Gorham Extremely Fine Sterling and Cut Glass Special Order Centerpiece, retailed by Grogan Co., Pittsburgh, c. 1908
This exceptional example of the silversmith and glass cutters art was special ordered by Grogan Company, the leading jeweler in Pittsburgh at the turn of the century. The sterling silver base is decorated with a cast and applied scrolling border, flowing repousséd roses, buds and branches and a hand pierced gallery which holds the glass bowl. (Interestingly, the piercing resembles a 'rose' window found in gothic cathedrals, a visual pun played by a sophisticated designer. Please see below.)
The stunning glass insert, with everted rim, features a rock-crystal engraved design of large and bold roses on flowing stems and foliage. This clear cut pattern is accentuated by frosty copper wheel engraved butterflies landing on the roses. The glass is most likely by Hawkes or Sinclair.
Because this is a special order piece, we can document much of its making at the Gorham factory. The piece was chased (repousséd) by Otto Colmentz, a Prussian who emigrated through Australia. The factory price of the silver to Grogan was $72.00, translating into a retail price - for the silver alone - of $145.00. (Please see Sam Hough's report from the Gorham archives for details.) Adjusted for inflation, this represents approximately $3,600 - $4,300 in today's money. We do not know the additional cost of the glass, but we can say this was a very expensive centerpiece when it was made nearly 100 years ago.
The centerpiece measures 13 7/8 inches in diameter and approximately 4 1/2 inches high. It has never been monogrammed and is in excellent condition.