Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Youth Set, NYC, c. 1905
It is easy to understand why Tiffany & Co were so great when you come across flatware as amazing as this youth set. The interpretation of three popular nursery rhymes depicted on a set is quite apropos, not to mention great marketing. The level of detail to both the front and backs of the handles is stunning. The knife depicts Little Red Riding Hood carrying her basket with a wolf gazing upwards with his tongue hanging out. The fork has Little Bo Peep holding a herding staff with one arm while the other arm is perched above her eyes as she looks for her lost sheep. The spoon shows Jack & Jill, with Jill clutching her bonnet as Jack falls downward along with the bucket spilling water.
An identical set is in the collection of The New York Historical Society and pictured in Tiffany Silver by Carpenter (p.107). Each piece is engraved on the front ‘Hugh J. Grant Jr.’ who was born in 1904 and most likely received this set as a birth or christening gift.
Hugh J. Grant, Sr. (1858-1910) was the first Irish-American mayor of New York City, serving form 1889-1892. At the age of 31, he was also the youngest mayor in that city’s history. Grant married Julia M. Murphy (1872-1944), the daughter of New York Senator Edward Murphy, Jr. (1836-1911), in 1895.
A successful real estate investor, Grant lived with his family in their 10,960 square foot mansion at 20 East 72nd Street that was designed by the architectural firm of Rose and Stone. They purchased many of the finest decorative arts then available including an exceptional Gorham Martelé ewer and basin, now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Grants were important philanthropists and major donors to the Catholic Church, providingRed Riding Hood the funds to establish Regis High School (a Jesuit school for the poor and gifted in New York. The Grants fully funded the school until the 1960’s. Hugh J. Grant, Jr. gifted the 72nd Street mansion to the Archdiocese of New York. It is currently the residence of the Vatican’s ambassador to the United Nations and serves as the Pope’s residence when visiting New York City.
The fork and spoon are marked ‘TIFFANY & CO STERLING’ and the knife is marked ‘TIFFANY & CO MAKERS STERLING C’. The ‘C’ mark was used from 1902-1907. The knife, fork and spoon measure 7.5, 6.75 and 6.25 respectively. They have a combined weight of 5.55 troy ounces and are in excellent condition.
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