Jeff Herman was a preeminent silver conservator and wonderful human being. After being drawn to jewelry in high school, Jeff attended the Portland School of Art, now Maine College of Art. While at PSA, Jeff was influenced by two master silversmiths, Ernest “Tommy” Thompson and Harold “Hal” Schremmer. Upon graduating, he worked for Gorham as a designer, sample maker and technical illustrator. He then went on to work at Pilz Ltd., a small silver company where he created ecclesiastical and specialty-ware, before going into business on his own.
As a result of his early experiences, Jeff quickly built an international reputation for honest advice and quality craftsmanship, with special attention to surface finishing. Jeff restored, reconstructed and hand finished everything from everyday disposal-damaged flatware to historically important tankards, tureens and tea services made by the likes of Paul Revere, Paul Storr, Hester Batemen, Jabez Gorham, Louis Tiffany, Willian D. Whiting, and Fletcher and Gardiner. Jeff was appointed “Fellow” and the “United States Ambassador to the Institute of Professional Goldsmiths”, based in England.
As an environmentalist, Jeff was a great advocate of using the safest methods of silversmithing and developed his own line of silver cleaning products that are now the benchmark for all silver conservation use, from household to museum.
In 1989, Jeff founded the Society of American Silversmiths (SAS) to preserve and promote America’s silversmithing heritage, and he remained at its helm as Executive Director. Jeff built up a repository of highly valuable information on the SAS website and was keen to share information in the most generous way possible.
In about 2001, Peter Johns, the inventor of Argentium Silver, was visiting Stern Leach at the same time Jeff was hosting a conference of SAS silversmiths, and invited Peter to give a presentation about Argentium Silver, “AS”. Jeff was then instrumental in bringing Argentium Silver to the United States, five years later.
Jeff also collaborated with Lampert Precision Welding (a German company) advancing the technology of their PUK welder. Michael Ittensohn, at Lampert, describes Jeff as forward thinking and truly inspiring. The company is incredibly grateful for his contributions to their technology.
Many have commented that meeting and talking with, or working with Jeff, changed their lives forever. The metals world has lost one of its shining stars. We are grateful for all Jeff gave to our community and will cherish his memory.