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George C. Shreve & Co Antique Sterling Silver Aesthetic Movement Water Pitcher, San Francisco, c. 1880's

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This rare water pitcher is a spectacular example of Shreve's creative design and silversmithing capabilities. A simple, stepped ring base and an applied wire around the top are the only unadorned surfaces of the piece.

The shaped body is fashioned with irregular hammering of varying depths to the surface. It is also matted to give the surface a sand-textured look. Applied to the side is a bold handle with hammered joins and ring design.

Stunning appliques decorate the sides of the pitcher. One side is a scene of a vine with berries twisting up the side. The chased details of the actual vine and leaves is incredible.

The other side is an extraordinary scene of a blossoming cherry. A branch is densely populated with leaves, sprouting branches and flowers in bloom. As with the other side, the details are amazing. Also quite unusual and very effective is the way the pieces are attached to the body. The branches and undulating leaves are selectively applied in order to give a wonderful 3-dimensional effect.

Engraved on the front is a beautiful intertwined 'ECB' monogram.

Below the monogram is an large applied song bird soaring with an applied dragonfly and beetle in its vicinity.

Shreve & Co. was one of the most important California silversmithing firms, and is still San Francisco’s preeminent jeweler. They are known for their unique designs and high quality special-order craftsmanship. During 1880's they created some of their most inspired designs.

This rare pitcher is marked underneath "GEO. C. SHREVE & CO./ SAN FRANCISCO/ STERLING' and with their impressed 'bee' mark (in use 1883-94). It measures 7.5 inches wide by 8.5 inches high, weighs 29.35 troy ounces and is in excellent antique condition.