£1,000 – 5,000
Another transatlantic departure from my normal British staple, but who can resist really great mixed metal Gorham aesthetic work. Courtesy of the UK assay rules (pre 1974) we are starved of such items in English silver. This hand hammered copper bodied coffee pot, in the arabesque or Persian style, has applied silver work classically borrowed from Japan, hinting at the art nouveau movement that was to emerge in Europe a decade letter. If just one piece is to tell the story of late Victorian design influences, this is it!
On one side of the coffee pot base in applied silver you have a Japanese landscape scene of a man with bull or ox and tree. On the other side you have a flower (a carnation possibly) with butterflies. The base of the coffee pot’s stem is finely decorated with a repeating flower and leaf pattern with arabesque style borders. There is further applied silver to the lid and top of the stem. The overall effect is striking.
What makes this pot particularly special is the condition which is immaculate and original. The copper retains a good dark patina. There are no bruises or dings and the lid and hinge fit perfectly. It is really striking “in the flesh” as I hope the photos convey.
The coffee pot is fully marked for Gorham & Co, with model number E40 and date letter “P” for 1883.
This style of silver has its origins in Japan. In 1876 Christopher Dresser visited Japan and acquired many objects that he sold to Tiffany in New York. That in turn helped inspire Edward C. Moore, Tiffany’s design director, to produce silver and copper pieces in the Japanese style, displayed at the 1878 Paris Exposition to great acclaim. Gorham, as one of the leading US firms, was quick to adapt to this new trend and produced a range of Japanese style mixed metal silver from c. 1880, of which this is a prime example. The arabesque theme is probably also inspired by Tiffany, with whom Edward C Moore, was also particularly enamoured.
The British Museum has a plainer example of this coffee pot (also model E40) with very red copper. Judith Roe, curator, has written extensively on this piece which can be seen on the British Museum website at the link. A similar example is also held by the Rhode Island School of Design Museum and by the Driehaus Museum, Chicago whose curator has also written extensively on this coffee pot at this link.
The insulators on this piece are I believe ivory and this item has been registered for sale under the Ivory Act 2018. I will ship this piece to US buyers but note that the insulators will be replaced with comparable resin or wooden insulators at the purchaser’s cost.
Price range: £4,250
Maker: Gorham & Co
Date : 1883
Marks: Gorham & Co, E40, Gorham anchor, date letter p
Material: Sterling silver, copper
Size: 33.0 cm high
Weight : 32.5 oz, 922 grams (not silver weight)