Michael

Got to see Samuel Yellin’s work in Person

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Recently I read Jack Andrews book Samuel Yellin Metalworker through Inter Library Loan, and in looking through all the job cards, saw that Yellin’s shop did some gates and grills at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, the city where I work.  I’d thought all of Yellin’s work, at least his public work, was in the East.  This was an exciting chance to see a great smith’s work up close and personal. Little did I know.
A quick call to Grace Cathedral, just to check the hours they were open and see if anyone knew specifically about the gates and grills, put me in touch with the Cathedral Archivist, who knew what I was talking about and suggested I call when I came by.
What an eyeful!  The Archivist brought the key to the Grace Chapel Gates,post-182-0-85811200-1380148067_thumb.jpg that featured one of Yellin’s signature grotesques, then starting with the Bishop’s Door,post-182-0-45023100-1380148045_thumb.jpg thought to be Yellin’s work but not definitely attributable. Clearly wrought iron and nicely done. Then onto a rail done by Harvey Yellin in a side chapel, the slight inconsistancies in the twisting showing it was done by a smith, not a machine.post-182-0-21803300-1380148111_thumb.jpg
Then I was shown the chancel gates surrounding the main altarpost-182-0-77049500-1380148129_thumb.jpg, with the heavy, captured bolt that connected the gate to the floor and the opposite gate.post-182-0-98652300-1380148143_thumb.jpg The originals by Yellin and, when the altar was moved, extra gates to match that were made in the 60’s, showing much thinner decorative bosses and an overall less complex presentation. Can’t say what was really different, but you could definitely tell the new from the old.
The Grace Chapel  Gates, 20 feet high, decoration so elaborate I could spend a years trying to figure out how they were done.post-182-0-40045100-1380148159_thumb.jpg Huge, incised twists that the Archivist thought were multiple pieces.post-182-0-25124000-1380148176_thumb.jpg Another grotesque on the bolt handle. The doorjamb (Gatejamb?) where the gates overlapped was most impressive.post-182-0-72503400-1380148479_thumb.jpg
When my guide offered to hold the 12 foot ladder so I could get closer to the dusty finials at the top of the gate, I leapt at the opportunity and I’ve got an SD card on my phone full of details.post-182-0-13588000-1380148200_thumb.jpg
All this was during a longish lunch hour from work. Got back to the office but couldn’t quite focus on the work at hand, I wonder why? . 
The archivist is there Monday through Wednesday. If you find yourself in San Francisco, on Nob Hill at Taylor and California Street, check out the Mr. Yellin’s work.

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That is very cool, thanks for sharing.  Here in Seattle is the Asian Art Museum.  In the 1920's one of the Bullitt daughters commissioned a huge pair of gates from the Yellin studio.  I was in the museum walking around and stumbled on them.  They are not hidden, per say, but they are not featured.  I spent so long studying them, one of the guards came over and asked me if I was OK.  I can't find any images of them, I guess I need to go shoot some pics.

 

Geoff

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Thanks for mentioning these. I'll have to add a visit to them when I get the chance and make it out to the West coast again some time in the future.

 

There's supposed to be  several Yellin pieces in Philly. I'm pretty sure I saw them years ago and admired them. Locating them again and going back to study them in detail, is on my list of things to do in the winter when work is slow. I'll also have to make time next time I'm down near DC to visit my folks to stop by  the National Cathedral and look at his work there as well.

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A list of Samuel Yellin's major works may be found in a 30 page booklet "Sketches in Iron: Samuel Yellin American Master of Wrought Iron 1885-1940" by Myra Tolmach Davis. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 78-156287. He had work installed in an amazing number of the United States.

 

Sayings and Cornpone

Said Dr. Charles W. Mayo, founder of the famous Mayo Clinic:

"When I am your doctor, I try to imagine the kind of doctor I'd like if I were you. Then I try to be that kind of doctor."

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At one time his business was up to 200 forges working simultaneously IIRC; that will put out a bunch of work!

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great photos of beautiful work ! that key is just wonderful ! :) would love to be patient enough.. 

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