It would be a glaring omission to write about Arts & Crafts silver without mentioning Arthur Stone -- the two leading Arts & Crafts silversmiths in America were Stone in Massachusetts and Kalo in Chicago. Stone was born in England in 1847, and by 14 was apprenticed to a master silversmith. In 1884 he moved to the US, where he worked for Durgin, F.W. Smith, and J.P. Howard, before starting his own operation in 1901 in Gardner, Massachusetts.
Ciborium in silver gilt by George E. Germer; altar cross and candlesticks in silver gilt
designed by Ernest T. Jago, Goodhue Associates, executed by Arthur J. Stone for
George G. Booth Esq., Detroit (from The American Magazine of Art, 1928).
Stone, frequently referred to as the "Dean of American Silversmiths," was a supremely accomplished silversmith and chaser who produced a considerable amount of masterful holloware and flatware. He also believed in sharing the spotlight. Stone began hiring other silversmiths to work in his shop in 1906, and unlike some other larger operations such as the Kalo Shop, let them add their initial to the Stone mark (the word "Stone" with an outline of a hammer serving as the crossbar of the letter "t" and running through the entire name). In 1937 he sold the business, which was renamed Stone Associates.
This chicagosilver.com site doesn't have any examples of Stone's fine work. Stone and Kalo were prolific makers, and early on we decided to focus on Kalo rather than Stone. While both shops made lovely silver items, Kalo was more appealing to us because it produced jewelry as well as holloware and flatware, and because Kalo pieces (and Chicago silver in general) struck us as pure, elemental Arts & Crafts work. The planishing on Kalo pieces gleams and shimmers. The Kalo designs and execution are wonderful (so are Stone's). We do admire the amazing technical proficiency of Stone's output, and marvel at his chasing, but we had to draw the line somewhere, especially after discovering Boston Arts & Crafts jewelry by makers such as Oakes, Shaw, and Hale.
Handwrought tea set with reed fluting by Arthur J. Stone
(from The American Magazine of Art, 1916).
There are several terrific sources of information on Stone. The most comprehensive is a book by Elenita Chickering, Arthur J. Stone 1847-1938: Designer and Silversmith, published 1994 as a catalog of an exhibition of his work by the American Federation of Arts.
Much of the current understanding of Stone and his work is based on an important article by Anne Webb Karnaghan in the June, 1926 issue of The American Magazine of Art. The full text of this follows, along with the illustrations of his work from this piece:
"IN WESTERN Massachusetts, where the hills fold ever so gently one upon another, there is a mecca for lovers of beautiful handmade silver. It is a little up and down village -- Gardner, Massachusetts -- and on one of its scattered streets that leads up to the sky lives Arthur J. Stone, conceded by many to be America's first silversmith.
"It would be gratifying to claim America as his birthplace, but his life began in the famed old city of Sheffield, England, whose roots reach back to the days of Chaucer when the Canterbury pilgrim carried the "Sheffield thwytle" in his hose.
Porringer made for Julia Marlowe Sothern by Arthur J. Stone
"Such an environment as Sheffield is favorable to the development of craftsmen. It was a most natural thing for Arthur J. Stone, when a lad of fourteen, to become apprenticed to a silversmith, taking his pledge before three witnesses "to serve his said master faithfully, observe his lawful commands, keep his secrets...attend regularly and diligently to his affairs and interests...and in every respect conduct himself as an industrious and trustworthy apprentice." In return his master agreed to teach "or cause to be taught to him" the trade of designer, modeller and chaser.
"Judged by present-day standards, seven years of service with practically no financial return was a costly coin to give in return for the mastery of a trade. But those were days of sincere devotion to the great taskmistress -- Art.
"Arthur J. Stone was not content to become merely an expert worker in his field. He wanted to understand design and the traditions of his craft. Three evenings a week were spent at the National School of Design at Sheffield, an institution partly supported by the government and an offshoot of South Kensington. To pay for his tuition he worked overtime after completing the fifty-nine hours required of apprentices each week.
"Though his days were busy, he found time to familiarize himself with the works of the great masters of music, made possible by a piano acquired at considerable sacrifice by his widowed mother. He knew the writings of his day. Thus the foundations for a cultivated mind were laid early in youth, a qualification that has been vastly important in giving universality to his work in mature years.
Hot water kettle and teapot suggested by English models Arthur J. Stone
"At the close of his apprenticeship he spent a year in Edinburgh, where he was engaged for the first time in design. Many famous pieces of old silver sent for renovation passed through his hands, notably the silver plate of the House of Bute, hundreds of trays and plates, brought down to be put in order in honor of the coming of age of the young marquis. He returned to Sheffield, where he passed nine most satisfactory years. His well-trained hand became even more expert in the execution of repoussé work and fine fluting. He was commended by Ruskin for his acanthus work on a pair of twelve-¬light candelabras. The Ruskin Museum in Sheffield was a constant source of ideas for his alert mind. A superior collection of Albert Dürer engravings were among the most important influences that came into his life at this period.
