Lot 138
  • 138

Elwood North Cornell

5,000 - 7,000 USD
75,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Elwood North Cornell
  • Four-Piece "Modernistic" Coffee Service
  • each impressed with the firm's mark
  • silver-plated nickel silver
  • coffee pot:  8  3/8  in. (21.7 cm) high
    tray:   1/2  x 15  3/4  x 9  5/8  in. (1.3 x 40 x 24.4 cm)
comprising coffee pot, creamer, covered sugar and tray


“Gifts of Interest to the Buyer,” Dry Goods Economist, April 7, 1928, p. 102
Jewelers’ Circular, May 19, 1928, p. 10 (for a full-page advertisement by the Middletown Silver company for the “Modernistic” pattern coffee service)
Frederic Saunders, “From Art Nouveau to L’art Moderne,” Jewelers’ Circular, February 21, 1929, p. 109
U.S. Design Patent No. 80,257, for a “Modernistic” pattern coffee pot, filed January 24, 1928, and awarded January 7, 1930
Paola Antonelli, Sitting on the Edge:  Modernist Design from the Collection of Michael and Gabrielle Boyd, San Francisco, 1998, p. 162
Jewel Stern, Modernism in American Silver:  20th Century Design, New Haven, 2005, pp. 28-30 (for a comparable example of Erik Magnussen’s cubistic “Lights and Shadows of Manhattan” coffee service)
John Stuart Gordon, A Modern World:  American Design from the Yale University Art Gallery, 1920-1950, New Haven, 2011, p. 74

Catalogue Note

Elwood North Cornell drew inspiration for this coffee service from the avant-garde Cubist movement concurrently happening in Europe.  His patent for its design in January 1928  precedes the fragmentary and geometric aesthetic  soon seen in other American Modern silver examples, including the “Skyscraper” series coffee and vanities services by Louis W. Rice, produced later in 1928.  The “Modernistic” pattern was developed in the wake of the iconic coffee service designed by Erik Magnussen for the Gorham Company introduced in late 1927 as “The Light and Shadows of Manhattan.” Magnussen referenced the prismatic dynamism of American urban architecture through angular forms—elements seen in this “Modernistic” design by Cornell that in turn enliven Manhattan architecture of the present day.