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Tiffany & Co - The John Philip Sousa Sterling Silver 'Renaissance' Pattern Flatware service for 8, 92 pieces, early 20th century

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This rare and lovely pattern displays some of Tiffany's finest turn of the century work. It is superbly cast in the Italian renaissance style featuring a sculptural half-length naked female herme. She is partially covered by drapes and surmounts a pilaster decorated with a shell and surrounded by flowers. Winged caryatids are on each side of her.

Renaissance is a multi-motif pattern, meaning that the decoration on some pieces varies somewhat. The oyster forks have seaweed, fish and shells instead of flowers by the pilaster. The knives have ram's heads on the side.

Paulding Farnham, Tiffany's master jewelry and silver designer at the turn of the century, designed this pattern in 1904. Although he designed other patterns, this is his best known and most coveted pattern. It is a tour-de-force of high relief casting and displays his mastery of historical design.

Interestingly, Louis Comfort Tiffany (who became vice president at Tiffany's after the death of his father in 1902) and Paulding Farnham disagreed about some of Farnham's designs. L. C. Tiffany didn't like the historical accuracy of Farnham's nude female figure, who subsequently gained drapes. (See Janet Zapata's article, "The rediscovery of Paulding Farnham, Tiffany's designer extraordinaire - Part II: Silver," in the Magazine Antiques, April 1991.)

This service comprises:

8 Dinner Forks
8 Dinner Knives
8 Luncheon Forks
8 Luncheon Knives
8 Salad Forks
8 Round Cream Soup Spoons
8 Dessert (oval soup) Spoons
7 Oyster Forks
8 Butter Knives
12 Teaspoons

1 Hollow-handled Cake/Pie server
1 Salad or Vegetable Serving Set
(Fork and Spoon)
1 Pierced Cold Meat Serving Fork
3 Serving Spoons
1 Pair Sugar Tongs
1 Strawberry Fork (which, according to family tradition, is a lemon serving fork).

Condition: Very good/ excellent. The stainless steel blades are replacement blades by Tiffany in the correct size and style. Most pieces are monogrammed 'JSP' in a block style.

Provenance: by descent in the family from John Philip Sousa. (His daughter filled in a few pieces, which are unmonogrammed.)

John Philip Sousa, known as The March King, was one of the world's greatest band leaders and composers of march music. First as leader of the 'The President's Own' Marine Corps Band and later as leader of the John Philip Sousa Band, Sousa brought great creativity and technical virtuosity to the field.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Sousa composed 136 marches, 11 operettas, at least 70 songs, 11 waltzes, 12 other dance pieces, 11 suites, 14 humoresques, and 27 fantasies. He is most famous for composing "Semper Fidelis" (the official march of the U.S. Marine Corps), "The Washington Post", "The Liberty Bell" and "The Stars and Stripes Forever" - the official march of the United States of America.