article # 127
by Dorothea Burstyn
(click on photos to enlarge image)

Two interesting lectures at the Solingen flatware collectors’ meeting 2010

This year's flatware collectors meeting at the Solingen Klingenmuseum, planned and executed by director Dr. Barbara Grotkamp-Schepers with her usual energy and charm, was again a complete success. This year's motto could have been "The productive 1950s-70s", as Dr. William P. Hood Jr. spoke about Don Wallance and Jörg Müller-Daehn presented his and Heinrich Averwerser's research on the output of Ambosswerke, Austria, in the same time period.

Dr. W. P. Hood Jr., author of the definitive book on Tiffany flatware (note 1) and numerous articles on American 19th century flatware, has recently turned his interest to the 20th and 21st century flatware production. Since then, he has built up an extensive and comprehensive collection of important modern flatware. When asked to hold a lecture on Don Wallance, he studied the related Wallance papers at the Cooper Hewitt Museum, New York, and also built up a sample collection of all Wallance's flatware designs, which are currently on display at the museum.
Don Wallance, graduating with a BA in English Literature, became interested in modern design during a Europe trip in 1932, and subsequently enrolled in Design Laboratory in New York City, the first US design school based on the Bauhaus model. Here his attitude toward design - a strict catering to consumers and their needs - was formed. In 1949, he moved to Croton-on-Hudson, NY, where he established his independent industrial design practice.
Don Wallance
Don Wallance
Wallance had success with his furniture designs but concentrated mainly on tableware. From the early 1950s on he created fourteen flatware patterns for H. E. Lauffer Co., of New York/New Jersey (note 2).
Design One was made by the German firm Pott/Solingen as no American firm could be found who would have been able to execute the pattern's monoblock knife to Wallance's satisfaction.
Design One enjoyed a long lasting popularity (in Germany it was marketed as 2721).
Pott submitted a modified version of Design One to Lufthansa and secured long-term contracts for supplying this pattern as in-flight flatware for the airline.
The relationship Pott/ Wallance was not always harmonious; Pott entered Design One at the 1954 Milan Triennale and won a Gold Medal for the design but never even bothered to tell Wallance about it.
Design One by Don Wallance, manufactured by Pott/Germany, 1953
Design One by Don Wallance,
manufactured by Pott/Germany, 1953
Don Wallance all plastic Design 10, 1981
For Design One as for all his other flatware designs Don Wallance started with wax and clay models, these were followed by other models in plaster and a soft metal alloy until the optimal ergonomic forms were reached.
Most of his designs were executed in Europe and marketed both there and in the US, an exception being the all plastic Design 10.
Produced only in the U.S., Design 10 was made in a variety of cheerful colors, not meant as disposable but as the first ever-lasting, high quality plastic flatware.
Wallance chose a special resin - Lexan - which was strong enough to cut through meat and vegetables.
This innovative pattern was included in the 1983 Philadelphia Museum of Art's exhibition, Design Since 1945.
Don Wallance all plastic Design 10, 1981
While Design One and Design Two received the most critical acclaim Magnum was the most commercially successful.
Don Wallance favorite material for flatware was stainless steel, which he sometimes combined with other materials - i.e. rosewood and plastic.
Don Wallance can be merited with making stainless steel socially acceptable in America - one could say that his excellent designs brought stainless steel from the kitchen into the dining room.
His designs also led to the flatware industry's wide acceptance of the monoblock knife.
Magnum, a commercial success, Don Wallance 1970
Magnum, a commercial success,
Don Wallance 1970
Jörg Müller Daehn’s lecture on Amboss showed how good management could transform a run-of-the-mill Austrian flatware company into a vibrant innovative concern whose products earned many prestigious prizes and were sold in more than sixty different countries all over the world.

