The Heintz Art Metal Shop of Buffalo, New York, flourished during the early years of the twentieth century, producing some of the finest decorative metal wares of the American Arts & Crafts movement. The enterprise made a wide variety of objects of “things not found elsewhere,” including vases, bowls, desk sets, lamps, candlesticks, frames, trophies, smoking accessories, and boxes.
Otto L. Heintz was the founder of the company. He was born in 1877 into a family of jewelers and set out on his own in 1902 when he took over a small local business, renamed it the Art Crafts Shop, and began creating copper pieces with colorful enamel decoration.
By 1906, however, Otto L. Heintz took a decidedly new approach to his designs in metal. He developed an artistic style known for utilizing bronze, rather than copper, accented with sterling silver overlay in naturalistic forms as ornamentation. Underscoring this shift in design, the company was now called the Heintz Art Metal Shop.
Heintz’s works from this period were appealing for their simple yet elegant interpretation of practical everyday objects. They were advertised in arts publications such as The Crafstman and The International Studio, and were sold, among other places, in the company’s showroom in New York City. Heintz would go on to patent his processes for producing articles in metal, most notably his unique method for applying sterling silver to bronze without solder which was granted in 1912.
Altogether, the Martin House has thirteen Heintz objects in its collection, of which there are two currently on display (bowl on the dining room table and the reception room table). Some of these decorative items are in the Heintz traditional style of silver-on-bronze, such as the four-piece desk set pictured below and once owned by Darwin D. Martin.
Others were custom-made specifically for the family’s Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home. The bowl on the dining room table is a particularly fine example of Heintz metal ware made exclusively for the Martins. Its design is made of solid bronze in a finish that complements the golden tones of the home’s interior spaces, while the exterior surface is etched to create an overall textured pattern. As seen in the historic photograph, the attractive bowl sat at the center of the dining room table and was used as a vessel in which to display flowers from the Martin House gardens.
Otto L. Heintz passed away suddenly at the age of 41 on January 10, 1918. The Heintz Art Metal Shop permanently closed its operations in 1930. Its legacy for creating works using signature techniques, patterns, and patinas lives on at the Martin House, as well as in many public and private collections.