Jensen's flatware patterns. An overview

Few if any firms have produced as many design classics in silver as Georg Jensen,

flatware patterns in particular. Most of the major Jensen designers created at least one flatware pattern, many of which are instantly recognisable.
The range of Jensen flatware patterns can, in a way, be seen as an illustration of the development of early to mid 20th century design, with all major styles represented by at least one Jensen pattern, from the art nouveau of Lilly of the Valley (Jensen 1906) to the space age modernism of Caravel (Koppel 1957).

There are in excess of 60 different flatware designs produced in silver at one time or another by Georg Jensen. Many of these however are not full patterns in the sense that they were available to build as a service. I have chosen to exclude these so called "ornamental" patterns, which are generally not named, and known only by design number. Also we will not consider those designs produced exclusively in stainless steel, which has been the material of choice for new designs since the 60's.
This leaves us with 32 full patterns in silver, all but one of which* were first in production from 1906-1966. The more popular patterns were reproduced, and some are still in production today.
Each pattern is known by design number, and name, usually the Danish name being different from the design name in English. A few patterns where named differently when marketed in Britain than in the USA, but generally speaking the English language name applies in both countries. Confusingly the design numbers are not in sequence, the first pattern is #2, the second #4 and the sixth #145.

What follows is a brief account of some of the more important patterns.

The earliest designs date from 1906, and are all by Jensen himself. They are in the main in the art nouveau style, albeit the particular flavour of art nouveau prevalent in Scandinavia (Sk°nwirke: literally, beautiful work). They were popular, and perhaps, a little unadventurous. However, they were in great contrast to the flatware designs of the period which where either highly functional or highly traditional. Even the classic Continental pattern (#2- Antik in Danish) which was based on, but not a reproduction of, traditional 17th and 18th century Scandinavian spoons has the lustrous planishing one associates with the Arts and Crafts. Continental has proved one of the most enduring designs, and is still produced by the Georg Jensen firm today.
In 1912 Jensen produced the first pattern by a designer other than himself, Dahlia (#3- known by the same name in Denmark) by Sigfried Wagner, a colleague of Jensen in the workshop of Mogens Ballin under whom he had worked previous to 1904.
Then in 1913 Jensen's own design Lily of the Valley (#1 Liljekonval- see illustration), a ever popular and rather conservative expression of the art nouveau style. The beaded pattern (#7 Kugle- see illustration) was another of Jensen's own designs 1915, this time neither naturalistic or nouveau, almost seeming to anticipate the Art Deco. Both beaded and Lily of the Valley are still in production.
Perhaps the quintessential Jensen pattern is Acorn (#62 Konge- see illustration). By far the most prolifically produced, but not in fact designed by Jensen. Johan Rohde was the creator of this design, and the very similar Acanthus pattern also (#180- Dronning- see illustration). Both are Nouveau in style, with a clear classical influence. The fluted stems remind us of columns, while the terminals have something of the Corinthian order about them. These patterns are highly modern, and yet have a gravitas of the old order, carefully negotiating between clean modern lines and the fussy decoration of earlier taste. Acorn is still in production, while Acanthus is not.

Blossom (#84- Magnolie) was another of Jensen's own designs, and considered one of the finest. It was first produced in 1919, and is by far the most labour intensive of the flatware patterns. The handles are open work, a cluster of leaves and berries, each element hand made and assembled. Highly naturalistic, of Jensen's own designs it is the most in keeping with his holloware, indeed, with Blossom we begin to see a tendency towards creating a whole range of silverware, flatware and hollow, all in keeping and under a single pattern name, as we see later with Pyramid, Cactus, Bernadotte and others..

In 1926 Jensen produced the first of Harald Nielsen's flatware designs, Pyramid (#15- Pyramide). perhaps the quintessential Art Deco flatware design, and showing the impact of the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen in 19XX. Pyramid is popular to this day, and is still in production. It is the first truly modern flatware design produced by Jensen, owing nothing to nature or the art of the recent past, despite it's Egyptian pretensions.

This trend continues with Cactus (#30- Kaktus) by Gundolph Albertus, another fiercely modern design in the Art Deco mode, albeit too curvaceous to qualify as high Deco. Indeed from the mid twenties it is fair to say that only Viking (#6- Nordisk), Old Danish (#100- Dobbeltrflet) and perhaps Nordic (#76- Ladby) are not thoroughly modern in inspiration. Before the war Deco was the order of the day. After the war, with the aforementioned exception of Old Danish** the future looking modernism of the late 1950s and 60's dominated, and probably best represented by Henning K÷ppel's 1957 effort Caravel (#111- Caravel).

Article by James Baldwin

Additional Articles in Georg Jensen Category

  • Georg Jensen: The name, the man.
    A brief account of both Georg Jensen silversmith, himself, and the Georg Jensen company. First we examine Georg Jensen's own personal history and development, and then we trace that of the company he so successfully established. From the original Georg Jensen Silversmithy- his workshop and retail premises to the later company both with and without his leadership and involvement, to the modern multinational brand. read more...

  • Jensen's flatware patterns. An overview
    In this article we review the most important of the Georg Jensen Sterling silver flatware patterns. We review the Sterling silverware designed by Georg Jensen himself, and indeed silver flatware patterns by his other designers. Georg Jensen Silver flatware is, in fact, a perfect way to review the important developments of European art and design in the 20th century. If you ever wanted to know more about Georg Jensen sterling silver flatware patterns then this article is for you! read more...

  • Building a Georg Jensen Service
    When one undertakes a project such as obtaining or collecting a service of silver cutlery it is important to conduct at least a bit of research. For those of us who love Georg Jensen silver the task is no less difficult. This is due to the range and variety of Georg Jensen silver flatware patterns produced. This article is designed to guide you through the minefield, alert you to the main issues of collecting or buying a service of Georg Jensen silver cutlery, and ask the sorts of questions you need to answer in order to make an informed purchase. read more...

  • Jensen Flatware for the Collector
    Most buyers of Georg Jensen sterling silver cutlery are building or adding to a silver canteen. However, as pieces of 20th century design, Georg Jensen sterling flatware pieces are also of great interest to collectors. While some collectors may be exclusively interested in the sterling silverware of Georg Jensen many will wish to add silver flatware pieces in different Georg Jensen designs to their more general collection of sterling silver flatware. read more...

  • Silver Cutlery buyers guide
    A simple collection of advice for the purchaser. What sort of silver canteen will best suit your needs? Silver canteen or silver plate canteen? How many pieces of cutlery will you need? Exactly what types of silver knife, fork and spoon are required for the type and number of courses you regularly serve? We also provide some brief advice on silver flatware patterns, and even budget considerations. If you are looking in to buying a silver canteen of cutlery then this article will be invaluable as you make up your mind and find the best option for you. read more...

A Sterling Silver Akkeleje Pattern Teaspoon by Georg Jensen

...... More Details

A Sterling Silver Flatware Set Of Georg Jensen In the Argo Pattern

This Georg Jensen silver flatware was designed by Magnus Stephenson in 1961, and is in the  Argo pattern. This very modern pattern features...... More Details

A Fine Set of Sterling Silver Desserts Spoons in Akkeleje Pattern by Georg Jensen

A set of six sterling silver Akkeleje pattern dessert spoons. The Akkeleje pattern was designed in 1918 by Georg Jensen.Each spoon measures...... More Details

A Set of 6 Pyramid Pattern Silver Cake Forks by Georg Jensen

This set of Sterling Silver Pyramid Pattern Cake Forks were made by Georg Jensen, Copenhagen. The Pyramid Pattern is one of Jensen's most popular...... More Details