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F. Walter Lawrence


It is regrettable that many Arts & Crafts makers have been forgotten.  Fortunately, museums and scholars have rescued key figures from obscurity.  One such little-known master is Frank Walter Lawrence, a jeweler and silversmith whose work was rediscovered by Janet Zapata, guest curator for a 2004 exhibition -- "Discovering an Unknown Master: The Jewelry and Silver of F. Walter Lawrence" -- at the Newark (NJ) Museum, and author of an article on him that appeared in the April, 2004 issue of The Magazine Antiques.  The full text of this excellent piece (sadly, without illustrations) can be found at http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1026/is_4_165/ai_n6077618.


Lawrence was born on November 2, 1864, and died on March 10, 1929.  He apprenticed with several noted jewelry and silver makers in Newark, NJ and New York City beginning in 1880, when his family moved to Newark.  He started his first business in Newark in 1889, and moved it to New York City in 1894.  Some of his silver work was produced by Newark's Lebkuecher and Company.


Zapata reports that Lawrence "thought of jewelry as wearable sculpture" and often based his designs on nature.  It is worth finding a copy of the Magazine Antiques piece, with its lovely illustrations of Lawrence's work.  One impressive neck ornament shown from his Union Square days (1898-1905) is especially noteworthy.  It is made of gold and pearls in a nautical motif, with delicate scallop shells, thin curving gold ocean waves, and an open, Nouveau-type frame.  What is particularly interesting is that Lawrence used the actual irregular shape of a large baroque pearl to form the sail of a ship executed in detailed gold, and four pointed, dogtooth pearls to form sails of a small armada of golden boats on the sides.  (Zapata points out that Tiffany also used dogtooth pearls to form the petals of a chrysanthemum brooch.)


F. Walter Lawrence pre-1913 "F.W.L." mark

Lawrence pre-1913 mark from pendant below.


His pieces are marked "F.W.L." or "F.W.LAWRENCE" or "F. WALTER LAWRENCE."  According to Zapata, in 1913 he and two cousins incorporated the company, and added an "INC." to all their work.  The piece below lacks this addition, and is presumably from the pre-1913 era.  It features a worked ovoid frame centering a carved lapis flower vase on a small onyx plinth.  Spilling over the top of the vase is an arc of five silver blossoms, each with a round bezel-set cabochon green stone at its center.  Surrounding the flowers are silver leaves, a small additional blossom, and curving silver ornament and silver ribbons that form a small bow below the bale.  The paperclip chain is finely made, alternating plain loops with delicate floriform links.


F. Walter Lawrence necklace, composed of silver pendant with stones and 
ornate  paperclip chain.  2-1/8" H and 1-5/8" W on 15-1/8" L chain.

F. Walter Lawrence necklace, composed of silver pendant with stones and

ornate  paperclip chain.  2-1/8" H and 1-5/8" W on 15-1/8" L chain.


F. Walter Lawrence necklace detail

Necklace detail


F. Walter Lawrence chain

Paperclip chain detail


Larence's holloware is also striking.  According to Zapata, "When Lawrence first offered silverware, he retailed the wares of prominent silversmiths. A covered bowl dating to 1900 in a private collection bears the hallmarks of Dominick and Haff (founded 1872) of New York City but is also stamped "F.W LAWRENCE" and bears an inscription on the underside…. At some point before 1910 Lawrence arranged that Lebkuecher and Company of Newark would make silver articles to his specifications. Some pieces bear Lebkuecher's hallmark of an L within the arc of a quarter moon, but all seem to be stamped with a four or five digit number, usually beginning with zero."


Below is such a plate with Lawrence's stamp and the Lebkuecher mark:


Lawrence plate, round, on small ring foot, with extensive chased and repoussé decoration, and Lebkuecher mark.

Lawrence footed plate with Lebkuecher mark


Plate, round, on small ring foot, with extensive chased and repoussé decoration.  Four groups of evenly spaced applied dimensional repoussé grapes, leaves, and vines at the edge, interspersed with four smaller groups.  Elaborate field of heavily worked chased leaves, grapes, vines, and line ornament covering the entire surface except for the center.  Applied worked repoussé border of irregular twigs around the edge. 10-1/4" W and 1-1/8" H.


Mark on Lawrence footed plate, with Lebkuecher stamp

Marks on Lawrence plate


While Zapata's article mentions that Lawrence retailed the work of Dominick and Haff, the salad set below contains Lawrence's stamp along with the mark of Currier & Roby:


Lawrence salad set with pineapple finials and Currier & Roby mark

Lawrence salad set with pineapple finials and Currier & Roby mark


Salad set, fork and spoon with large deep oval bowls, thick, tapering  handles, finial with three small stepped perpendicular disks and chased pointed pineapple at end.  Similar smaller disk ornament at bowl end.  Top of handle has five flat slightly rounded sides, while bottom is flat.  Curving cutouts on fork.  Heavy. 9-9/16" L and 2-1/2" W.


The salad set is marked with the Currier & Roby overlapping CR:


Currier & Roby mark on Lawrence salad set

Currier & Roby and Lawrence marks


Mirror-image pairs of saw-pierced hearts were a common Lawrence flatware design element.  The child's fork and spoon below, with an engraved "H.A.B. / III" on the handle of each, also have chased details:


Lawrence child's utensil set with pierced hearts

Child's set with saw-pierced hearts, 6" L.  Signed:  STERLING F. WALTER LAWRENCE


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