Gorham & Thurber Extremely Rare and Fine Coin Silver Presentation Water Pitcher, c. 1851, of Rhode Island Historical Interest
Of inverted pear shape, this exceptional piece features all the details of the rococo revival popular around 1850. Bold repoussé work of c-scrolls intertwined with foliage and flowers center a scrolling foliate cartouche. The stepped foot has a ring of entre-lac above a lower band of repousséd flowers which rest on a die rolled band of acanthus leaf decoration. The same die rolled band is repeated at the neck of the pitcher. Above the neck are more repousséd flowers and foliage, then a cast and applied edge of scrolling foliage and flowers is applied at the rim. The cast and applied handle also displays cast foliage along with chased flowers and foliage.
Gorham and Thurber went all out on this piece. The addition of such details as the band of entre-lac, the casting and chasing work on the handle, the heavy applied border at the rim and the exuberant repoussé work make it evident that this was a trophy piece.
This is a very early piece of holloware from Gorham, they had only just started making holloware in 1850 with a total of 14 employees. Clearly, these former spoon makers set very high standards for themselves and the rest is history. This is the earliest piece of Gorham holloware we have ever seen on the market.
The cartouche is beautifully engraved:
BY LADIES OF
THE FIRST UNIVERSALIST
Rev. Henry & Mrs Eliza Ann Bacon,
PROVIDENCE, R.I. SEPTR 4TH 1851.
"Your memory will be to us a joy for ever."'
in a variety of wonderful styles inside fluidly engraved scrolling lines similar to pen work calligraphy of the period. It is signed, 'Engvd by Babcock'. If I could engrave this well, I would sign my work too!
Reverend Henry Bacon is known for the active role he played as a peacemaker during Dorrs Rebellion in 1841-2 and the ensuing constitutional crisis in Rhode Island. (This was a movement in support of expanding male suffrage in Rhode Island. In the process, two state governments were elected, there was an armed uprising, etc.)
According to the 1844 Providence Directory, Reverend Bacon lived at 95 Friendship Street. Listed at 86 Friendship Street almost across the street from Bacon, and working at 72 Westminster, is George Babcock, watchmaker and engraver.
This water pitcher is marked underneath with 'GORHAM & THURBER', 'PROVIDENCE, RI' and 'PURE COIN'. It measures 12.75 inches high, weighs 27.05 troy ounces and is in very good antique condition.