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Pepper Shaker

Decorative Arts and Design

On View: Luce Visible Storage and Study Center, 5th Floor
The vegetable-shaped salt and pepper shakers and the curvilinear flask are splendid examples of the Aesthetic Movement style, which appeared strikingly new and modern to consumers at the time. The form of the shakers was inspired by realistic Japanese metal objects with which Americans were just becoming familiar, and their maker used a newly invented process to patinate the silver to resemble weathered copper. The irregular, ergonomic contour and dense Southwestern landscape of the flask would have also seemed quite daring to the original purchaser. In contrast, the all-over, hard-edged design of the later flask evokes the emerging, dynamic skyscraper skyline of big cities, and the unadorned, pyramidal forms of the later salt and pepper shakers have a timeless quality. While all of these objects were progressive when made, only the later ones still speak the language of modern design.
MEDIUM Copper, silver
DATES ca. 1881
DIMENSIONS 2 x 3 1/2 x 21/4 in. (5.1 x 8.9 x 5.7 cm)  (show scale)
MARKINGS Impressed on bottom, near stem: "[anchor in shield] / GORHAM CO / 1840 / N"
CREDIT LINE H. Randolph Lever Fund
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Copper and silver pepper shaker with silver stopper. Patinated copper alloy body realistically modeled as a three-lobed quince supported on its side by a short length of copper stem. Sprouting from the stem are two silver leaves, one large, one small, that wrap partially around the body. Silver stopper: On the front surface of quince in the form of a blossom with five petals; this is removable for filling shaker and is pierced with small holes. CONDITION: Wear and discoloration to patination. Small dents on upper lobes of fruit and one small dent on bottom lobe.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Luce Visible Storage and Study Center, 5th Floor
CAPTION Gorham Manufacturing Company (1865–1961). Pepper Shaker, ca. 1881. Copper, silver, 2 x 3 1/2 x 21/4 in. (5.1 x 8.9 x 5.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, H. Randolph Lever Fund, 1998.3.2. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: , 1998.3.1_1998.3.2a-b.jpg)
IMAGE group, 1998.3.1_1998.3.2a-b.jpg.
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