This is a rare and stunning set of salad forks. ‘Old Medici’ is a detailed and intricate pattern of renaissance inspired motifs. ‘Old Medici’ was designed by Antoine Heller, Gorham's preeminent flatware designer of the late 19th century. It is a multi-motif pattern, meaning that each piece has a different design. These forks feature the full figure of a maiden carrying a wooden bucket. The front and back of the tines and one-quarter of the handle retain the original gilding.
Salad forks from this period are extremely rare. ‘Old Medici’ was introduced in 1883 and this salad fork is pictured in Gorham’s 1888 catalog so it was still in production then, but probably not much longer as Gorham changed the design of salad forks in the 1890s.
‘French Salad’, or green salad as we know it today, was only served at the tables of the richest and most style-conscious families until the early 20th century. Lettuce was not readily transportable until the development of Iceberg lettuce in 19031. Before that date, green salads could only be served by those with their own garden or those with great financial resources. The gilding on the tines would have protected the silver from the acidic nature of salad dressing.
In the early 20th century, the salad course would become popular in the American diet as part of the healthy eating reforms promulgated by the Progressive reformers of the period. The salad course is still popular today and the demand for these very rare pieces is quite high.
Provenance: Louise Tevis Breckenridge Sharon
These exceptional forks are marked with Gorham's trademark and 'STERLING/ COPYRIGHTED’’. There is also a French import mark so this set did some traveling. They measure 6.75 inches long, weigh a total of 16.90 troy ounces, and are in excellent crisp condition. There is slight wear to the gilding on the back where they rest on the table. They are monogrammed on the back with an ‘S’ in an old English style.
Hood, William P. et al.: Tiffany Silver Flatware, p.89
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