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American Electrical Works Bake Matchsafe, ca. 1900

This is a Matchsafe. It was manufactured by Gorham Manufacturing Company. It is dated ca. 1900 and we acquired it in 1980. Its medium is copper. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

Gorham Manufacturing Company was a prominent American metalwork firm that produced over 1,180 varieties of match safes, making Gorham one of the country’s leading match safe manufacturers. Matchsafes were a ubiquitous product from around 1870 until the 1930s and could be found in a huge variety of styles and forms. These devices were both decorative and functional: friction matches were unstable and could flame up when unknowingly rubbed inside a coat pocket or other surface, and matchsafes, complete with striker on the outside, kept the matches confined and secure. While the designs and forms of many matchsafes were decorative, those used as “mini billboards,” featuring advertising or slogans and logos of trade unions were especially prominent in the first decades of the twentieth century. This match safe announces American Electrical Works’ twenty-second annual clambake in Providence, Rhode Island, where Gorham was also based. The event was open to members of the electrical industry from around the country. The use of copper, a base metal, suggests it was intended to be functional rather than glamorous while the image of a tight fist holding electrical currents demonstrates the industry’s power.

This object was donated by Stephen W. Brener and Carol B. Brener. It is credited Gift of Stephen W. Brener and Carol B. Brener.

Its dimensions are

5.8 x 5 x 1 cm (2 5/16 x 1 15/16 x 3/8 in. )

It has the following markings

Anchor, GORHAM CO. stamped on front bezel; A P stamped on reverse bezel.

Cite this object as

American Electrical Works Bake Matchsafe, ca. 1900; Manufactured by Gorham Manufacturing Company (United States); USA; copper; 5.8 x 5 x 1 cm (2 5/16 x 1 15/16 x 3/8 in. ); Gift of Stephen W. Brener and Carol B. Brener; 1980-14-415

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=American Electrical Works Bake Matchsafe, ca. 1900 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=20 January 2020 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>