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Gorham Antique Sterling Silver Figural Pickle or Olive Dish, Providence, RI, 1875, of White House interest

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This small dish is a beautiful example of 1870's sterling from Gorham. Consisting of multiple parts, this lovely small dish is listed in the Gorham records as a pickle or olive dish. The gondola shaped body is beautifully shaped. It has a soft, matte finish and an overturned edge decorated with fine engraving. The bow terminates with a classical scroll device. These decorations on gondolas are called 'risso', usually an iron attachment which helps protect the boat (the things we learn doing this!).

The stern of the boat rises like a wave and terminates with the mask of a sea creature. Tending the oars from above is a kneeling, winged cherub.

Attached underneath is a stunning keel pierced with a flowing foliate design. It is instrumental in balancing the dish with the ends of the oars, which is a stunning design.

A reproduction of this piece is pictured in Gorham Silver by Charles Carpenter, Jr. It notes that it was 'a reproduction of a High Victorian design of the 1870's made by Gorham in the 1940s, was given to the White House by the National Society of Interior Decorators in 1961' (see ill. 64, p. 62).

This is the period that First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy was restoring the White House and this gift likely was meant to go with the 'Hiawatha Fruit Stand' or centerpiece that First Lady Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant purchased for the White House at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition.

Above see an archival image of the Hiawatha Fruit Stand, or centerpiece, purchased by First Lady Mrs. Ulysses S Grant for the White House in 1876. Gorham Company Archives, Brown University Library.

This beautiful dish is marked with Gorham's trademark and 'STERLING/ 115/ H'. It measures 8.25 inches long by 4.5 inches high to the top of the cherub and weighs 6.95 troy ounces. It is in very good antique condition. There is an old engraved shield in the boat (most likely covering up a small monogram) and wear to the gilding in the bowl.