John Wendt (probably), Ball, Black & Co. Antique Sterling Silver Egyptian Revival Centerpiece Bowl, c. 1870
This impressive centerpiece is created with unusual and bold design elements. A large bowl with a flared body is wonderfully engraved with the initials 'ASP'.
Supporting the bowl is a central column constructed of various parts. The uppermost section resembles a torch decorated with bands of fine beading and unusual vertical line and dot design against fine horizontal lines.
The base of this element is attached to a sphere which is attached to a flared pedestal bordered with more beading. Strengthening the central column are three shaped supports which terminate at the stepped, plinth base. Beautiful castings of Egyptian masks decorate these supports.
This rare and unusual centerpiece is marked underneath by the New York firm 'BALL, BLACK & Co' along with 'ENGLISH STERLING'. It measures 12.75 inches high by 10.75 inches across the bowl, weighs 40.20 troy ounces and is in excellent antique condition.
According to an article by Don Soeffing in Silver Magazine: 'For an extended period of time, Ball, Black & Co was the leading jeweler in New York City and the nation'. Soeffing continues: 'the firm maintained a close relationship with a number of skilled silversmiths, who provided a steady supply of the richest and most stylish silver goods'.(1) Among this list of great silversmiths is John Rudolph Wendt who 'did not use a maker's mark on silverware produced for Ball, Black & Co... It should also be noted that some of Wendt's silverware produced for the firm was marked Eng' Sterling or English Sterling'.(2)
D. Albert Soeffing, 'Ball, Black & Co. Silverware Merchants' in Silver Magazine, (Rancho Santa Fe: Vol. XXX, No. 6, Nov/Dec 1988), p. 44.