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Gorham "Bird's Nest" Antique Sterling Silver Large Sifter, Providence, RI, c. 1870

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Introduced c.1865, this pattern is one of the rarest and most unusual of the American naturalistic designs in silver. It is comprised of multiple castings and stampings which were later hand-finished for detail and then assembled into various serving pieces (and ice cream spoons and nut picks). 

The handle is in the form of a tree branch that splits into three branches at the top which holds the bird's nest. The base of the handle has two large leaves which act as both decoration and support. The beautifully cast, 3-dimensional nest, with a gilt interior,  contains three eggs. A cast bird with wings spread is perched on the nest watching over the eggs.The shaped bowl, which is fluted and pierced, is engraved on the back with an artistic cipher that appears to include a monogram of interlaced back-to-back 'C's' with a central 'M' initials.

According to the records at the Gorham Archives, this server is a 'large sifter', although they are often mistakenly identified today as peas spoons or ice spoons. (And they may have been used as such as well.)

This lovely server is marked on the back of the bowl with Gorham's trademark and 'STERLING.' It measures 8.75 inches long, weighs 2.55 troy ounces, and is in excellent condition with light even wear to the gilding in the bowl.