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Orivit Sterling Silver Art Nouveau Coffee and Tea Service with Tray, Cologne, Germany, c. 1904

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Orivit produced sterling items for a very limited period just after the turn of the 20th century; a complete coffee service such as this is quite rare. Art nouveau silver, in general, is scarce and this is a lovely and famous example fashioned in an unusual way. Made from heavy gauge silver, the bodies are squat in form with beautiful feather or fan decoration. Lovely proportions and curves of the pieces create an intriguing design. There is light gilding to the interior of the creamer and covered sugar bowl. The original tray is also quite rare and striking.

Known by the numbers stamped underneath it (49-55), this particular model was manufactured with either wooden or silver handles. An example of this model was exhibited at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis in 1904. An identical set, with silver handles, is part of the permanent collection of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.(1)

Orivit started out in the 1890's mainly as a bronze, and later, a pewter manufacturer. Orivit won a gold medal at the 1900 Paris World Exhibition and in 1903 began acquisition of the famous Huber Press, 'which used hydraulic power to press the sides of the sheet of metal to be fashioned onto the formative die. Thanks to this process, only one die was needed to impress complicated reliefs into a receptacle wall.'(2)

This coffee service is a rare example of silver made with this innovative technology. The cost savings would have been great for Orivit if they could have perfected the process. However, 'the necessary water pressure of over 5000 atmospheres was practically impossible to control, above all at Orivit's presentation of the machine at the 1904 St. Louis World Exhibition. A leak caused all those present to be completely drenched.' (3)

This stunning service is marked underneath 'ORIVIT/ STERLING SILVER/ 925' along with German hallmarks and the model numbers 49, 50, 51, 52 and 55. The coffee pot measures 6.5 inches high and the tray measures 16 inches long by 10 inches deep. The total weight is 75.85 troy ounces and it is in excellent antique condition with light wear to the original gilding.


  1. Annelies Krekel-Aalberse, Art Nouveau and Art Deco Silver (New York: Harry Abrams, 1989), p.164.
  2. Dedo von Kerssenbrock-Krosigt, Modern Art of Metalwork/Brohan Museum, (Berlin: Brohan Museum, 2001), p. 234.
  3. loc. cit.