Posts Tagged 'Silver'

Shaken AND Stirred

Whether you like your adult beverage shaken or stirred, we think you’ll enjoy this. A celebration of over 100 years of cocktail ware design, Shaken, Stirred, Styled: The Art of the Cocktail opens at the Dallas Museum of Art this Friday, November 18, during the DMA’s Late Night event. Organized chronologically and divided into sections that correspond to major shifts in the consumption of cocktails, the exhibition features nearly 60 works drawn primarily from the Museum’s collection. It explores the relationships between political, social, and economic currents, developments in technology, quotidian practices of consumption, and design styles. An interactive display prompts visitors to explore the history of spirits and cocktails alongside that of the vessels in which they were prepared and served. Below are a few highlights paired with historically accurate cocktails included in the exhibition’s interactive display. Cheers!


“Skyscraper” cocktail shaker, cups, and tray, William Waldo Dodge, designer, 1928–31, silver, Dallas Museum of Art, The Patsy Lacy Griffith Collection, gift of Patsy Lacy Griffith by exchange, 2008.48.1–12

It would not be surprising if this monumental skyscraper-inspired cocktail shaker once held the ingredients of the Sidecar, one of the most popular cocktails during Prohibition.

The origin of the Sidecar—a shaken mixture of cognac, orange liqueur, and lemon juice, served in a sugar-rimmed cocktail glass—is debated, but commonly believed to be Paris or London at the conclusion of World War I (1914–18). Whatever its origin, the Sidecar quickly crossed the Atlantic and conquered the speakeasies in the newly “dry” United States.


Penguin cocktail shaker, Emile A. Schuelke, designer, Napier Company, manufacturer, Meriden, Connecticut, 1936, gilded silverplate, Dallas Museum of Art, The Jewel Stern American Silver Collection, gift of Jewel Stern, 2002.29.8.a–b

The owner of this gold-accented, silver-plated Penguin cocktail shaker, touted by its manufacturer as the “master of ceremonies at successful parties,” may have utilized it to shake Daiquiris, which peaked in popularity in the 1930s.

Despite possible antecedents native to Cuba, the Daiquiri as it is known today—a shaken mixture of white rum, lime juice, and simple syrup—was first recorded by American mining engineer Jennings Cox in 1902. The Daiquiri shares its moniker with the Taíno (indigenous peoples of the Caribbean) name for a beach near Santiago de Cuba.


Circa ’70 pitcher-mixer with mixer spoon, Gorham Manufacturing Company, Providence, Rhode Island, designed 1960, silver and ebony, Dallas Museum of Art, The Jewel Stern American Silver Collection, Decorative Arts Fund, 2002.29.68.a–b)

This futuristic Circa ’70 beverage mixer was likely used to stir dry gin Martinis in the 1960s.

Like the Manhattan, the Martini is a spirit-based and vermouth and bitters-laced cocktail that originated in the 19th century. It appeared in print in Jerry Thomas’s How to Mix Drinks, published in 1862. While 19th-century recipes recommend sweet vermouth, by the 1950s dry vermouth was mixed with dry gin and orange bitters and then poured into a classic cocktail glass.

Samantha Robinson is the Interim Assistant Curator of Decorative Arts and Design at the DMA.


Toasting the New Year

Wishing everyone a safe and happy new year!

Sarah Coffey
Education Coordinator

Installing Opulence

The amazing results of our conservation project (which we discussed here) to restore the DMA’s Wittgenstein Vitrine to its original beauty can now be seen as of this Saturday, November 15, in the DMA’s Conservation Gallery. Modern Opulence in Vienna: The Wittgenstein Vitrine will not only put a major spotlight on this masterwork of 20th-century design but also provide information on the remarkable conservation efforts, additional work by Wittgenstein Vitrine designer Carl Otto Czeschka, his work for the Wiener Werkstätte, and the important patronage of the Wittgenstein family. Check out the installation process below, and if you want to learn more about this one-of-a kind work of art you can attend Saturday’s symposium; event details are online at
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Friday Photos: Eccentric Silver

One of my favorite games to play is “Guess the function of a decorative arts object!” This Friday, I’ve included some of the most eccentric tableware pieces in the DMA’s silver collection, like this epic pickle jar, stand, and tongs!

