Tiffany and Co Sterling and Other Metals Téte-à-Téte Set, NYC, NY, c. 1878
This stunning and rare "sake"-form (1) tea set is in exceptional condition. The beautiful shapes and applied mixed-metal decorations are exquisite. All of the bodies feature a hammered surface with the slightly domed tops of the pot and covered sugar bowl having a soft, matte finish. The creamer has a beautifully gilt interior and is externally decorated with a chased pond scene, chased grasses, mixed metal exotic flora, a mixed metal dragonfly, and the tiniest mokume butterfly.
An amazing sugar bowl is chased with various vines and has applied exotic fauna along with three butterflies: a tiny copper example, a larger one of copper, and an even larger one with a copper body and mokume wings. Hiding along the sidewall of the removable cover is a copper beetle. Finely inlaid silver wire designs enhance a copper seed pod-shaped handle. The side handles are inlaid with gold, decorative bands, and the underside of the cover and the interior are gilt.
The teapot alone is a special work of art. With its squat body, tall handle, and protruding spout, the decorations include inlaid copper and gold Asian art-inspired clouds, chased vines with gourds of copper and silver along with two examples executed in mokume. Also applied is a copper beetle, a tiny silver butterfly, and a wonderful, large silver butterfly with mokume wings. Another tiny silver butterfly is applied to the patinated copper bean-shaped handle of the removable cover.
Provenance: Christie's, Decorative arts From 1850 to the Present Day, London, July 18, 1985, lot 122. Private collection.
This rare set is marked Tiffany & C0/ 5046 MAKERS 159/ STERLING-SILVER/ -AND-/ OTHER-METALS/ 299.' The teapot measures 7.5 inches across the body and spout by 5.25 inches high. The set weighs a total of 36.15 troy ounces, has never been monogrammed, and is in excellent antique condition.
Christie's, Tiffany Innovations in American Design, December 10, 1998, lot 310, p.89. (For a Tiffany & Co. original design drawing of a similar teapot, see p. 88.)
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