Repoussé Style Over the Years

Baltimore is the home of extraordinary silver traditions, particularly the repoussé floral motifs found in flatware, table pieces, vanity items and jewelry.

Repoussé began as an ancient metal working technique, involving malleable silver first formed with a specially created three-dimensional mold and then further refined by hammering from the reverse side and adding detail to the front. The finished work was intricate, with grooves, indentation and channeling. It was then carefully polished as an eye-catching treasure.

Repousse' ChasingIn the 1800’s and the early 1900’s, American silver companies bustled with activity, updating repoussé methods for silver throughout the home. Flatware was collected, piece by piece, throughout a girl’s lifetime.

“In that era, daily lives had touches of elegance– like my great grandmother’s gorgeous silver cuticle pusher covered in repoussé roses. Not exactly what you’d get at Rite Aid.”- Carolyn O’Keefe

Sterling repoussé jewelry was given at birth, weddings, graduations and other special occasions and then passed down through generations. As bestowed, these treasures were often accompanied by family stories of generations of owners…connecting the recipient to women of the past.

Currently, an exhibition is on view at Evergreen Museum and Library of the Johns Hopkins University entitled Repoussé Style Then and Now: The Art of Michael Izrael Galmer. Listen to the eminent scholar James Abbott, curator and director of Evergreen, talk about how repoussé has evolved, Michael’s role in that progression and the revival of interest in repoussé.

Gilded Age Preferred Stieff RoseToday, America’s wonderful silver companies no longer exist with one notable exception we know of — Galmer Ltd. in Long Island City. Some versions of old Kirk Stieff pieces are now recreated only in pewter. Due to economies, alas, the companies making these renditions have the tools and equipment only for pewter, not precious sterling silver.

Thanks to the ingenuity and expertise of Michael Galmer who has invented new tools and techniques, Galmer Silversmiths thrives using only the finest silver.

Bridal Glove and Silver Cuff

You will know a Galmer work by its hallmark but even more, by the delight to your eye, and when touched, by the weight and hand-feel of true enduring quality.
Dedicated to new elegant pieces for modern women, families and silver collectors of discerning taste, Repoussé Jewelry by Galmer is reviving the American repoussé silver tradition.

Here is Carolyn O’Keefe’s personal history of love for repoussé and the intrinsic prettiness and value of repoussé style:

 

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