George Fox Steedman delighted in creating silver pieces for family and friends, mostly produced in his workshop at Casa del Herrero (the House of the Blacksmith), and often given to celebrate a special milestone or event.
His creative legacy lives on today in the silver pieces he made, some of which are on view at the Casa, and some of which continue to be cherished by Steedman family members.
Casa del Herrero is pleased to announce the publication of The Steedman Silver, a comprehensive history of the silver pieces George Fox Steedman made at the Casa during his lifetime.
The book documents each piece of silver photographically, includes reproductions of Steedman’s working drawings, and indicates sources of inspiration for many of the pieces.
“A passion project for our founding trustee, George Steedman Bass, The Steedman Silver book exists today thanks to his efforts, but also thanks in part to many who made this book possible,” said Casa del Herrero Executive Director Jessica Tade. “The Casa is so grateful to architect Marc Appleton for his vision and leadership, also publishing the book under his imprint, the Tailwater Press LLC.
“Additionally, I am thankful to Matt Walla for providing amazing photographs of the silver pieces, and to author Robert Sweeney, whose beautiful content brings the silver pieces to life for the reader. Because of these combined efforts, an important piece of Casa history is preserved for generations to come.”
Steedman became interested in silver around 1923 after purchasing a catalogue for a silver exhibition held in London in 1902. He began conducting meticulous research on the availability and prices for silver sheets and bars so that he could begin mastering the art of silversmithing.
After serving a brief apprenticeship with the renowned silversmith George Gebelein, Steedman returned to Casa del Herrero, where he began completing projects in his workshop.
He produced beautiful works of silver including goblets, dinnerware, and vases. Many of these objects are on view at the Casa and can be seen by booking a guided tour. (casadelherrero.com/tours/)
“My friend (and longtime Casa volunteer) Jane Dyruff likes to refer to George Steedman as a renaissance man,” said The Steedman Silver author Robert Sweeney. “I think she is correct!”
Steedman spent many hours in his workshop as it afforded him the opportunity to perfect his artisan skills. As he wrote in the Harvard College Class of 1932 Report, “I am afflicted (or blessed?) with an incurable heart disease, which, if I take life easy, will probably permit me to live to a ripe and happy old age, and I am enjoying a regular and easy life in southern California…all exercise are no longer permitted, but my life work of engineering, machinery, and the like gave me a training that now permits me to spend many happy hours each day as a sedentary silversmith…”
Eventually, Steedman took on two apprentices – Channing Peake (working at the Casa from 1933-34) and Gordon Grant (working at the Casa from 1935-40), who each helped him complete a large number of silver pieces until Steedman’s death in 1940.
Peake would later describe his experience working with Steedman at the Casa by saying, “He was a silversmith, a retired wealthy man from St. Louis, and he needed somebody to translate Gothic designs that he liked very much so that he could work in silver in them. That was an interesting experience in many ways. I mean it was really…a great education.”
Some information for this article provided courtesy of Robert Sweeney’s book Casa del Herrero – The Romance of Spanish Colonial, published by Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., as well as The Steedman Silver, both available at Casa del Herrero.
Today, Casa del Herrero functions as a nonprofit organization with the goal of preserving the house and grounds, as well as the Steedman family’s collection of fifteenth and sixteenth century fine and decorative art objects from the “Golden Age” of Spain, books, sketchbooks, drawings, and horticultural records.
Designed by George Washington Smith, the Casa is one of the finest examples of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture in America, and the only National Historic Landmark in Montecito.
Casa del Herrero is preserved and stewarded for the benefit of the community, and can be visited by booking a tour. (casadelherrero.com/tours/)
We Love Our Members!
Members provide invaluable support, assisting the Casa in its ability to complete important conservation projects, maintain the home’s beautiful garden spaces, provide education to visitors, and inspire conversations around preservation, creativity, and artisanship.
Casa del Herrero is holding a membership drive in the month of February. Those individuals joining or renewing memberships in the month of February will receive an appreciation gift in addition to access to members-only specialty tours. Check out the exciting options! (casadelherrero.com/membership/)