Toast Rack

Gorham Manufacturing Company American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 774

The mid-nineteenth century witnessed an efflorescence of creativity in the American silver industry, fueled by the burgeoning middle class’s increasing demand for refined luxury goods. Silversmiths devoted considerable time and creative energy to generating an endless variety of new designs and patterns. During the 1860s and 1870s silver flatware ornamented with portrait medallions inspired by antique coins and cameos enjoyed widespread popularity, with virtually every American silversmith producing their own proprietary "medallion" pattern. Gorham Manufacturing Company’s designer George Wilkinson patented a medallion flatware pattern in 1864, and the quantity and variety of surviving silver in this pattern attest to its success. Medallions from this flatware pattern ornament the toast rack (.4) as well as a tea set (.1-.3) and goblet (.5) in the American Wing’s collection. Surviving examples of American silver toast racks are exceedingly rare. Indeed, the only other toast racks found in the American Wing’s collection are made of iron (10.125.602-604, 13.142.10, and 34.100.197). This object would have been proudly displayed and used on the table as a testament to its owner’s taste and sophistication.

Toast Rack, Gorham Manufacturing Company (American, Providence, Rhode Island, 1831–present), Silver, American

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