You know the pieces and have seen them defining an era. But do you know their backstory? First off the mark: Advertising manager Rodney Chase introduced the centaur mark in which a centaur holds a bow in the midst of a hunt, or chase that you’ll find on the bottom of most pieces (although sometimes it’s hidden under a rivet) in 1928. Talk about self-promotion!
Chase had been a metalware manufacturer since 1876. But in the Art Deco years, iconic spaces like the Chrysler Building in New York, Union Terminal in Cincinnati, and most of Miami Beach needed lighting and accessories to go with the new style. By 1936, Chase quickly became one of the largest producers of high quality, machine made Art Deco lighting and accessories with finely made barware, candlesticks, smoking accessories, lamps and assorted serving pieces.
The company commissioned many of the top industrial designers of the day to develop pieces, enlisting leading designers like Russel Wright, Rockwell Kent, Walter von Nessen, Ruth Gerth, Lurelle Guild and Charles Arcularius.
Still, while Chase metalware was extremely well made, it was also affordable in the still difficult years following the depression when the Chase chromium finish was introduced. Buyers appreciated that it retained its gleam with virtually no polishing (and was more affordable than silver). Chase wares often paired the chromium finish with bakelite handles, well suited for serving hot food and beverages.
Chase metalware even attracted the attention of home economist Emily Post who endorsed Chase products in the book How to Give Buffet Suppers featuring a variety of Chase Chromium serving and heating products. Broadway and Hollywood films also made extensive use of Chase Art Deco industrial design in their sets.
Chase metalware continued to be sold up until the onset of World War II, but after the war ended, chose not to resume making consumer products and the production of their most famous works ceased.