Lake Maxinkuckee Its Intrigue History & Genealogy Culver, Marshall, Indiana

Culver Military Academy Mess Hall Silver  

The term attached to these silver serving pieces is Hotel Silver or Restaurant Silver and can also be termed as Steamship or Railroad Silver in those instances, the history detail of this type of silver is below.

Belows is the start of the mess hall silver I have - I was told by David that it was used in the Mess hall on the tables - The pieces I have are the large serving bowl #5; sugar bowl #22, 1 sugar & creamer set #16, and one water or milk pitcher #26- what else there was I am not sure - these are the only pieces I have ever seen.

A 1965 graduate writes:
    Yes, these sugar bowls were used in the Mess All as well as the Culver Inn. I am a 1965 graduate of the Academy and remember using them. Yes, there were water pitchers, and they were not as sturdy or heavy as the cream and sugar. They appeared to be made out of more like a tin metal [the one I have says it is 96 oz. and its rim is the same thickness of the sugar bowl and creamer, JEB].

    Before 1960, the Mess Hall employed black waiters to serve the cadets their meals. Each waiter was responsible for a section of tables and the silver pieces on the tables. The tables were numbered and the bottom of the silver pieces were stamped with the corresponding table and section number. These pieces were periodically inventoried (don't know how often) and if any of them turned up missing, the waiter's pay was docked. If too many showed up missing under a waiter's station, then he wo uld be fired.

    There may have been a large bowl - I don't remember them. I have a large bowl, what I call a soup tureen with ladle. That may be what your talking about. I'll take pictures and send them to you along with my cream and sugar. I also have a sterling silver sugar shell of the old Culver silver pattern that I show with my sugar bowl.

Engraved on the bottom is Culver Military Acadmey Gorham Silver soldered there is looks what to be an anchor with E - P on each side as such this was their mark for silver plate or electroplate.

Electroplate pure silver coats base metals when electrical currents pass through a plating bath, creating the deposits and the term "Silver Soldered" appears on each. Solder to attach bases, bowl bodies, fittings or handles by fusing metallic surfaces together with a soldering iron. Thus Silver was used to solder the parts of the pieces together. and these items are classified as "Hollowware" which Lenox (Gorham) descrides as being any clayware, glass or metal pieces such as cups, pitchers, bowls generally serving items as opposed to flatware.

The numbers of 013478 for the large bowl/tureen; 013477 for the pitcher; 013479 for the sugar; and 013480 for the creamer are assumed to be the item # or pattern #.

Also on the bottom is the Date Code a symbol as a part of thes "date code" of which on all the peices I have when facing the bowl on the right looks to be a mushroom, which I have found to be the date stamp and if I read the date chart of Gorham right it was manufactured in 1928.

The large bowl - which one says is a soup tureen bears the numbers of 013478, besides the weight 150 oz. which caculates out to be 9.375 pounds roughly; besides these numbers there is also and engraving of "5" which was not factory made, the others are. It is 10 3/4" across, 4 3/4" deep and stands 5 1/2" high off the table these as as accurate as can be stated. The inside shows it has been well used over the years.

The many sides of an abused pitcher - - The story is that the cadets loved to toss the pitchers around the dining hall - so the one I have is dinged up pretty well. It looks as if it had a lid on it ar one time but unknown why it was removed but the 3 set hinge is not damaged nor bent that I can tell which to me indicates that the lid was removed purposely. It stands 8 3/4" high at back by handle and there in measures 5 3/4" (not to lip) and is 8 1/2 inches deep inside. I could count 42-3 dents or dings; plus minor small dings and scratches; besides the base being shoved into pitcher which is evidenced in the pictures [it sho uld resemble the base of the sugar and creamer I would think] Yet from all this abuse of being tossed it still holds water!

It bears the Gorham stamp as you will see which is on all pieces - only the weight and #'s are different this says 96 oz. [this is roughly 6 pounds], 013477 and bears the inscribed # of 26.

