Molded in Bronze: The Desk Sets of Louis C. Tiffany 1897-1929




Spencer-King, Brittany

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The act of writing and the objects that facilitate writing are commonplace in our everyday lives and have been so for hundreds of years. As a result, even when renowned artists manufactured them, they are sometimes overlooked by the scholarly world. Louis C. Tiffany (1848- 1933), known for his work in glass, created many object to aid in writing, such as inkstands, pens, rocker blotters and pen trays. Today, these objects, also called “fancy goods,” are somewhat ignored in the academic writings on Tiffany and overlooked by a large part of the population. In this thesis, I will argue that although the desk sets did not receive critical praise like other Tiffany products, they fully embody Tiffany’s design aesthetic and reflect the cultural history of the time period. In order to address these topics, the desk sets are discussed in three chapters: the desk and material culture; design and manufacturing techniques; and marketing tactics. A study of the desk sets reveals that Tiffany was just as in tune with society as he was engaged in influencing it. This relationship is illustrated in the way the desk sets were designed, created and marketed; that in turn, created one of the most successful and socially relevant products Tiffany ever released.



Louis C. Tiffany, 20th century, Bronze, Arts and crafts, Desk sets