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Bailey & Co. Antique Sterling Silver Repousse Snake-handled Vase, Philadelphia, PA, c. 1850

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This exceptionally rare vase is made with heavy gauge silver and is of superb quality. Vases from this time period are somewhat uncommon and the amount of detail and hand-work on this piece is extraordinary.

The round, domed pedestal base has a flat vertical edge with two rows of applied fine beading. Chased leaves and flowers decorate the area below the plain-surface neck area.

Applied horizontal rows of beading divide the cylindrical body into three sections. The lower section, which is joined to the base, is beautifully repousséd and chased to exhibit 3-dimensional acanthus leaf foliage.

The middle section is beautifully chased and repousséd with flowers and foliage emanating from dramatic cartouches. One cartouche is engraved 'EMN' in an Old English style and the opposite one has never been engraved.

The top section is equally decorated with stunning flowing foliage and the interior of the rim has an applied decorative band.

Applied to the sides are unusual and fantastic handles consisting of two snakes each. Classically inspired, the scaled bodies intertwine with their tails attached to the base of the body and the heads are attached to the top section.

This wonderful vase is stamped underneath with Bailey & Co's sterling trademark along with double lions. According to the Encyclopedia of American Silver Manufacturers, this mark was used from 1855-1867. This is the period that a young George Sharp was running their silver department. About 1861, he went out on his own to make an important contribution to American silver, although he continued to sell his silver using Bailey & Co marks. The vase measures 6.5 inches across the handles by 6.5 inches tall, weighs 13.40 troy ounces and is in excellent antique condition.