Heintz Art Metal Shop – Buffalo, New York

Heintz Art Metal

The most collected and prized art metalware from the Arts & Crafts era was “brown metal.” Hues ranged from an old tarnished penny to worn leather. One company, Heintz Art Metal Shop of Buffalo, New York, specialized in chocolate brown metal and their dark patina has never been duplicated. The chemical formula died with owner and innovator Otto Heintz (1877 to 1918).

Heintz preferred bronze with a sterling silver overlay, not the more common Arts & Crafts copper. In addition to a lacquered chocolate brown, which was the shop’s most popular finish, there was green, red and a two-tone brown/gold. After 1912, Heintz added an electroplated line in French grey. Plated silver and gold followed in the mid-1920′s. Painted enamel decorative elements were added to a line of brown, green and silver items before 1906 and after 1920.

Great care must be exercised with Heintz lacquered ware. It must be gently cleaned with warm, soapy water, never polished. Abrasion and polishing remove the lacquer, base color and 75% of its value. Aging, oxidation or tarnish does not return a polished item to its chemically-produced factory finish.

From 1906 to 1930 Heintz produced decorative metalwork for better department stores and gift shops in the Northeast. After 1912, the company’s mark was either an impressed and stylized HAMS inside a diamond or a paper label. The year 1912 was pivotal to the company. That year, Otto Heintz received a patent for applying silver to bronze without solder.

Heintz was consistent in marking their forms. For example, picture frames began with 2000 and extended through the 2100′s; candlesticks, 3000 through 3100′s and the ever-popular vases and unlined bowls, 3500 through 3800′s.

Heintz has gradually been accepted as an Arts & Crafts metalware. In their third edition of The Price Guide to American Arts & Crafts, David Rago and Bruce Johnson devoted 4 pages to Heintz. In the previous two editions, they gave Heintz a paragraph in the “Other metalware shops and studios.”

Reference note by p4A.com Contributing Editor Pete Prunkl.

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