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Gorham Antique Sterling Silver 'Special Order' Garniture Suite, Providence, RI, 1900


Gorham/ Theodore B. Starr 'Rose Dinner Ware' owned by James Ben Ali Haggin

This is a rare and exceptional garniture suite comprising a centerpiece/ floral arranger with original silver plate liner, two large compotes and two smaller compotes. The interior of the centerpiece is beautifully gilded.  Each piece is engraved with a lovely 'JAH' monogram for James Ali Haggin.  The cascading rims have shaped edges with applied scrolls and flowers. The areas above the edges are repousséd with wonderful, floral scenes of roses against hammered backgrounds.

The centerpiece has four scrolling feet with bold foliate and floral decoration. The liner is shaped to conform to fit beautifully into the bowl and has two loop handles. The interior of the liner has some staining to the bottom due to use. The large and smaller compotes have bulbous columns and spreading, domed bases with applied scrolls to the outer edges and complimentary repousséd floral and foliate scenes.  

All pieces bear the mark of retailer 'THEODORE B. STARR/ NEW YORK/ STERLING' along with Gorham's trademark and date mark for 1900. (Except for the centerpiece which lacks Gorham's maker's mark.)

The centerpiece  measures 16 inches long by 13 inches wide by 4.5 inches high, weighs 60.20 troy ounces and is marked with Gorham's 'Specials' number '6823'. The larger compotes measure 9.5 inches wide by 4.75 inches high, weigh a combined 47.75 troy ounces and are marked with Gorham's 'Specials' number '6504'. The smaller compotes measure 7.25 inches wide by 3.75 inches high, weigh a combined 28.85 troy ounces and are marked with Gorham's 'Specials' number '6505'

The combined weight of the suite is 136.80 troy ounces and it is in very good/ excellent antique condition.  The interior of the compotes show traces of original gilding and there is some wear to the silver plating of the liner of the centerpiece.

Finding a complete, original garniture suite intact is amazing, and in this exceptional condition is extraordinary. Having the various items gives one many options for entertaining in style. 

Provenance:

James Ben Ali Haggin practiced law in Mississippi until he got the 'gold fever' in 1849 and went to California. He amassed fortunes through mining and owning mines in "California, Colorado, Nevada, Montana and other states". "Much of the mine profits was put into California lands, a single tract of which measured 400,000 acres". Haggin also raised stock and bred thoroughbred horses. He later moved to New York City and was involved with railroads and Manhattan real estate. (1)  At the turn of the century, he was one of the wealthiest people in the country.

For a detailed account of his life see: http://lexhistory.org/wikilex/james-ben-ali-haggin

From Gorham's Records:

A few examples of each of these pieces were made for Theodore B. Starr in New York City and were called 'Rose Dinner Ware'.  Combined, the pieces were chased for 247 hours and had a net cost of $542.75 meaning a retail price about $680.00 in 1900.  This was a significant sum when one considers the first cars - true luxury objects - cost significantly less than this.

Endnote:

  1. "James B. Haggin Dies in Newport", in The New York Times, September 13, 1914.
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