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William Gale (American, 1799-1867)
Birth Place: Goshen, New York
Gale was one of the most innovative silversmiths in the 19th century, using both coin silver and sterling mediums. He patented a steam-powered process for manufacturing flatware in 1826 by which a thick sheet of silver was rolled through a machine, die pressed like a coin, and emerged as a piece of flatware with a pattern to each side. Arguably the rarest of the pieces Gale made by this process was during his partnership with Nathaniel Hayden. Patented in 1847, Gale and Hayden’s “Gothic” design incorporated quatrefoil, trefoil, molded tracery, and pointed arch elements. Gale was also prolific with flatware patterns such as Olive, Tuscan, and Kings. Along with silversmith James Watts, he produced one of Gorham’s earliest mass-produced patterns, “Josephine.” Gale also crafted a variety of presentation ewers, cups, pitchers, tea sets, etc. Upon Gale’s death in 1867, ownership of the company transferred to his son, who merged with Dominick and Haff in 1870.
Gale was a partner with John Stickler in New York City, NY from 1821 to 1822 then forming a partnership with John Lee Gale in 1826. Gale then joined silversmith’s Jacob Wood and Jasper Wood Hughes from 1835 to 1845 to form “Gale, Wood, and Hughes” in New York. For the duration of 1846-1850, Gale associated with Nathaniel Hayden of Charleston, SC. Upon the completion of his son’s (William Gale, Jr. b. 1831) apprenticeship, Gale was able to incorporate “William Gale and Son” in his hallmark. From 1859 to 1862, he partnered with John R. Willis as “Gale and Willis.” His last business venture was again with his son, working as “William Gale and Son” from 1863 to 1866.
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