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Decorative Arts

The vegetable-shaped salt and pepper shakers and the curvilinear flask are splendid examples of the Aesthetic Movement style, which appeared strikingly new and modern to consumers at the time. The form of the shakers was inspired by realistic Japanese metal objects with which Americans were just becoming familiar, and their maker used a newly invented process to patinate the silver to resemble weathered copper. The irregular, ergonomic contour and dense Southwestern landscape of the flask would have also seemed quite daring to the original purchaser. In contrast, the all-over, hard-edged design of the later flask evokes the emerging, dynamic skyscraper skyline of big cities, and the unadorned, pyramidal forms of the later salt and pepper shakers have a timeless quality. While all of these objects were progressive when made, only the later ones still speak the language of modern design.
DATES ca. 1888
DIMENSIONS 7 3/4 x 5 x 1 1/2 in. (19.7 x 12.7 x 3.8 cm)  (show scale)
MARKINGS [Lion passant, anchor, gothic G] STERLING, 167 [in rectangle] / GORHAM MFG. CO / [star in circle--date mark for 1888) On each hinge plate: 18
SIGNATURE Back of flask, below portrait is raised signature: "Alex R Shepherd"
INSCRIPTIONS Back of flask, below portrait, in raised rustic letters: "to / H.M. Stevens / 1888." Top of cap is inscribed in raised letters: "BATOPILAS."
COLLECTIONS Decorative Arts
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
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CAPTION Gorham Manufacturing Company (founded 1865). Flask, ca. 1888. Silver, 7 3/4 x 5 x 1 1/2 in. (19.7 x 12.7 x 3.8 cm). Brooklyn Museum, 82.70. Creative Commons-BY
IMAGE front, 82.70_front_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Irregularly-shaped body (conforms to grasp of large hand) has decoration of applied cactus growing from clump of desert vegetation on each edge. Cacti on front of flask frame elaborately engraved scene of walled compound with numerous buildings and two smoking smokestacks at foot of mountain. Hills, cacti, and more buildings are in foreground. On back of flask is a 3/4 portrait head of a man in low relief. Below portrait is raised signature and inscription. At the top of the flask is a short neck with simple molded mid-band. Above this is hinged cap also with simple molded band. Cap turns in order to lock closed. Interior of cap is lined with cork. Lip and interior of flask is gilt. Condition: Generally excellent. Minor scratches with most significant as follows: short deep scratch below and slightly to right of 167 in mark; in middle of mountains in front as right angles to slope; above head on back, also small deep below right shoulder; long one running down and to right from R in signature, between H and M in inscription.
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