The Creamer is 3 1/2" high; 3 1/8" deep inside, and 2 3/4" wide is its weight is 12 oz. and #013480 and bears an engraving number of "16" not by factory. Of interesting note on Ebay today 19 April 2009 was a similar creamer with out the rimed edge, handle being the near same and the base looked basically the same as these items though bearing a different year symbol - the elephant which is 1930 by the chart above and the weight oz. and item # and is listed as: "Gorham 6 ounce Creamer Stands 3 1/4" Tall 2 1/2 Diameter. The Bottom Reads 'Downtown A.C N.Y' Gorham E P Silver Soldered 014057 There Is a Picture of An Anchor In The Center An Anchor In The Center And An Elephant On The Side. The Front Is A Circle With D A C in The Center"the "buy it now" price was listed at $45.89 and postage at $12.95!

The sugar is 3" high, 5 1/3" wide and 2 1/2" deep. is its weight 16 oz. and assuming lid is included in that, #013479 [all three bear this #] and bears an engraving number of "22" not by factory

This is an example of the markings on the bottoms.

When brand new, sparkling and shining that they must of been a sight for sore eyes on all the tables in the mess hall. For now they are mine - and they have been collecting dust and tarnish over the years sitting in the bottom of the china closet.

Hotel or Restaurant Silver

I did some inquiring with a seller/collector of railroad/restaurant/hotel silver and reply was: "Yes, those are very rare pieces. Just about anything from Culver when is comes to dining items is sought after".

Hotel/Restaurant Silver, has become a very pop ular area of collecting and interest. Hotel silver was made to last the ages. And it's virtual indestructibility its durable copper composition with a heavy plate of silver soldered - nickel silver made the piece not only durable to last several years, but also exquisite in its appearance.

Even the smallest hotels could have marked silver plate, which included their name or logo on the side or top, or an item may have just been marked with the hotel's name on the bottom. This is also one of the characteristics that make hotel silver so dynamic.

Many of the silver plate manufacturer's records of what hotels, restaurants, lunch counters, etc., ordered marked silver plate are forever lost. Therefore, the responsibility of discovery now rests with the collectors and researchers of hotel silver to rediscover these the lost hotel history.
Most hotel silver was marked with the hotel's logo, name, or markings by the manufacture. However, some hotels did elect to have unmarked silver plate that did not have their name or crest upon a piece, and even some wo uld have their local jeweler or engraver individually mark their pieces.

Today Gorham is a wholly owned subsidiary of Lenox, Inc.

About the company - The company moved into a new headquarters in Providence, RI in 1890. Gorham utilized a numbering system for identifying its works and dates of production until 1898 at which point it was expanded to use letters as well in various prefex and suffix forms- properly dating and identifying Gorham patterns requires a good reference book or the assistance of an expert.
    Gorham assigned production numbers to hollowware from the product's earliest days in the 1850s. This numbering system, which was continued until 1898, did not assign a discrete number to a design or implement. Nor can one tell the date of manufacture from a production number...

    Tea Sets and some other standard hollowware items such as pitchers were assigned numbers in a decimal sequence, so the earliest design of a tea set was assigned the number ten, the second twenty, and so forth...

    Adoption for its products, on 1 May 1868, of the English sterling standard of .925% silver is probably the cause for the addition of a date stamp: Gorham provided a certificate offering a money-back guarantee on the purity of its sterling ware. Pieces without a date stamp predate the guarantee, so someone trying to turn in an undated tea service wo uld have been refused an exchange.

    By 1868 ... Production records were centralized, with costing records and photographs keyed to the production number stamped on a piece.

    The numbering system for sterling hollowware (as well as the costing records in ledger books, and file photographs pasted into albums) remained the same until early 1898, at which time new procedures were introduced. In addition to the numbering system the letter 'A' was added as a prefix to indicate sterling production hollowware related to dining...

    This system using the 'A' prefix was continued until about 1930, when a new system of costing was introduced. After that year, and certainly after 1932, letter prefixes were dropped and number-only production codes were reinstated.

