Schmidt House Sentinels

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FROM THE ARCHIVES…

Two near-lifesize metal figures have stood guard over the Schmidt House for more than a century. The statues appear in early photos of the house, but little more was known about them until a customs document found in the OTF Archives revealed that the statues were ordered by Leopold Schmidt in 1907, and were transported from Germany to Seattle on the steamship SERAPIS of the Kosmos shipping line.

Recently, further information on the background of the metal figures was found in the Archives. A 1902 catalog from the “Galvanoplastische Kunstanstalt” factory in Geislingen, Germany shows drawings of many statues for sale. Under the heading “Grössere Figuren, Gartenschmuck” (large figures, garden ornaments) are pictures of “Handel” (Business) and “Industrie” (Industry), the exact statues that Leopold Schmidt purchased over a century ago. In fact, Leopold’s full name is inscribed inside the catalog, and checkmarks were inked above these two statues.

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The figures were based on sculptures by Alexander Tondeur, a German sculptor who lived and worked primarily in Berlin in the 19th Century. The Schmidt House statues were created by a process known as galvanoplastic or electroplating, which deposited metal onto a mold created from the originals.

We’re pleased that documents from our own Archives shed new light on these charming garden ornaments.

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