Some of my stained glass mosaics are set in vintage, silver plated trays. The heyday for silver plated trays in the United States was from 1850 to 1940. Now, many of these trays, once popular, sit discarded in thrift shops. They served a purpose in an earlier time. Although the trays show age and usage, they have character and a history.
A distinguishing part of that history is the manufacturer’s mark, etched on the back of the tray. Today, many of the manufacturers who designed and made the silver plated trays are no longer in business. But their mark still exists
The mark on the back of this silver plated, serving tray identifies the maker of the tray as the Glastonbury Silver Company, Chicago. The company, no longer in business, was active from 1920 to 1950. Mark is shown below.
The mark on the back of this tray identifies the Gorham Manufacturing, a well-known name in silver and silver plating, was responsible for making the tray. The Gorham company was founded in 1831 in Rhode Island and later in the 1960’s was sold to Textron.
Stained glass is a painter’s medium, colored and translucent. The glass plays with the light from dawn to dusk. It is always changing, responding to different conditions, from bright sunshine to rain clouds. It is a natural painter’s medium, a dance of light, glass and color.
Vintage, silver plated trays are not fashionable. They sit discarded in second hand stores. However, I find them to be wonderful items that can be converted into colorful, luminous abstract art pieces, decorative and functional.
The Newport Abstract began with a vintage, silver plated tray made by Gorham Manufacturing; the mark, Newport Gorham, is stamped on the back. The image, below, shows the initial look of the tray, used and tarnished.
With work, the tray is converted into the Newport Abstract . It was essential that the surface of the tray to be highly polished to reflect light as it passes through the glass. This gives the piece a deep, luminous feel. The tray’s rim and handles frame the stained glass mosaic, adding a sculptural element.