Eoff and Shepard Antique 950 Silver Gravy Boat, NYC, c. 1859
Classical form and decoration create this stunning gravy boat. A large bowl is covered in exceptional hand-engraved scenes of twisting vines and leaves. The cartouches are oval ropes with one side engraved 'AGW' and the other '1859'. The stepped, pedestal base is bordered with a Greek-key band, as is the Underside of the beaded edge at the top of the bowl. The shaped handle is of twisting vines.
During the late 1850's, Ball, Black & Co. started selling silver of the 950 (950 parts per 1000, or 95%) standard, higher quality than 925 sterling (92.5%). While their motive is unknown, most scholars agree it was due to competition from the new Tiffany & Co.'s emerging use of the "English" sterling standard. (The most commonly used standard at the time was the 900 "coin" silver standard.) Ball, Black & Co, then the leading jeweler in New York City, advertised the higher quality silver standard as the best silver available.
This is the only time we know of that an American firm used a standard higher than sterling until Gorham used higher grade silver for their Martelé line.
This rare gravy/ sauce boat is marked underneath 'E&S' along with the retailer 'BALL, BLACK & Co/ 138' and by the '950' silver standard. It measures 8.75 inches long by 4.75 inches wide by 5.75 inches tall, weighs 13.70 troy ounces and is in excellent antique condition.