Samuel Yellin

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A Samuel Yellin lamp at the Cathedral of Learning in Pittsburgh, PA

Samuel Yellin (1885–1940), was an American master blacksmith, born in Galicia, Poland where at the age of eleven he was apprenticed to an iron master. By the age of sixteen he had completed his apprenticeship. During that period he gained the nickname of "Devil," both for his work habits and his sense of humor. Shortly after this he left Poland, traveling through Europe to England, and from there, in 1906, he departed for America. By 1907 he was taking classes at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art and within a year was teaching classes there, a position that he maintained until 1919.

In 1909 he opened his own shop and in 1915 the firm of Mellor, Meigs and Howe, for whom he designed and created many commissions, designed Yellin a new studio at 5520 Arch Street in Philadelphia where he was to remain until his death in 1940. The building continued to act as a functioning business under Yellin’s son Harvey’s direction. After his demise it served as the Samuel Yellin Museum.

During the building boom of the 1920s Yellin’s studio employed as many as 250 workers, many of them European artisans. Although Yellin appreciated traditional craftsmanship and design, he always championed creativity and the development of new designs. Samuel Yellin’s handiwork can be found on some of the finest buildings in America.

Selected universities, colleges and schools[edit]

Selected institutional or commercial works[edit]

  • Federal Reserve Bank of New York, New York
  • Central Savings Bank, New York
  • Ford Motor Company, New York
  • Dime Savings Bank, New York
  • Detroit Public Library
  • General Motors Co., New York
  • Victor Talking Machine Co,
  • Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey
  • Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts
  • Harkness Tower (Gates), Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
  • Union Station, Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Peabody Museum, New Haven, Connecticut
  • American Radiator Building, New York
  • Detroit Institute of Art, Detroit, Michigan
  • International Business Machine (IBM) New York
  • Barclay-Vesey Building, New York
  • Morristown Memorial, Morristown, New Jersey
  • Sarasota Court House, Sarasota, Florida
  • Union Pacific RR Station, Boise, Idago
  • Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Company Building, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Allegheny County Courthouse, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Fidelity Bankers Trust, Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Grand Rapids Art Gallery, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Salvation Arm Headquarters, New York, New York
  • Aetna Life Insurance Co, Hartford, Connecticut
  • Law Library, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington
  • The Cloisters (Metropolitan Museum of New York), New York, New York
  • San Diego Air Station, San Diego, California
  • Candoro Marble Works (showroom door), Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Baltimore Trust Company, Baltimore, Maryland
  • Citizens Bank, Weston, West Virginia

Selected ecclesiastical works[edit]

Selected residential works[edit]

Architects whose names appear in Yellin’s job book[edit]


  • Andrews, Jack, Samuel Yellin – Metelsmith, Skipjack Press, Ocean Pines Maryland, 2000
  • Andrews, Jack, Samuel Yellin, Metalworker, Anvil’s Ring, Summer, 1982
  • Architecture magazine, April 1929
  • Bach, Penny Balkin, Public Art in Philadelphia, Temple University Press, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1992
  • Bedford, Steven McLeod, John Russell Pope – Architect of Empire, Rizzoli International Publications, NY, NY 1998
  • Bok, Edward W., America’s Taj Mahal – The Singing Tower of Florida, The Georgia Marble Company, Tate, Georgia c. 1929
  • Davis, Myra T., Sketches in Iron, no publishing information
  • Detroit Institute of Arts – The Architecture, The Detroit Institute of Arts 1928
  • Fariello, Anna, "Samuel Yellin: Sketching in Iron," Metalsmith Magazine Fall 2003
  • Federman, Peter, The Detroit Public Library, Classical America IV, Classical America 1977
  • Gallery, John A., Editor, Philadelphia Architecture – A Guide to the City, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts 1984
  • Heilbrun, Margaret, The Architecture of Cass Gilbert, Inventing the Skyline, Columbia University Press, New York, NY 2000
  • Kvaran, Einar Einarsson, Architectural Sculpture of America, unpublished manuscript
  • Teitelman, Edward & Richard W. Longstreth, Architecture in Philadelphia – A Guide, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts 1981
  • Wattenmaker, Richard J., Samuel Yellin In Context, Flint Museum of Arts, Flint, Michigan 1985
  • Wister, Cret, Gilchrist et al., Melor Meigs & Howe, Graybooks, Boulder Colorado 1991 (reprint of 1923 work)
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