Edward G. Trinkkeller Papers, MS 097
Gustaf Edward Trinkkeller was born in Germany in 1872 and immigrated to the United States around the age of 18, after completing an apprenticeship in ornamental ironwork. He established a thriving practice in Los Angeles as an artisan in decorative ironwork for publisher William Randolph Hearst, oil magnate Edward Doheny, comedian Will Rogers, movie producer Cecil B. DeMille, and other well-to-do Southern Californians.
Trinkkeller set up his own metalsmithing workshop at 8th Street and Broadway in Los Angeles in 1896. He later relocated to 1720 South Main Street, where he maintained his workshop until his retirement in 1942. Once established in California, he went by the name Edward G. Trinkkeller. He promoted his business as "Ed Trinkkeller, Manufacturer of Ornamental Iron Work."
In 1915, Trinkkeller crafted an elaborate grille and other ornamental ironwork for the main lobby for publisher William Randolph Hearst's Los Angeles Examiner building, which was designed by architect Julia Morgan. In 1921, Morgan asked Trinkkeller to produce ornamental ironwork for Hearst's estate at San Simeon. Trinkkeller worked for the next 14 years to craft window and bookcase grilles, fireplace screens and utensils, gates, lighting fixtures, and other significant pieces in iron for San Simeon.
To appreciate the skill of wrought iron artisans like Ed Trinkkeller, one must note the difference between the production of wrought iron and cast iron, which are often confused. Wrought iron consists of bending, cutting, or hammering (usually heated, but sometimes cold) rods or sheets of iron into curves, leaves, dragonheads, and other fanciful shapes as directly manipulated by the metalsmith. In contrast, cast ironwork entails the pouring of molten iron into previously designed and fabricated molds. The hammering necessary to the production of wrought iron has the added benefit of pounding out impurities in the iron, making it stronger and more resistant to rust. Wrought iron is then coated with a layer of tung oil or other similar protectant, which brings out the natural luster of the metal. Cast iron has a higher carbon content, which makes it very vulnerable to rust, necessitating periodic coats of paint.
In 1925, four years into his collaboration with Morgan, Trinkkeller undertook an extensive journey to research historic wrought ironwork in Germany, France, Austria, Great Britain, and Italy. In Spain, he toured sites with ornamental Spanish ironwork with Arthur and Mildred Stapley Byne, curators and dealers who purchased art for Hearst. Trinkkeller’s research notebook from this trip is included in the collection.
One of Trinkkeller's masterpieces is a pair of gates designed by Morgan for the entrance to Casa del Sol guesthouse ("C" House) at San Simeon. Trinkkeller used repoussé, the process of ornamenting metallic surfaces with designs in relief hammered out from the back by hand, to produce 26 unique profiles of his fellow artisans at San Simeon. Trinkkeller included his own image, complete with ever-present goatee, in the center row at the bottom of the north gate.
Among the many commissions from Mrs. Edward L. Doheny were the large entrance gate to her Chester Place estate and 34 window grilles for the Doheny Memorial Library at St. John's Seminary in Camarillo, California. Trinkkeller’s grandson, Paul E. Trinkkeller, who helped in the metal shop from 1938 to 1941 while attending UCLA, worked on this large commission.
When not creating ironwork for his distinguished list of clients, Trinkkeller would make bowls, sconces, tables, and other items for family members and friends. His own home at 208 South Highland in Los Angeles had decorative grilles on windows. Ed Trinkkeller also liked to work in copper and brass and in a variety of styles, from Beaux Arts to Arts and Crafts.
Trinkkeller closed his business in 1942 and died September 6, 1945, at the age of 73. His wife, Marie, their children, Elsa and Edward P., and two grandsons survived him.
Other clients included:
- Beverly Wilshire Hotel
- William H. Bliss, Montecito, Calif.
- California Furniture Co.
- F. W. Flint
- J. J. Haggarty
- A. E. Hanson
- Harold Lloyd
- Thomas C. Marlowe
- Mrs. Antonio Moreno
- Pasadena Furniture Co.
- Charles S. Quinn
- J. W. Robinson
- Will Rogers
- Santa Barbara Club
- John Singleton Estate
- W. and J. Sloan
- New York Cloak and Suit House
- Victor Hugo Restaurant, Laguna, Calif.
"A Beautiful Street." Los Angeles Times 5 Sept. 1909: V22.
"Edward G. Trinkkeller." [obituary] Los Angeles Times 8 Sept. 1945: 5.
Edward G. Trinkkeller Papers, Special Collections, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Calif.
"Tourist Cars Still Running." Los Angeles Times 9 Nov. 1913: ST1.