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American Decorative Arts
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
Designer: Paul A. Lobel, American, born Romania, 1899–1983
Manufacturer: Wilcox Silver Plate Company, American, 1867–1898

Tea or Coffee Service

1934

Silver plate, alpaca, Britannia, pewter, and wood

Coffee pot: 6 × 6 × 8 1/8 in. (15.24 × 15.24 × 20.638 cm)
Creamer: 4 1/4 × 4 × 5 1/2 in. (10.795 × 10.16 × 13.97 cm)
Sugar bowl: 4 1/8 × 4 × 5 1/2 in. (10.478 × 10.16 × 13.97 cm)
Tray: 1 1/8 × 18 1/8 × 8 in. (2.858 × 46.038 × 20.32 cm)
John C. Waddell Collection, Gift of John C. Waddell, B.A. 1959
2012.124.3.1-.4
With its spare, rectangular tray and spherical vessels devoid of extraneous decoration, this tea or coffee set embodies the daring, forward-looking spirit that defines many products of the 1930s. The designer, Paul Lobel, was inspired by the geometric rigor of avant-garde painting, the austere metalwork produced by the Bauhaus in Germany, and the luxurious wares made by the French silversmith Jean Puiforcat. The prototype for Lobel’s set was included in the 1934 exhibition Contemporary American Industrial Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The Wilcox Silver Plate Company put the set into limited production, but the design may have proven too adventurous for American tastes or too expensive for Depression-era pocketbooks, as only a handful are known to survive.
Geography: 
Manufactured in Meriden, Connecticut
Designed in New York, New York
Status: 
On view
Culture: 
American
Period: 
20th century
Classification: 
Containers - Metals
Provenance: 

Purchased by John C. Waddell, New York, 1997

Bibliography: 

Jewel Stern, Modernism in American Silver: 20th-Century Design, exh. cat. (Dallas: Dallas Museum of Art, 2005), 111, 115–17, 359.

Wendy Moonan, “Exhibition Examines the Silver Lining of an American Industry,” New York Times (December 15, 2006).

John Stuart Gordon et al., A Modern World: American Design from the Yale University Art Gallery, 1920–1950 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2011), 266–67, no. 181.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.