CATALINA SOUVENIR SPOONS: GORHAM MFG. CO, PROVIDENCE, RI

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Gorham Mfg. Co. maker's mark

CATALINA SOUVENIR SPOONS: GORHAM MFG. CO, PROVIDENCE, RI, in business from 1831 to present, but no longer located in Providence. According to the book Gorham Spoons: Sterling Souvenirs from a Bygone Era by Chris A. McGlothlin, Gorham produced one spoon handle design and five different Catalina Island scenes to be photo-etched in the bowls of some of the spoons. These spoons were made for Hunt and Clark Curio Store of Avalon in July 1903. They are rarely seen today. Hunt and Clark’s initial order was for 300 spoons and, though there might have been further orders, no reorders were noted in the Gorham archives. Pattern handles with engraved bowls were offered by Gorham, but many jewelers were capable of engraving themselves so instead of paying Gorham for the work they bought pattern spoons with plain bowls and did their own engraving.

According to Katherine Loud's diary, in 1893 William M. Hunt (1870-1947) was the agent for all Los Angeles and San Francisco newspapers in Avalon, which were available at his Shell Store, as were "Guns, Sail and Rowboats." October 17, 1903 she notes: Mr. William M. Hunt dissolved his firm of Hunt and Clark. Mr. Clark had been with him over 3 years. Mr. Hunt will continue his store begun over 12 years ago [c. 1893-1903].

The Gorham Versailles pattern, designed by Antoine Heller and issued in 1885, is named for the French palace of Versailles, residence of King Louis XIV. It is a multi-motif pattern, with several different images within the pattern. The scene variations are said to be inspired by murals in the Versailles palace that depict daily life. Santa Catalina Island souvenir spoons are found on several Versailles pattern variants:

Gorham "Versailles" pattern [cherub and lyre]
Gorham "Versailles" pattern [draped woman and child]



According to Gorham spoon historian, Chris McGlothlin: "Five Gorham Santa Catalina Island spoon bowl scenes were done for Hunt & Clark, store merchants at Avalon. Gorham called this process “line photo etching.” A large tuna is on the teaspoon’s upper handle with seaweed surrounding it and also decorating the shank. The modestly decorated reverse was produced with a Gorham-owned die so it was not charged to the customer. Length of the spoon is 5-15/16 inches and weight is slightly over one troy ounce. (Twelve troy ounces and five pennyweights of sterling silver were used to produce one dozen spoons.) The spoons and obverse die where charged to Hunt & Clark at $412.50 for 25 dozen (averaging to $16.50 per dozen spoons). A big 300-spoon purchase was the initial, and possibly only, order."

Manufacturer's bowl captions:

  • THE SUGAR LOAF AVALON SANTA CATALINA ISL.
  • SANTA CATALINA ISL. AVALON
  • FARNSWORTH LOOP ON STAGE ROAD CATALINA ISL., CAL.
  • SEAL ROCK SANTA CATALINA ISL.
  • FLYING FISH


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