James W. Tufts Co. (manufacturer), Pickle jar on stand with tongs, c. 1885, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of W.C. and Sally Estes in memory of Dr. and Mrs. T.G. Estes

Click on an image to uncover the unique purpose for which it was originally intended.  Enjoy!

Pilar Wong
McDermott Intern for Community Teaching

21 Years of Silver Supper

This past Friday was the 21st anniversary of Silver Supper, an annual event that celebrates the DMA’s outstanding holdings of American decorative arts and silver. This year’s Silver Supper highlighted thirty-two works from the DMA’s decorative arts and design collection. For more information on the annual event, visit the DMA’s website.








Decorative Dining

Everyone needs to eat, right?

We spend plenty of time thinking about what we are going to have for dinner every day, but how often do you think about the objects that contain, serve or cut your food? In the age of the microwave and the drive-thru, it may seem crazy to think about breaking out your finest silver pieces to serve dinner. To wealthy and upper middle-class Americans during the Victorian era (or more specifially, The Gilded Age) the practice of dining was an art, and fine silver was a key component.

Let’s start with an example of how Mrs. Maria Dewing suggests a proper dinner table should be set in her helpful guide, Beauty in the Household, published in 1882.

Image from Maria Richards Dewing’s Beauty in the Household (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1882), page 72.

As you can see, even a small gathering without servants (gasp!) called for a very specific placement of dishes. It is, then, no surprise that such great care was taken in the appearance of the serving utensils and dishes. Not only was there a specific placement of the pieces, but they were also often decorated and designed in accordance with their function.

Here are a few flatware examples from one of the largest (it totaled about 1,250 pieces) and grandest (it was made from a half ton of silver) dinner and dessert service that Tiffany & Co. made in the 1870s:

Egg Spoons

Oyster forks

Grape scissors

Asparagus tongs

Salt spoons

Marrow spoons

Melon knives

Berry spoons

We feel stressed today if we use the wrong fork for our salad — can you imagine being forced to choose between an egg spoon and a berry spoon? Well-bred Victorians would have known the difference.

Luckily, if they had a moment of doubt, the silver designers often provided hints as to how the item may be used. The DMA’s Decorative Arts collection has some wonderful examples of these types of silverware.

Sometimes, specific foods were incorporated into the designs.

Gorham Manufacturing Company, Ice Bowl (with spoon), c.1871, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc.

George W. Shiebler and Company, "Grass" Pattern Sardine Server, c. 1880-1890, Dallas Museum of Art, The V. Stephan Vaughan Collection, gift of the 1991 Silver Supper

Others may subtly hint at the type of food for which they were used.

R. Wallace and Sons Manufacturing Company, Ice Cream Slice, c. 1880-1890, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Dr. and Mrs. Dale Bennett

John R. Wendt & Company, Cheese Knife, c. 1870, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Dr. and Mrs. Dale Bennett

On the other hand, designers did not always give such helpful hints. Instead, they creatively designed an item using influences from non-food related objects.

Both of the items below have very specific uses; what do you think they are? Leave your ideas in a comment and I will provide the answers in the comment section next week!

Left: Gorham Manufacturing Company, c.1880, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Dr. and Mrs. Dale Bennett Right: B.D. Beiderhase & Co., 1872, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Dr. and Mrs. Dale Bennett

While most Victorian families may not have purchased such whimsical silver pieces as these, the widespread market for silver gave designers the freedom to create wonderfully dynamic works of art that we can marvel over today at the DMA.

Bon Appétit!

Jessica Kennedy

McDermott Intern for Gallery Teaching

Friday Photo Post

For this week’s Friday Photo Post, I focused on works of art in the collection made of silver and gold. I decided to do this after singing Silver and Gold from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on the way to work. All objects can be found on the third floor of the Museum.

Amy Wolf
Coordinator of Gallery Teaching

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