Tiffany & Co./ John C. Moore Antique Sterling Silver Spooner, New York City, 1856-69
Spooners in solid silver are quite rare objects. This lovely example by Tiffany & Company has a domed removable cover with a vine and cluster of grapes finial handle. A chased grapevine with leaves decorates the dome.
The body is also chased in this wonderful Rococo style with a horizontal row of grape leaves from which clusters of grapes hang. There is an engraved 'A.M.L.' monogram below the decoration. The pedestal base is chased like the cover and has an edge of twisting grapevines.
The top shoulder of the body has twelve applied holders from which to hang spoons.
Spooners are very rare and useful items. They were used for sugar or jam/ sweetened fruit and could be used when serving dessert or tea. Each person could take their spoon and dress their dessert, tea or coffee to their own liking.
Charles Tiffany hired John C. Moore and his son Edward C. Moore to work exclusively for Tiffany & Co. after they won wide acclaim at the 1851 'Crystal Palace' World's Fair in London for a solid gold tea service made in this rococo revival style and displayed by Ball, Black & Co., then the leading jewelers in New York City.(1)
'Spooners' are rare, but occasionally found in American silver and more commonly in silver plate during the second half of the 19th century. This is an early example of the form in American silver. While the marks on this piece are in use until 1869, it likely predates the Civil War.
The form is based on a very rare type of French 'sucrier', or sugar bowl, that also held spoons. These rare sucriers were part of high end French services created during the neoclassical period of the late 18th/ early 19th century.(2) Later, these became misidentified as confituriers (loosely translated as jam or sweetened fruit dishes)(3) indicating their function came to include the service of jam with spoons during dessert or tea. (For examples see: here and here.)
What we call the 'rococo revival' of the mid 19th century was commonly referred to at the time as 'The French Style'. It is delightful that Moore is creating an early American adaptation of a French form of silver in an American style of French inspiration.
This stunning serving container is marked underneath 'TIFFANY & CO./ 556/ QUALITY 925-1000/ M (gothic in oval for John C. Moore)/ 7396'. It measures 6.25 inches wide by 8.5 inches high, weighs 19.25 troy ounces and is in very good antique condition with a couple small and largely unnoticeable repairs to the base. Two of the spoon holder attachments appear well reattached.
John Loring, Magnificent Tiffany Silver, (New York: Abrams, 2001), p. 14.
Anne Dion-Tennenbaum, L'orfèvre de Napoléon: Martin-Guillaume Biennais, (Paris: Editions de la Réunion des musées nationaux, 2003), p. 40-41
Catherine Arminjon and Nicole Blondel, eds, Objects civils domestiques, (Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1984), p. 100.
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