George Fox Steedman had an extraordinarily successful career as a businessman in St. Louis in the early twentieth century. But his place in history is more likely secured by a house he and his wife Carrie built in Montecito, California, in 1925. Designed by George Washington Smith, an undisputed master of the Spanish Colonial Revival style, the house and its eleven-acre garden were designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2009 and are publicly accessible on a regular schedule.
A critically important adjunct to the house is an eye-popping “amateur” workshop where Steedman expressed various avocations: metal work, wine making, woodworking and, most notably, silversmithing. Between 1927 and 1940 he produced approximately one hundred pieces of domestic plate, often based on medieval prototypes. Two young artists, Channing Peake and Gordon Grant, joined him as apprentices in the undertaking. This book documents each piece photographically, includes reproductions of Steedman’s working drawings and indicates sources of inspiration for many of the pieces. It also places Steedman’s interest in silver in the context of new nineteenth-century awareness of old plate, fueled by publications, exhibitions and nascent museum collections.