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Gorham Aesthetic Movement Antique Sterling Silver and Steel Tanto - Letter Opener or Paper Knife, Providence, RI, c. 1875-80

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This is an extremely rare item by the Gorham Manufacturing Company. Based on a Japanese dagger, or tanto, this wonderful knife has a saber-shaped steel blade. It is attached to the handle by means of a pinned fitting. This unusual construction is in the form of a cloud. The intricate design which envelops the whole handle is of a dragon in clouds. The dragon is partially gilt.

The scabbard which holds the knife is slightly curved mimicking the shape of the blade and is lined with leather. On one side there is a rectangular loop. Wonderful Japonesque scenery covers the entire surface. One side depicts three Buddhist monks praying and the other side has three Buddhist monks making offerings to the clouds. The halos on the figures are gilt.

This amazing knife is marked on the steel blade with Gorham's trademark. It is also marked on the handle where it slides into the scabbard. Due to the mark location, they are mostly rubbed off but one can still discern them along with the sterling stamp. The tanto measures just over 7.5 inches long and is in very good antique condition with light wear to the highlights and original gilding.