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The silver wares of George W. Shiebler stand out for their unique motifs, heavy weight, and quality craftsmanship. The Baltimore native established himself in New York and Brooklyn as a leader in the silver business and his biggest fault has been claimed to be that the silver was “too good!". He quickly acquired other silver flatware makers folding their patterns into his own business, as in the Corinthian pattern flatware service that holds marks of John Polhamus (1833 – 1874) and Shiebler.
During his lifetime, Shiebler sold his wares to the finest jewelry and silver retailers in America, including Tiffany & Co., Theo B. Starr, Shreve, Crump & Low, and J.E. Caldwell & Co., from his showroom studio on the third floor of the Union Square Decker building, which still stands as a national landmark. When his short-lived firm, incorporated in 1892 and dissolved a short 18 years later in 1910, was acquired by new owners, a stipulation required the original casting dies to be destroyed because the exceptional weight and quality were deemed unprofitable.
Silver was not Shiebler’s only interest and his 1920 obituary in The Brooklyn Eagle references his autograph album in the headline. A subject of much intrigue, the extensive album with signatures that Shiebler acquired in his fortunate position as a successful silverware manufacturer disappeared at a dinner and then was recovered two years later at The Yale Club in Manhattan.
Shiebler established himself with his many unique flatware patterns and later his jewelry and novelties. Etruscan and Homeric medallion pieces with an oxidized finish are perhaps the most recognizable Shiebler pieces today. However, he also favored fine enamel, Renaissance revival, and Japanesque designs. Many well-heeled homes would have had a paper knife/letter opener prominently displayed on a desk with ink well and pen.