This is an exceptional pair of hand raised and hand chased vegetable servers. One is a 'Sample' made in 1907 and the other is an identical 'Special Order' made in 1911'. Extraordinary repoussé and chasing is finely executed. The domed covers have pointed centers covered in cascading laurel leaves underneath a cast and chased finial. The oval bodies are stunningly decorated with French classicism with bands of laurel leaves and repoussé and chased foliage.
Created in Gorham's Louis XVI style, these serving dishes are some of Gorham's finest post-Martelé creations. A large tureen and stand, part of 'The Duke Service', is pictured and described in An Illustrated History of Silverware Design: 'Our ornament is classic and architectural in character, and treated with great delicacy. One of its main elements of strength lies in the fact that it is such exquisite taste, well executed'.(1)
According to the records from the Gorham Archive, there was only one sample made for this vegetable tureen and had a net cost of $360.00 in 1907. Aside from the cast handles and finial, the body and cover were 'hand made' - the body taking 72 hours to raise and the chasing taking an extraordinary 220 hours, mostly done by William Arthur Heath. The second tureen was ordered through the great Chicago, Illinois retailer Spaulding & Co. and had the same net cost. (2)
Both of these rare servers are marked with Gorham's trademark and 'STERLING' One is stamped with the 'sample code 'K/AR' and the other is stamped with the special order number 'VNW' and by the retailer 'SPAULDING & CO/ CHICAGO'. They measure 12.5 inches across the handles by 7 inches wide by 6.5 inches tall to the tops of the finials and weigh an impressive combined 81.50 troy ounces. They are in excellent antique condition with a well done mono removal on one side of each dish.
William Codman, An Illustrated History of Silverware Design (The Gorham Company, Providence, RI, 1930), p. 34.
Costing Slips for K/AR and VNW, Gorham Archives, Brown University Library.