, and vintage bazaars taking place throughout the year and across the country. As shows may cancel or dates may change due to unforeseen circumstances, it’s always best to check in on our website for the most up-to-date information before you head out the door. And while you’re on our website, search our Shop Finder Directory to learn about new shops to visit along the way!
Happy New Year and Happy Hunting in 2019!
All That Glitters is Not Gold