Gale & Willis Antique Sterling Silver Coffee and Tea Service, New York City, 1859
This is a spectacular and rare coffee set by the great NYC partnership of Gale & Willis. It consists of a creamer, covered sugar bowl, waste bowl, teapot and coffee pot with their rare original stands and a pair of sugar tongs.
Very Neoclassical in style, the bodies are formed with horizontal, undulating and flat panel sides. The domed covers of the tall coffee pot, tea pot and covered two-handled sugar bowl are surmounted with urn-shaped finials.
Exquisite engraving decorate the pieces including the spouts and handles. This ornate but refined hand-engraving is executed with foliate and floral scenes bordered by classical roundel and foliate decorations.
Incorporated into the design are engraved shields on each of the sides. One side is engraved 'C.A.D.B.' while the other has never been engraved.
The tongs, which are unmarked, are engraved in the same manner and have the same original monogram. They have twist handles and talon grips for cubed sugar.
William Gale started his successful business in New York City in 1822. The name was changed to Gale & Willis when he partnered with his son-in-law John R. Willis from 1859-1862. The company later went on to become Dominick & Haff who, in 1928, were purchased by Reed & Barton.(1)
A near identical nine piece service attributed to Gale, North & Dominick, made circa 1869, is in the collection of the Dallas Museum of Art. The coffee pot and stand are illustrated in Charles Venable's Silver in America, p. 53, fig 3.5.
It is an art historically important pattern being one of the first colonial style tea and coffee services made in this country. Most of the earliest colonial revival objects were inspired by the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876. This service predates that fair by 17 years and is one of the earliest examples of this rare pattern that we have seen.
This rare and stunning set is marked underneath 'GALE & WILLIS/ NEW YORK/ 925 STERLING' and with the 1859 date within a diamond. The coffee pot measures 10 inches tall by 8 inches across the handle and spout. The service weighs a combined 96.75 troy ounces and is in excellent antique condition.
Dorothy T. Rainwater and Judy Redfield, Encyclopedia of American Silver Manufacturers, 4th ed. (Schiffer Publishing Company, 1998), p.118.
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