With all the pieces executed to resemble poppies, the state flower of California, this is an absolutely stunning chocolate set. Consisting of a chocolate pot, creamer, sugar, six cups, a tray, and a pair of sugar tongs, this service has bodies designed with overlapping petals with ruffled rims, and they all have stamen in their interior bottoms.
A stunning, glistening, gilt surface shows off its opulent beauty. The tongs, handles, and bases are not gilded and create a striking contrast to the rest of the service. They are all decorated with leaves and engraved within a ribbon, 'ANOAKIA.' The incredible tray, formed as an open poppy flower with a lovely center depicting a pistil with stamens, has various-sized circular indentations to accommodate the bases of the pieces.
This superb service is not marked except for the tongs, which are stamped with Gorham's trademark, 'STERLING,' and with the special order code 'IVM.' When we looked up the tongs in the Gorham Archives, there was a note indicating they were made for the Poppy Set and ordered in 1915 by the San Francisco retailer Shreve, Treat, and Eacret (a brief partnership of Shreve & Co.). When we searched the records, we found the rest of the Poppy Set listed. The total charge to Shreve for the service was $438.00. (1)
Anita Baldwin, the daughter of E. J. "Lucky" Baldwin, was the lucky one who ordered this service from Shreve in San Francisco. Lucky Baldwin earned his "fortunes in stocks from mines during the Comstock boom and from horses." (1) "On Rancho Santa Anita, Baldwin (Lucky) raised 33,000 sheep, 3,000 head of cattle, 500 horses, many hogs and dairy cows. His vineyards yielded 384,000 gallons of wine and 55,000 gallons of brandy. The orchards included 500 acres of orange trees and 3,000 walnut trees. The nursery comprised one million fledgling trees." (2) When he died, he "left about $10,000,000 each to Anita and her eldest daughter...." (3)
ANOAKIA, the name of her ranch, combines Anita, the oak trees on her property, and Arcadia(a town Lucky created).
The tray measures 19.5 inches across the handles by 12.5 inches wide. The cups measure 3.5 inches high to the tops of the handles, and the pot is 9 inches tall. This service weighs a total 112.35 troy ounces ans is in excellent antique condition.
Gorham Mfg. Co., Cost Book V. 39 Silver Ware Specials 1904-1918, n.p., Gorham Archives, John Hay Library, Brown University
Danielle Thompson, Lucky Baldwin's heiress once 'slummed' in Berkeley, Berkeley Architectural Heritage Foundation, October 13, 2009.
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