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H861

Tiffany and Co Antique Sterling Silver and Mixed Metals Pitcher, NYC, c. 1879

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This rare pitcher is an exquisite masterpiece. Imagination, design, and execution combine to make this a work of art.

Covering the globular body and cylindrical neck, bold pomegranate, and insect decoration combine etching, engraving, chasing, applying, onlay, and inlay techniques all set on a matte hammered surface.

The pomegranates are applied silver with deeply patinated copper husks and rich gold seeds. Applied fruit and leaves grow three-dimensionally from engraved branches, giving depth - both real and perceived - to the design.

Gold and copper pomegranate flowers are inlaid into the surface.  Applied insects of various metals include a boldly modeled cicada (1), fly and beetle. An engraved dragonfly is perched on a branch. Two butterflies with beautiful mokume wings adorn the neck.

Tiffany & Co. started using pomegranate decoration in 1879. Edward C. Moore was inspired by carving he saw at Herter Brothers shop (2), and pomegranate would become a favored band decoration of the 1880s. This pitcher is one of their first works bearing this fruit.

Made just after their stunning success at the 1878 Paris World's Fair, this pitcher shows Tiffany & Co. at their creative best. With a focus on original and unique designs deriving from nature, they show in this piece their mastery of color, patination, and design.

This magnificent pitcher is marked underneath 'TIFFANY & Co/ 5066 MAKERS 634/STERLING-SILVER/ AND/ OTHER METALS/730'. It measures 8 inches across the spout and handle by 8.25 inches to the top of the handle, weighs 37.15 troy ounces, and is in excellent antique condition. 

Provenance:
Susanin's, March 11, 2001, lot 7026
Private Collection

Endnotes:

  1. A cycle of 17-year cicadas occurred in New York State during the summer of 1877.
  2. Charles T. Grosjean, Diaries, Gorham Mfg. Co. Archives, John Hay Library, Brown University.