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Gorham ‘Nuremburg’ Pattern Sterling Silver Soup Ladle, c. 1884

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The rare Nuremburg pattern features scenes of people from medieval times and this example is the largest piece and best cast we have ever seen. This wonderful soup ladle has a wavy, turned lip bowl with its original gilt interior.  Moving upwards along the handle, the irregular shape forms a tree trunk wrapped in branches.  Above the tree is a medieval-inspired hunt scene.  First comes a hound hunting.  Above the handle features a fully cast horse with ornamental gear.  Riding sidesaddle is a woman in a flowing dress and large bonnet, her elbow extended upon which a hawk is perched.  One can only truly appreciate the magnificence of the design and technical virtuosity of the casting when this pattern is seen in this large scale.

This extremely rare pattern is a casting tour-de-force. Designed by Antoine Heller, Gorham's chief designer of the 1880s and early '90s, each piece depicts a different scene of medieval inspiration.  It is very interesting that Heller chose to depict a woman at the hunt, not a typical scene of masculine virility which would have been much more common during the Victorian era.

Heller was trained as a die chaser - he hand finished the molds used in casting silver. Due to the technical difficulty of the work, and the great expense of making dies for casting, this was traditionally the highest paying craft position in a silver (or metal) manufactory. Heller went on to design silver, ultimately working for Tiffany and creating the Olympian pattern. Gorham lured him away after studying at L'Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris to Providence, RI where he created some of the most exquisitely cast patterns ever made including Nuremburg, Old Master, Mythologique, Versailles, Cluny, and St. Cloud (See Gorham Silver by Charles Carpenter).

This very rare soup ladle is marked on the back with Gorham’s trademark and ‘STERLING’.  It measures 12.75 inches long, weighs 7.50 troy ounces and is in excellent condition.