Erik Magnussen (1884-1960) was a self-taught silversmith, too independent to be accepted by any workshop. He was raised in an intellectual atmosphere and was apprenticed at 14 in his uncle's art gallery. He opened his own workshop in 1909, producing extraordinary naturalistic silver-gilt and porcelain brooches of insects for the Royal Copenhagen Porcelain Manufactory. In 1925, he moved to New York City and became artistic director for Gorham Silver Co. He worked independently from the other designers, producing modernistic pieces that were completely opposed to the traditional Colonial Gorham designs. This did not endear him to his fellow workers. (His radically geometric "Cubic" coffee set might have been created by a Russian Constructivist.) After the stock market crash of 1929, Magnussen left Gorham and opened his own shops in New York City and Chicago. When they went bankrupt, he maintained a shop in Hollywood to design for the stars. Returning to Denmark in 1939, Magnussen crafted enamel jewelry with a nationalistic theme during the war. His sterling enameled fish, post-war, is one of many aquatic subjects he created. His signature is an "EM" monogram.
Excerpt of an article which appeared in the Heritage section of the November 1996 issue of JCK: Jewelers' Circular Keystone, a publication of Cahners Business Information.