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Art Deco debuted at the International Exhibition of Modern and Industrial Decorative Arts in:

London in 1900.
Berlin in 1916
Paris in 1925
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ART DECO
1910 - 1939
by Charlotte & Tim Benton

Art deco—the style of the flapper, the luxury ocean liner, and the skyscraper—came to epitomize the glamour, luxury, and hedonism of the Jazz Age. After bursting onto the world stage, it quickly swept the globe, influencing everything from architecture to interior design, fashion jewelry, and radios. Above all, it became the style of the pleasure palaces of the age—hotels, nightclubs, and movie theaters.
                                   
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Shaken, Not Stirred
by Bob Brooke

 

Cocktail shakers weren’t always elegant. The first shakers were hollowed out gourds. Back in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia they served to mix liquids together and as such were a practical accessory for books back then. But they lacked the style of 20th-century shakers.

Collectible cocktail shakers arrived just after the invention of the martini. However, there seems to be some controversy as to just when that happened.

It isn’t known for certain who first mixed and served the first martini. The best guess places this great event in late 19th-century America. There are several theories as to its origin. One credits a bartender named Jerry Thomas at San Francisco's Occidental Hotel in the 1860s with mixing a special drink for a traveler bound for the nearby town of Martinez. But for some reason, Thomas didn’t include the recipe for a martini in America's first cocktail book, How to Mix Drinks, or The Bon Vivant's Companion, that he first published in 1862, until the 1887 edition.

There are those, however, who insist that the martini, consisting of equal parts of gin and dry vermouth, was a New York invention, probably first mixed at the Knickerbocker Hotel by bartender Martini di Arma di Taggia. But if both sweet and dry vermouth were used, then the honor could belong to William F. Mulhall, who served drinks of this sort at Hoffman House, also in New York City, in the 1880s.

Ever since those first concoctions, martinis have been a stylish drink, appreciated not only for the kick they deliver, but also for the accessories used in their preparation and enjoyment. The first recipe calling for an accompanying olive can be traced to 1888, with the v-shaped martini cocktail glass appearing early in the 20th century. Bartenders who made early martinis either stirred the liquors together or poured them from one glass to another to mingle them together.

By the time that Prohibition came to an end in 1933, people throughout the nation enjoyed drinking martinis. Often viewed as the drink of trendsetters and glamour seekers, martinis became associated with movie stars, including William Powell and Myrna Loy. People at the time saw martinis as very American, urbane, high-status, masculine, optimistic, and adult— a drink for the wealthy and the powerful, or those aiming for that status.

As the 1930s gave way to the 1940s, the public image of martinis became more sophisticated and accepted into wider circles: By the end of World War II they had become identified as the drink of statesmen and businessmen. The quest for the perfect dry martini was on.

Wealthy bon vivants of the 1920s shook theirs up in silver, while their less affluent counterparts turned to glass or nickel-plated models. By the following decade, mass- production made shakers a reality for those with fewer means, manufacturing the shakers in chrome-plated stainless steel.

Every maker of decorative home furnishings made cocktail shakers in the 1920s and 1930s, from Tiffany to aluminum manufacturers. While the Chase Chrome Company, Revere Brass and Copper, and Farber Brothers were leaders in the production of metal shakers, Hazel Atlas, Imperial, Duncan Miller, and Cambridge Glass made them of glass.

Many shakers were made in Meriden, Connecticut., which became known as "Silver City" and the home of many companies, including International Silver, which manufactured metal ware serving wares.

As the demand for barware grew in the 1930s, the designs became more varied. Makers produced sleek shakers from silver and silver-plate. Some even sported Bakelite handles and trim. The shakers themselves featured Art Deco designs, from airplanes to dirigibles, dumbbells to golf bags. Some even took on the shapes of modern buildings.

Dubbed the "Manhattan Skyscraper serving set," one set, designed in 1936 by Norman Bel Geddes, is still considered to be among the most desirable by collectors. For a somewhat less sophisticated clientele, shakers in the shape of bowling pins were soon making their way into America's liquor cabinets.

Among famous makers, Napier produced a penguin in sterling circa 1936. Heisey glass shakers boasted rooster or horse heads on the top. The ultimate in decadence was reached when a shaker was fashioned in the shape of a woman's leg; this ruby glass and chrome shaker appeared on the bar scene in 1937. Glass shakers opened the possibilities for more design motifs: enameled on the glass were bartenders, poodles, recipes, tuxedoes, and what is now considered the most enticing of them all, pink elephants.

Shakers were so important in some homes that furniture makers designed special pieces to accommodate them, including bars, with special places for glasses and trays, that had a special place to hold the martini mixers.

Generally, martini shakers can be divided into three categories: the classic shaker, the strained shaker, and the Boston shaker. The first known as a classic shaker, made in three pieces—a metal tumbler, a snug-fitting lid, and a small cap the fits over the spout and covers the internal strainer. The second type dispenses with the use of a strainer and consists of only two parts. The third type, called a "Boston shaker," is a metal tumbler with a pint beer glass for the lid. Fastest to use, it is commonly seen used by busy bartenders. With all of the variety of materials, some purists insist that a shaker made in two parts of stainless steel is the most efficient and durable.

The golden age of cocktail shaker design came to an abrupt end with the beginning of World War II. Metals were earmarked for the production of armaments, and cocktail shakers no longer seemed a priority to a country at war.

While cocktail shakers can be found at garage sales, flea markets, and thrift shops for under $10, the better designed ones can sell for four or five figures.

In addition to auctions and antiques stores, beginning collectors can easily find shakers in secondhand shops, and at yard sales and flea markets. In fact, there’s no right or wrong way to collect cocktail shakers. It's a matter of personal taste. There's one for every budget—and taste. And vintage shakers were, after all, made to be used.

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