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Gorham Special Order Sterling and Mixed Metals Yacht Commemorative 'Fancy Waiter' or Tray, Providence, RI, 1889 - Record of the Sachem

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Gorham Special Order Sterling and Mixed Metals Yacht Commemorative 'Fancy Waiter' or Tray, Providence, RI, 1889 - Record of the Sachem owned by Jesse Metcalf

This is a large and exquisite tray documenting the accomplishments of the famous schooner Sachem. The interior is sterling and the frame is bronze. The interior exhibits exceptional engraving. A stunning engraving of the schooner is below the title 'Record of the Sachem'. The fineness of the engraved sails and rigging are a true portrait of the vessel.

Three years of ownership are represented on this tray starting with 1886, the year she was finished being built. In her initial race for the coveted Goelet Cup on August 7th of that year she came in third, the only race during this ownership she did not win. She won her next race on Oct 7th racing from Brenton's Reef to Block Island.

The area underneath the schooner is engraved '1887' and lists her numerous winnings that year including The New York Yacht Club Regatta, Eastern Yacht Club Regatta, Morgan Cup Race, Newport Citizen's Cup, etc.

The last engraved section is for '1888'. The list of winnings for that year include Squadron Cruise Trophies, Goelet Cup, Martha's Vineyard Cup and Newport Citizens Cup. The full text of the engravings can be read at the bottom of the page.

This is a fascinating and beautiful testament to one of America's favorite sports and most famous and successful schooners.

The bronze frame is remarkable. Gorham's foundry produced some of the greatest bronzes of the period and the detail and work on this frame is amazing. The top has two winged putti leaning against a round shield that has never been engraved. It actually looks like a bulls-eye mirror. A beautiful backdrop of classical ornamentation including scroll devices, shells and foliage is lovely.

The exterior of the frame is a gadrooned edge and the interior is a border of bound reeds. Forty seven bolts attach the sterling interior to the frame. All the nuts are original, although one is missing. There is a hanger on the back which also appears old - most likely it was hung on a wall for most of these years accounting for it's spectacular condition.

Designed by Edward Burgess and built by Lawley & Sons, Sachem helped Burgess cement his reputation as America's leading yacht designer. After her initial ownership by F.T. Adams, Sachem was owned jointly by Jesse Metcalf of Rhode Island and Charles Owen, who sold the yacht to Charles H. Smith of New York in December of 1888.(1) Metcalf commissioned Gorham to make this 'fancy waiter' to celebrate his ownership of this historic yacht.

Gorham's records indicate the 'fancy waiter' ordered by Jesse Metcalf was completed in July of 1889. It took 82 hours to assemble ('making'), 50 hours to engrave the center and another 23 hours to cast and hand chase the border. It had a net factory cost of $250.00, likely translating into a $400.00 retail price - a significant sum at the time. Gorham felt the 'fancy waiter' so special that the costing record was placed in cost book 'H', where records for the very best objects were kept. The 'fancy waiter' was entered near pieces sent to the 1889 Paris Exposition.(2)

This rare waiter is marked on the reverse with Gorham's trademark along with 'STERLING', the year mark for 1889 and the special order code '782'. It measures 29 inches wide by 21 inches tall. Out of the frame, the sterling insert weighs 90.4 troy ounces. Both the bronze frame and sterling insert are in excellent condition. The bronze frame, when we acquired it, had been stripped of its patina and we had it professionally repatinated.

  1. "THE YACHT SACHEM SOLD" in The New York Times, 29 December 1888.
  2. Gorham Archives, Cost Book Vol. 'H', p. 13.


Text from the Gorham 'Fancy Waiter' - Record of the Sachem:

The Sachem's first race was for the Goelet Cup at Newport Aug 7th, when out of the builder's hands two weeks, and her crew were not accustomed to her, she came in third, however, in a fleet of eleven schooners.
Oct 1 she sailed a match race with the English schooner Miranda, twenty miles to windward, from Brenton's Reef to Block Island, beat Miranda 8 min 44 sec.
New York Yacht Club Regatta June 5, won first prize, beat the Montauk 9 min.
Eastern Yacht Club Regatta June 23, first prize, beat the Iroquois 6 min 40 sec.
Morgan Cup Race Vineyard Haven to Marblehead, Aug 8, beat Iroquois 40 min 44 sec.
Eastern Yacht Club Regatta, August 11, beat Iroquois 3 min 44 sec.
Providence City Cup race, East Chop to Brenton's Reef, Aug 15, Beat Magic 11 min 40 sec giving double time allowance.
Newport Citizens Cup race, Aug 16, beat Magic, 2 min 20 sec giving double time allowance, and by private arrangement, the Magic received the Cup.
Squadron Cruise Trophies, New London to Newport, Aug 9, beat Sea Fox 4 min 28 sec.
Goelet Cup races, Aug 10, beat Grayling 12 min 29 sec.
Martha's Vineyard Cup race, Aug 11, beat Sea Fox 4 min 55 sec.
Squadron Cruise Trophies, New Bedford to Newport, Aug 17, beat Miranda, 8 min 3 sec.
Newport Citizens Cup race, Aug 20, beat Iroquois, 51 min, giving double time allowance.