    In 1934...the date code was dropped, but was resumed again in 1941 for the possible reason that, as the Company had a repair policy, without a date on a piece it was difficult to establish whether damage was the result of normal wear-- the customer thus bearing charges for the work-- or should be treated as under warranty and repaired at no cost.

By this bit of information - I wo uld say these pieces date 1898 or before - as there are no letters in the numbers. The only letters are on either side of the anchor "E" and "P"; and probably stand for "electroplating" I assume. The numbers also by what information thus found is a production number and possible can be traced. Assumption is that it bears no "date code". It could be that the "O" in the number is not a "Zero" but the letter "O".

Gorham has been sold and reorganized several times prior to being purchased by Lenox, Inc. in the late 1980's. When Gorham moved its offices, headquarters and manufacturing facilities to new locations, the Gorham Archives were donated by Textron, a former corporate owner, to Brown University in Rhode Island. From their catalog desccription:
    Gorham Company Records - Archival records (approximately 1,000 linear feet, dating from 1831 to 1986) of the company founded in 1831 by silversmith Jabez Gorham of Providence, Rhode Island. At various times the company was the largest manufacturer of silver products, producer and distributor of ecclesiastical goods, and art bronze foundry in the United States. The collection features many thousands of drawings and photographs of Gorham products, reflecting American taste from Victorian times to the present. It also contains corporate, personnel, costing, sales, and advertising records, as well as blueprints, plaster casts, and copper printing plates. Included also are the records of fourteen companies acquired by Gorham prior to being acquired itself--first by Textron Inc., then by Dansk International. ...more information

Charles H. Carpenter, Jr. Gorham Silver 1831-1981. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1982. Reprinted in 1997 by Alan Wofsy Fine Arts with some updated information.

Dorothy T. Rainwater. Encyclopedia of American Silver Manufacturers. 4th edition, revised. West Chester, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1998.

But I doubt that any information on these pieces would be in these books - I am assuming this was a special design and special commissioned work just for the Culver Military Academy - I might be wrong and it co uld be a common pattern sold to others than just CMA.

Another set of Silver has surfaced Culver Military Academy Sugar and Creamer, Both are ornately engraved 'Culver '. each each item bears a different maker's name.

Creamer is marked Manhattan Silver Plate (in a star) Quadruple Plate (in a sliver moon) 112. Creamer is round on top and oval on the base, 3.5" tall with a top diameter of 3".
Their silver marks were:

Manhattan Silver Plate, (Lyons, New York),total capital stock was purchased by The International Silver Company which was organized under the laws of the State of New Jersey on 19 November 1898 as well as several other silver companies.

The Manhattan Silver Plate Co. was incorporated in 1877 as Manhattan Plating Co. The company moved to Lyons, N.Y. in 1889 or 90. A good bit of merchandise was exported to South America and Australia. In 1898, this firm also became part of the International Silver Co. and stopped using their trademark after 1904.

The Sugar is marked Homan Mfg. Company warranted quadruple plate made in USA (anchor in oval frame). Additional mark shows smelting cup and special metal. Sugar is oval, 4" tall, 3.25" deep and 7.5" wide including handles.

The silver mark described above is:

There is three more silver marks for the Homan Manufacturing Company.
    The Homan Manufacturing Company has a history dating back to 1847. Henry Homan and Asa F. Flagg formed a partnership in Cincinnati, Ohio, for the manufacture of pewter wares. Homan & Co. pieces were often marked "Flagg & Homan", at that time. After Henry died, his widow and sons ran the firm until 1887. During this period, they changed over a great deal of their production to electroplating with silver and sometimes gold.

    Homan & Co., became known for ecclesiastical designs (chalices, beakers, tankards, etc.). They also had commissions from Ohio - Mississippi river boats for equipment ranging from swivel lamps to water pitchers.

    In 1896, the firm was listed as the Homan Silver Plate Co., and between 1904 and 1915, they became the Homan Mfg. Co. They were out of business by 1941.

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