Gorham silver was founded in Providence, Rhode Island 1831 by Jabez Gorham, a master craftsman, in partnership with Henry L. Webster. The firm's chief product was spoons of coin silver. The company also made thimbles, combs, jewelry, and other small items. In 1842, a tariff which effectively blocked the importation of silverware from outside the United States was passed, which aided the American silver industry. Jabez Gorham did not take full advantage of this opportunity, but in 1847 Jabez retired and his son, John Gorham, succeeded him as head of the company. John Gorham introduced mechanized production methods, enlarged the premises in downtown Providence, improved the designs, and expanded the product line. In 1852 Gorham toured many of Europe's silver workshops and manufacturers, speaking with individual specialists, including master craftsmen and toolmakers. He also sought out highly skilled foreign workmen to train his American workers. George Wilkinson, a premier designer and workshop manager, was hired from England.
During the heyday of American silver manufacturing, approximately 1850 - 1940, Gorham was highly influential.
In 1865 a charter was granted by the Rhode Island legislature by the name of "Gorham Manufacturing Company".
In 1890 the company relocated to a factory on Adelaide Avenue in Providence.
In 1895 the famed Gorham designer, William C. Codman, designed Chantilly, which has become the most famous of Gorham's flatware patterns. Matching holloware has been made in both sterling and silverplate.
In 1905 the firm opened a show and sales office on Fifth Avenue in New York City, which was designed for Gorham by renowned architect Stanford White.
The company was purchased by Textron in 1967, a move that some critics claim decreased quality due to management's lack of understanding of Gorham's specialty, producing high-quality sterling silverware and holloware.