Bailey & Co. Pair of Sterling Silver Nautilus - Form Salt Cellars in the Original Box, c. 1865
These fully cast salts are some of the best American salt cellars we've ever seen. Boldly cast as nautilus shells, the body of these salts rests on a cast bed of flowing seaweed (some strands highly polished, the others chased with a matte finish for contrast). The interior of the shells retain their original gilding. They are accompanied by a pair of salt spoons in a 'Tuscan' pattern that rest on a post in the center of the box.
From 1852-1866, Bailey & Co. of Philadelphia (later: Bailey, Banks & Biddle) produced their own silverware in their own shop run by a fellow named George Sharp, who would later go out on his own to make innovative and outstanding silver in his own name. (See Silver Magazine, November/ December 1995, pp. 13-15, 'Some Bailey & Co. Marks and Their Significance' by Don Soeffing. Also: The Encyclopedia of American Silver Manufacturers by Dorothy Rainwater.)
Stunningly naturalistic in their design, the salts fit into a small and select group of realistic nature-inspired objects made in the mid-1860's. The best known silver of this type is Gorham's 'Bird's Nest' pattern. All of it is very rare and highly collected today.
Both the spoons and salt cellars are inscribed 'A.C.M from M.L.T.' in an old English style. The spoons are marked with 'BAILEY & CO.' and the "Lion, 'S', Shield" trademark that Bailey & Co. used on their sterling silver. The box is also marked with Bailey & Co.'s sterling silver trademark and their 819 Chestnut St. location. While the salt cellars are unmarked, they are clearly original. The salt cellars are 2.75 inches high, 4 inches long (base) and 3.25 inches wide (base). One weighs 5.4 troy ounces, the other 4.9 troy ounces. They are in outstanding condition. The box is in very good antique condition.