These rare berry bowls are a striking form exhibiting exceptional design and silversmithing. Oval bodies are beautifully pierced with classical inspiration below shaped rims decorated and reinforced with applied banding along their outer edges.
The spectacular bases are wonderful frameworks of pierced decorations on the fronts and backs and animal figures perched on stepped plinths on the sides. These four design elements attach to central conical devices supporting the bowls. The openness of the bases is visually striking.
Also quite striking are the wonderful handles of cast putti with one arm holding ribbons from which portrait medallions hang. All of the medallions are a female profile with a bird under her chin against a stippled background. The other hand hangs onto wing-like leaf ornaments with berries attaching to the upper rim.
Engraved on one side of the bowls is a beautifully engraved intertwined 'SBW' monogram. While these are a pair and have always been together, there are variations to the interior engraving, and the pendant drops underneath.
According to a June 6, 1869, Gorham costing record, the '355' berry bowl had a manufacturing cost of $109.62. This was a large sum of money in 1869, and their retail price would have been even higher.
Here is an original photo courtesy of the Gorham Archives at the John Hay Library, Brown University.
These rare bowls are marked with Gorham's trademark and 'STERLING' along with the 1869 date code 'B' and the '355' model number. One is also stamped with a star and the other with a heart and an 'ON'(?) mark.
Provenance: Sotheby's June 20, 1996, lot 176. Private Collection
Measuring 14.5 inches long by 7 inches wide by 7.75 inches high to the tops of the handles, these exceptional berry bowls weigh a combined 61 troy ounces. They are in excellent antique condition with traces of original gilding in some crevices. As mentioned above, there are variations to the interior engraving and central drops.
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