We hope to use this site to post information about the Gorham Manufacturing Company and its products that we are uncovering as work proceeds on the IMLS-funded project in which the Brown University Library, the Museum of the Rhode Island School of Design and the RISD Library are collaborating to design a database for the Gorham Company Archive. (For more about the project, see our interim project website). The IMLS project represents the first tiny step in the very long process to arrange the Gorham Comany Archive so as to provide better access to its content for all interested users at Brown and RISD. This process is going to take years, so please be patient with us!
The Gorham Company Archive is an immense resource documenting more than a century and a half of the manufacture of silver products in the city of Providence, Rhode Island, and a briefer but no less distinguished history of bronze casting. At the turn of the 20th century, Gorham products had achieved world-wide renown for quality and innovation. Not the least of its innovations was its devotion to photography. Gorham was an early adopter of the new science of photography and had established its own photography studio at the Steeple Street plant in Providence by the 1850s; in fact, the archive has samples of a wide range of photographic techniques. However, Gorham’s principle achievement was a line of hand-hammered silver holloware that it called Martele, which it introduced in the 1890s. Because Martele was unique to Gorham, we have selected it as a focus for the work we are now doing for the grant project, which is to say that when we get around to mounting images on the web Martele will be the first to go up. It also means that is the portion of the collection about which we are most knowledgeable at the moment.
I think that’s where we’ll close for now. We hope to continue adding interesting tidbits as they develop.