Rhode Island Archival and Manuscript Collections Online

For Participating Institutions

Gorham Manufacturing Company records (SP4.0)

Rhode Island School of Design Archives

Fleet Library at RISD
2 College Street
Providence, RI 02903
Tel: 401-709-5922
Fax: 401-709-5932
email: risdarchives@risd.edu

Historical note

Jabez Gorham and Henry Webster founded Gorham and Webster in 1831 at the botton of Steeple Street, Providence, RI to manufacture jewelry and coin spoons. Webster left within a decade resulting in the formation of J. Gorham and Son in 1841. John Gorham assumed leadership of the company when his father departed in 1847. He led the phenomenal growth of Gorham Manufacturing Co. as the country's premier slver design company. He lost control of the company in 1875 due to personal bankruptcy. Gorham pioneered manufacturing and sales techniques during the 1800s and early 1900s. The company remained independent until sold to Textron in 1967. Textron sold the company to Dansk International Designs in 1989. Additional mergers and acquisitions led to Brown University's acquisition of the company archives. The RISD Museum of Art acquired the company's silver collection and the Fleet Library at RISD received the Gorham Design Library.

For a detailed history of the company please see the 2019 RISD Museum of Art exhibition catalogue Gorham Silver: Designing Brilliance, 1850-1970, editor, Elizabeth A. Williams.