This rare form is a stunning example of an 'After Dinner' or 'Black' coffee pot by Gorham. These forms were also referred to as 'Turkish' coffee pots and varied greatly in design and medium including copper with silver mounts.
This large sterling example incorporates various design elements to create an exotic and stunning work of art.
Dramatic shapes and decoration create a sense of movement throughout. The hinged lid is a lovely dome with decorative swirl design surmounted with a foliate finial. A row of fine beading borders the rim which compliments the row of larger beading around the attached pedestal base.
The tall, slender neck of the body is similarly executed with lovely swirl design and enhanced around its base with stunning leaves and 3-dimensional flowers. The base of the neck is delineated with a band of beading. The section below the neck is an inverse flute used to connect the neck to the lower body. This pot is made from multiple parts and assembled together to create this lovely piece.
The main body is a globe with stunningly chased flowers and leaves. Various depictions of roses and chrysanthemums decorated the front and back sides of the body and the bottom portion of the spout.
Two large reserves are on the sides - one being engraved with an original 'C' monogram.
Completing the charm of this pot are the dramatic handle and spout. Both executed with graceful curves, the spout is mostly unadorned while the handle is covered with foliate design.
Gorham's costing records indicate this 'black coffee' was a 'sample' or special unique piece created by the company to sell retail. It took an exceptional amount of work to make this one piece.
Completed on June 9, 1896, 218 hours of work went into its creation. Of that time, 39 hours went to making (spinning, turning and assembling). An incredible 170 hours were devoted to chasing the decoration at a cost of $68.00. (That is 3.4 fifty hour work weeks spent on the decoration alone.) Five hours were spent carving the ivory insulators. It was then finished, polished and oxidized.
Silver and labor costs came to $114.72, to which was added $22.94 (20%) for overhead, $45.89 (33%) for profit and $9.18 (8%) for administrative costs for a total $192.73 cost. Seeing how wonderful the black coffee pot was, they then set the net factory price at $240.00, or about $400.00 retail.(1)
In 1896, $400.00 was a lot of money. The $400.00 price in 1896 dollars represents about $11,600.00 in 2014 dollars when adjusting for consumer inflation or it represents about $91,900.00 when adjusting for changes in skilled wages.(2)
Gorham was so happy with their creation, they decided to use it in an illustration on page 14 of their 1898 booklet Suggestions, meant to spur the imagination about the use of silver in the home.
Illustration from Gorham's 1898 Suggestion booklet showing the 7797 sample coffee pot mid-left shown below.
This exotic antique sterling silver coffee pot is marked underneath with Gorham's trademark, 'STERLING' along with the date mark for 1896. It is also stamped '3 7/8' along with the 'sample' number in an oval '7797'. It measures 13.75 inches tall, weighs an impressive 35.75 troy ounces and is in excellent condition.
Gorham Mfg. Co., Costing Slip for '7797 Black Coffee', Gorham Archives, John Hay Library, Brown University .