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In the heart of Massachusetts, nestled within the town of Attleboro, a legacy was taking root in 1866. William Dean Whiting, not just a silversmith but a visionary, had dreams bigger than the town itself. Having already co-founded Tifft & Whiting in 1840, he was no stranger to the world of sterling silver. But by 1866, debts cast a shadow over his dreams, leading to the liquidation of his first venture. Yet, like the resilient silver he molded, he didn't tarnish. Instead, he shone brighter, founding the Whiting Manufacturing Company.
The tale of Whiting is not without its trials. In 1875, a fire raged through their factory, compelling them to relocate to the bustling streets of New York City. But like a phoenix, they rose from the ashes, adapting and evolving. In the Big Apple, they began crafting Japanese-inspired masterpieces, directly competing with the likes of Gorham and Tiffany. Their creations were not mere imitations but were imbued with a unique touch. Silver salts took the form of delicate lotus blossoms, and hammered pitchers bore the likeness of silver fish, such as carp, and intricate seashells.
The legacy of Whiting was not confined to William Dean. His son, Frank Mortimer Whiting, played a pivotal role in the company's history. Frank M. Whiting, as he was known, wasn't a designer at Whiting Manufacturing Company but a shrewd businessman. He and his father returned to Attleboro and established the F.M. Whiting Company. Tragically, Frank M. passed away a year after his father in 1892. His sisters took the reins, running the business under the F.M. Whiting Company banner. However, due to name associations, they later had to rename it to "Frank, M. Whiting and Company."
The Whiting Manufacturing Company's designs were not just products but art forms. They were particularly renowned for their Japanese-inspired silver, which they crafted between 1874 and 1890. Their designers, including the likes of Edwin Davis French and Charles Osborne, were adept at blending Japanese and naturalistic motifs, drawing inspiration from Japanese prints, pottery, metalwork, textiles, and even European print sources.
But as with all tales, this one too has an end. In 1905, Gorham acquired Whiting and continued to produce silver under the Whiting brand. However, by 1926, the Whiting brand was discontinued.
The legacy of Whiting is not just in the silverware they crafted but in the indelible mark they left on the world of design and artistry. Their journey from a small town in Massachusetts to the heart of New York City is a testament to their resilience, innovation, and unparalleled craftsmanship.
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