In the early 1950s Hans Malzacher bought Amboss and took the daring decision to hire known designers such as Oswald Haerdtl and Carl Auböck to work on modern pattern design. He also believed in contracting young promising talents, many of whom developed their first designs for Amboss: Janos Megyik, an Austro-Hungarian painter and sculptor, Dominic von Habsburg-Lothringen, German artist and designer Josef Überall, the Austrian-Swedish designer couple Christel and Christer Holmgren; Max Bailly and Max Kraft, teaming up as "max-design" and most notably Austrian architect Helmut Alder.
Carl Auböck and his son designed Maestro (2060) in 1955/56 – a slick design which is maybe more exciting for the eye than as actual eating utensils. Nonetheless this pattern earned not only the gold medal at the World Exhibition in Brussels 1958 but also the Austrian state prize for good design. Helmut Alder designed a number of very successful patterns for Amboss, starting with 2050 in 1954 which received the Stainless Steel Design Award, Canada 1960 and numerous other prizes worldwide. Another critically acclaimed pattern was Alder's 2070, , the dessert version was used by Austrian Airlines for many years. The anniversary flatware model 2200 by H. Alder was designed in 1967/68 and combined stainless steel with plastic – a pattern which did not prove to be very practical as the black and red dots kept falling out.
Maestro (2060), Carl Auböck I and II, 1955 2050, Helmut Alder 1954 2070, Helmut Alder 1957 2200, Helmut Alder, 1967/68
Maestro (2060),
Carl Auböck I and II,
2050, Helmut Alder
2070, Helmut Alder
2200, Helmut Alder,
It was also produced without the plastic inserts under the same name (2200). Janos Megyik’s 1970 design 7000 for Amboss is simply breathtakingly modern but also ergonomically pleasant. Megyik designed a number of other utensils for Amboss, but none of them are as revolutionary as 7000. Another far-out design is the party dish K 70 equipped with a spork, designed by Ernst Otto Loewe and K.H. Hoelscher circa 1970.
7000, Janos Megyik, 1970 Snack flatware 1068, Janos Megyik, ca. 1970 Party dish/tray and spork, Ernst Otto Loewe & K.H. Hoelscher, before 1970 spork, Ernst Otto Loewe & K.H. Hoelscher, before 1970
7000, Janos Megyik, 1970
Snack flatware 1068,
Janos Megyik, ca. 1970
Party dish/tray and spork,
Ernst Otto Loewe
& K.H. Hoelscher, before 1970
spork, Ernst Otto Loewe & K.H. Hoelscher, before 1970
The "Kinderbesteck 1060" by Joseph Überall and Dominic Habsburg-Lothringen's "Hors d'oevre set" both designed before1970 are shown here to further document the wide range of exciting Amboss flatware. As an aside, it should be mentioned that Amboss also showed great style sense in presenting their wares. From 1958 to 1968 Amboss received nine Austrian state prizes for excellent packaging (note 3).
Kinderbesteck 1060 - child's set, Josef Überall, before 1970 Hors d'oevre set, Dominic Habsburg-Lothringen, before 1970 Prize-winning packaging for Amboss flatware, 1968
"Kinderbesteck 1060"
child's set,Josef Überall,
before 1970
Hors d'oevre set,
Dominic Habsburg-
Lothringen, before 1970
Prize-winning packaging
for Amboss flatware,
In 1963, Amboss started to work with the German Rosenthal group which became Amboss' new owner in 1969. Some Amboss patterns were produced by Rosenthal under different names, for instance 2050 became ABC, 2090 was now called Kontur and 2200 was called Austria. After 1976 Rosenthal transferred the production of successful Amboss patterns to their German factory and closed the Austrian premises. Many of the Amboss patterns were sold, some to an Austrian investor, some to a former Rosenthal employee who marked the new production of 2050/2060/2500 and 7000 with "Amboss Germany".

Heinrich Averwerser and Jörg Müller-Daehn have also mounted a very interesting exhibition on all Amboss patterns at the Solingen Klingenmuseum. For those who cannot visit, but want to have further information about Amboss, there is a richly illustrated catalogue of the exhibition (note 4) available from the authors directly. Just email your order to The team Averwerser/Müller-Daehn is already at work on a new project, a book sponsored by the Solingen Klingenmuseum about German flatware from 1945 - 2000 comprising about 400 illustrations to be published in 2012.

While the Solingen flatware collectors' meeting is a very exciting event for its interesting lectures and the opportunity to meet with collectors, dealers and experts from many different countries, a visit to the Solingen Klingenmuseum is a rewarding experience at any time, as it not only has the largest collection of flatware worldwide but also houses the Pott Archives and the Collection Marquardt and mounts many interesting exhibitions year-round.

All photos courtesy of William P. Hood Jr, and Heinrich Averwerser

1 William P. Hood Jr with Roslyn Berlin and Edward Wawrynek: Tiffany Silver Flatware 1845-1905, When Dining Was an Art, Antique Collector’s Club, Suffolk 2000

2 Don Wallance’s patterns: Design One 1953 (2721), Design Two (Amerika) 1957, Heritage 1959, Carvingware/Onyx 1961, Bedford (Carmen) 1963, Design 3 1964, Vantage (Aztec) 1966, Palisander 1969, Magnum 1970, Design 9 1974, Somerset/Lariat 1976, Kronos 1978, Design 10 (1981), Taurus 1982.

3 All of Amboss prize-winning packagings were designed by graphic designer Hans Schaumberger.

4 Heinz – Jürgen Averwerser/ Jörg Müller-Daehn: Amboss Bestecke - Flatware/ 1950 - 1992, Catalogue for the exhibitions in Solingen and Hanover 2010, - Solingen, Deutsches Klingenmuseum, March 14 - July 4,2010, Hanover, Museum August Kestner, August 12 - November 14, 2010.
Dorothea Burstyn is the Editor of the Silver Society of Canada Journal
and Administrator of SSC website
- 2010 -