Arts & Crafts Monograms / Orno Shop -- One of the most distinctive features of many Arts & Crafts decorative objects is the addition of personalized monograms to the surface. These were applied (cut out separately and soldered on), engraved (scribed into the surface with a sharp tool), or even saw-pierced and cut out like the monogram (and the decorative rim) of the Bellis bowl shown here:
Sterling bowl by John O. Bellis showing saw-pierced "D" monogram (top)
Makers such as Kalo, Lebolt, and Friedell were known for their artful monograms, which were often complex geometric knot-like constructions that added a small but dramatic element to the design. Unfortunately, some benighted collectors and dealers don't like monograms because they're someone else's initials, and have them removed. This barbaric practice usually disfigures the object, and takes away part of its personality and original form.
In a 1914 issue of The Industrial Arts Magazine, H. R. Sorensen discusses how applied monograms -- the best kind -- are made. Sorensen, a former Kalo silversmith, was owner of the Orno Shop in DeKalb, Illinois. Very little is known about this shop, and pieces from it are extremely rare. The ones shown here are the first we've seen.
Jewelry from the Orno Shop is rare to the point of being almost nonexistent.
The intertwined initials in the Orno monograms below, while a bit coarse, are fascinating decorative additions to the objects they adorn. Monograms like this showed wide variation in style and construction.
Monograms (from fobs) by the Orno Shop
Compare the Randahl and Kalo pitchers shown below to see how different kinds of monograms -- engraved on the Randahl piece and applied on the Kalo pitcher -- can add different levels of visual interest.
Randahl pitcher with engraved monogram and similar Kalo pitcher with applied monogram
The Industrial Arts Magazine cover for this issue is also a handsome work of art. The woodblock-like illustration artful typography are typical of the period, and distinguish this otherwise pedestrian publication.
Industrial Arts Magazine Cover
Many magazines of the era provided hands-on, how-to information. Getting your hands dirty was a lot more acceptable in social circles back then if the effort was directed at producing art.