This is one of the rarest forms we have ever seen in Kirk silver. It is an exquisite design with exceptional work. The large bowl has four areas of stunning repoussé. Two of these areas are densely covered with repoussé designs of various flowers and leaves (peonies, roses and black-eyed Susans?). One of these areas has a cartouche engraved 'JHW'.
The other two areas showcase scenes of fruit. One scene incorporates clusters of grapes amongst cherries and other fruit and berries, and the other scene exhibits pears, strawberries, pineapple along with other exotic fruits and corn - together becoming patriotic symbols of America, 'the land of plenty'.
All of the work is executed against a stippled background giving depth and highlighting the raised decoration. The rim is reinforced with simple applied bands.
Original glass inserts are exceptionally rare. This stunning glass insert, which fits beautifully into the bowl, is frosted then cut to clear glass above the rim. The diamond-shaped decoration of the glass is polished through the frosted surface to the clear glass in each of the diamonds to create a small circular windows.
Hairy animal legs with ball and claw terminals at the base rise upwards and join the bowl with bold acanthus leaf design. The base is a raised ring with stunning decoration. The flat, circular wall of the base is decorated with vermicelli engraving with a bottom ring of gadrooned decoration. The top of the base has a crimped edge and is engraved with repeating leaves and shells.
It is amazing to find this centerpiece with its original insert. When the glass is placed in the bowl, there is a gap between the bottom of the glass and the bottom of the silver bowl. This area could be used to hold ice in order to keep the contents in the glass chilled. (Homemade strawberry ice cream?)
This exceedingly rare centerpiece is marked underneath with the rare 'Civil War' Kirk mark, 'S. KIRK & SONS/ 11OZ', which was used only briefly from 1860-68. It measures 9.25 inches in diameter by 10 inches high (11 inches to the top of the glass). The silver weighs 45.90 troy. Both pieces are in excellent antique condition with a couple tiny flakes to the edge of the bowl.