"Repeated advertisements in English papers by American firms for skilled silversmiths led him finally to seek the more remunerative openings in this country. His attainment as a silversmith at the time he came to America is borne witness to by a little chocolate pot hall-marked 1874 now in possession of Mrs. Stone, acquired by her two years ago from the factory in Sheffield where for fifty years it had been kept on the desk of the head of the firm as an example of specimen work. The original, a French chocolate pot of conventional size and chased in high relief with incoherent ornament, had been placed by the head of the firm in Mr. Stone's hand for reproduction.
"It was this master workman who entered the commercial trade at Concord, N. H., with all its limitations and disappointments. A few years later he started a new department of a factory at Gardner, Massachusetts. The depth of poor taste in America was sounded in the latter part of the nineteenth century; the cry for luxury for everyone at the lowest possible price led to wholesale production of silver and other objects formerly hallowed by fine workmanship.
"There was little regard for beauty of design, for significance of ornamentation or quality of workmanship. Such a state of affairs led Mr. Stone, in 1901, to take his courage in his own hands and to start a shop for himself.
"The first exhibition of The Society of Arts and Crafts, Boston, suggested a field of endeavor for him. He joined the Society and through its appreciative helpfulness soon won recognition for his work. For many years he has been a valued member of the Society and is now one of three vice-presidents. He was one of the first three members to be awarded a medal at the time the custom was instituted by the Society, and the first silversmith to be so honored.
Center dish and candlesticks made as a set by Arthur J. Stone
"During the first five years of independent work he did only what he could execute single-handed. But at the end of that period the demand for flat silver had so grown that he employed a full-time hollow ware worker and a full-time spoon man. Today he has a force of twelve men, eight of whom qualify as master craftsmen. His shop is a model of its kind. It is operated on a profit-sharing basis, each workman receiving once in six months a part of the profits of that period. Stone silver is always marked with the name Stone, a hammer forming the cross of the "t," and beside this trademark is impressed the initial of the craftsman who assisted in making the piece -- an old Roman custom adopted by Mr. Stone.
"The shop adjoins his home. It was formerly the barn. The upper half is devoted to Mr. Stone's own work...to his studios for designing and for chasing. In an adjoining room, records, drawings, correspondence, business papers are kept by a secretary. In the lower half of the building is "the shop" where shining anvils, tools that bear a polish that only comes through continued use, workmen with leather aprons, lathes, innumerable little punches and files, sheets of silver, mallets of hickory, maple or the rarer buffalo horn bring to mind the settings which imagination has constructed for the first metal workers of medieval times...with this exception that never could such conditions of lighting, ventilation and cleanliness prevail then as is now found in this model shop of the twentieth century.
"The silversmith is not obliged to get his metal in the rough today. It is purchased in sheets by commercial silversmiths and handworkers alike -- of a sterling standard used almost without a change for more than five hundred years. The different results obtained depend upon the handling of these sheets of metal. The significance of this was impressed upon me by a skilled workman who demonstrated the first shaping of a tray from the flat material. The sureness of his hammer strokes, the grace and freedom of his arm swing, developed through years of doing his task correctly, would make a fit subject for a poem did poets indulge in such homely themes in this sophisticated age. The final result of such trained work is the scintillating surface of beautifully wrought silver with its almost imperceptible hammer marks.
Reproduction by Arthur J. Stone of tankard
Boston Museum of Fine Arts
"In his studio above the shop, Mr. Stone talked of traditions and sources of inspiration. "I believe I am safe in saying that all the silversmiths of the present generation have gone to the Greeks for their outlines in hollow ware," he said. "And why not?" he smiled, "The Greeks went to nature, and nature is, after all, the best source for design. One should not copy, however, but adapt." And he placed in my hand a little piece of paper on which was drawn, ever so delicately, a beautiful design. "I'm often working when I don't seem to be," he said a bit apologetically, as though life and work were of such importance that he could not conscientiously waste any of it. "Now this little design was adapted from this," and he placed before me a page of illustrations of frost crystals. His drawing was not a copy of the exquisite object of nature, but a glorified design adapted to the requirements of a little silver dish.
"He took from his bookcase a worn volume of "A Handbook of Plant Forms" by Ernest E. Clark, in which stamens, pistils, petals and other botanical structures were pictured in thousands or illustrations. "Nature and Ornament," by Lewis F. Day, stood beside it. There were other books with rare bindings, fine illustrations and a store of information to which Mr. Stone acknowledges indebtedness for inspirations.
