Paul Somerson – technology magazine editor, scholar, and Arts & Crafts silver and metalwork authority – died May 25th at the age of 68.
Following his career as a successful tech author and editor of the publication PC Magazine and editor-in-chief of PC/Computing, he gained respect in the Arts & Crafts community by becoming an expert on early 20th-century American Arts and Crafts silver and metalwork. He created an antiques business – Chicago Silver – with a popular reference website chicagosilver.com and presented a seminar at the 21st National Arts & Crafts Conference at the Grove Park Inn in 2008 on “Clara Welles and the Kalo Shop”.
At the time, he also brought pieces of his collection of Arts & Crafts silver to display – which as of 2008 was the largest Kalo Shop collection in the country. His collection will again be displayed at part of an exhibition on Arts and Crafts design at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts opening in November 2018.
“Paul was truly a pioneer in the field of Arts and Crafts silver and jewelry” added Bruce Johnson. “Paul always credited author Rosalie Berbarian, owner of ARK Antiques for the informative catalogs she published drawing attention to Arts and Crafts silver and jewelry. Paul however utilized his computer background and experience to develop the first comprehensive website, covering silversmiths, coppersmiths, and jewelers not only in Chicago, but in California, Boston, and New York. At his detailed website, chicagosilver.com, along with photographs of examples of their work, Paul included critical shopmarks, key to identifying pieces which had been long overlooked. While his friends will mourn his passing, thousands more who never knew Paul either have or will someday benefit from his research and online publication.“
In a recent tribute article by Michael J. Miller of his beloved PC Mag, colleagues described him as “the classic New York City editor: brilliant, mercurial, proud of every word he wrote”, for his sense of humor and “encyclopedic knowledge of jokes often making him the life of the party” in addition to being “…extremely creative and was never without a new ingenious idea.” Outside the workplace, he loved good writing, a lively conversation, amazing food, and walking on the beaches of Westport, MA.
He was survived by his wife Terry and son Sam of Westport, his sister Roseanne of Providence, his aunt Betty Aptaker of Newtown, CT and his many nieces, nephews and cousins.
A memorial service will be held June 23rd at 10:30 am at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum. Donations to the RISD Museum or to Habitat for Cats are appreciated.
Rhode Island School of Design Museum: 20 North Main St. Providence, RI 02903
Habitat for Cats: PO Box 79571, North Dartmouth, MA 02747