These rare servers are the finest we have had the pleasure to offer. The rectangular bases are supported by four beautifully cast hairy paw feet clutching round spheres. The areas where it attaches to the body spreads outward and morphs into foliate design.
Applied borders cascade over the sides and terminate with smooth, irregular, wavy edges. The removable covers fit onto small ledges below the borders.
Unlike the surface of the bases, the covers are decorated with robust foliage around the sides. The stunning display of repoussé and finishing exhibit incredible skill depicting scenes of scrolling foliage and flowers in bloom. Cartouches are on both sides of the covers and on one side are engraved 'E McC'.
Applied around the outer edges of the cover tops are bands similar to the borders on the bases. The corners have foliate devices that act as feet when the finials are removed and the covers used as extra serving dishes if needed.
Exceptionally cast full elephants are used as handles to the tureens. They are in an expressive walking stance and finely caparisoned. These magnificent creatures are attached to oval bases with applied rope banding around their circumference.
The first world's fair held in the United States, The Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations, was held in New York City in 1853. Known as the New York Crystal Palace Exhibition, it followed closely on the success of the first world's fair, London's Crystal Palace Exposition of 1851.
A crystal palace, similar to London's, and an observation tower, 'Latting's Observatory', were built in today's Bryant Park and many American firms who did not exhibit at London's fair proudly showed their wares and inventions at New York's successful fair.
Bailey & Co. of Philadelphia was one of the American firms to exhibit at the world's fair. Like many of the silverware makers, Bailey displayed both production and unique, custom pieces. Gleason's Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion of 1853 recorded Bailey's display at the fair. In the lower center of the display can be seen the pair of entree servers for sale here. See the detail below.
Gleason's praised the servers as 'richly chased, a richly caparisoned elephant on the top, which can be removed so as to use as eight dishes instead of four.'
These wonderful serving dishes are marked underneath 'BAILEY & CO/ CHESTNUT ST. PHILA/ 136' along with the shop marks. They measure 12.5 inches wide by 9.5 inches wide by 6.75 inches high to the top of the handles. Together, these tureens weigh an outstanding 153.55 troy ounces and are in excellent antique condition.