"His open mind is ever ready to receive and assimilate the best. Suggestions are found in pottery or porcelain, as in his own original design for a silver service of great simplicity and rare beauty adapted from old porcelain. In a small copper plaque of Joseph Jefferson the finely modelled features of the great actor are masterfully accomplished by a method suggested by an etching that hangs on the wall of his home. The contour of a silver vase, wrought from one piece of silver, was inspired by a Greek piece, but its finely chased decoration was suggested by a pool of growing arrowhead. Three rippling lines encircling the base suggest the water and at intervals rise three stems bearing the conventionalized leaves; alternating are sprays of three flowers with gold centers. An elegant restraint characterizes the work, which is thoroughly adapted to its purpose of holding flowers. One of the most familiar means of decoration in Stone bowls is by the use of fluting. One of the first inspirations for this feature came from an English bowl sent to him many years ago by Professor Theodore Woolsey of Yale with the instruction to "make any use of it you wish."
Silver salver by Arthur J. Stone
Owned by George G. Booth
"Mr. Stone's silver quite naturally falls into three groups -- the Ecclesiastical, the Presentation and the Domestic. The first two groups are more spectacular than the third, but his greatest. influence is felt in the more homely field of domestic work.
"The Pyx-Ciborium in the Church of the Advent, Boston, is his most important ecclesiastical piece to be executed so far. It is considered by critics to be a worthy successor to the magnificent Gothic church pieces of the Renaissance and was designed by that noted exponent of Gothic today, Mr. Frank E. Cleveland, of the architectural firm of Cram, Goodhue and Ferguson. The design was adapted to the requirements of metal by Mr. Stone and wrought in 18-carat gold. It follows the reliquaries of the late Venetian Gothic period and is wrought with true inspiration into full magnificence with overlaid ornamentation of foliage, traceries and precious stones. Another noted church work is a cross, now in St. Thomas' in Chicago.
"A notable presentation piece is the President Eliot cup given by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of Harvard University in 1904, on the occasion of President Eliot's seventieth birthday anniversary. It was adapted from a Greek carchesium of the fifth century B. C. The great dignity of this cup, the exquisite proportions and thorough adaptability to its purpose characterize all Mr. Stone's presentation pieces, whether they meet the more restrained requirements of scholarship or the less circumscribed needs of commercial or athletic trophies. His breadth of culture makes it possible for him to enter into the spirit of his subject and to create something entirely fitting the occasion.
"As important as such works are, it is Mr. Stone's domestic silver that challenges one's greatest interest. This is a generation of collectors, seeking treasures of the past to enhance the joy of home life today and for generations to come. But the revival of interests in the handicrafts and the development of master craftsmen make it possible today to acquire objects of much beauty adapted to modern needs. Mr. Stone has been called a worthy successor to Paul Revere. He is, rather, another important link in the chain of great metalworkers that reaches back to the middle ages. He builds on the best traditions of the past but is thoroughly modern in spirit.
"His domestic pieces meet all requirements of comfort and utility. Pots pour without spilling; handles are comfortable to grasp; bowls, pitchers, pots always set firmly on generous bases. He understands practical requirements perfectly and to this adds a rare sense of proportion and outline, a beauty of finish and a restraint in the use of ornament that is peculiarly his own.
"Many persons speak of "Stone finish," but all proper finish, Mr. Stone says, involves the same processes. The fireskin that comes from constant annealing must be removed. Blemish marks from the file and hammer must be taken out and the surface polished. The final result, it is needless to conclude, depends largely upon the sureness of swing of the silversmith's arm and of his eye in bringing the piece to its finished form.
"The English tradition, thoroughness and integrity of workmanship underlie all of Mr. Stone's work. To this has been added the stimulating influence of America. When he first came to this country his dream was to return to England and establish a shop there. With each visit, however, the breach became wider until finally the transition was complete. He found that his work was more individual, more independent in America than would have been possible in more conventional England. He had absorbed the American spirit. Today we may safely characterize Stone silver as American.
Tea-set made for Julia Marlowe Sothern by Arthur J. Stone
"A number of illustrations accompanying this article suggest the lines and proportions that distinguish his work. Of particular charm is the silver service adapted from the Paul Revere silver in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The outlines of Mr. Stone's pieces are surer and there are subtle changes that a man of his attainments, living in a later age, would unconsciously make. The Julia Marlowe Sothern silver, a few pieces of which are illustrated, is an achievement gratifying alike to that distinguished lady and to the no less distinguished artist who designed it. In many homes, large and small, domestic silver from the little Gardner shop is adding to the stabilizing influence of home life.
"It is good for America to have such citizens as Arthur J. Stone. As years pass, the heritage of Stone silver, marked with its quaint silversmith's hammer, will be cherished as worthy contributions to the art of this twentieth century."
Bowl, presentation, classic Revere form with engraved "MRS. THOMAS ALLEN / FROM
THE / MASSACHUSETTS ANTI-SUFFRAGE COMMITTEE / NOVEMBER 2, 1915 /
DUX FEMINA FACTI" on side. 7-1/4" W and 3-1/8" H.
Marked: [Stone mark] STONE / STERLING / C
There's a small sample of Stone's work here:
You can read about what it was like to work in Stone's shop from an account by Herman W. Glendenning, a silversmith who started working for Stone at the age of eight (and had to dodge child labor inspectors):