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Wood & Hughes 'Japanese' Pattern Aesthetic Movement Antique Sterling Silver Covered Soup Tureen, New York City, early 1870's

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Holloware with Japanese inspired decoration is very rare. This tureen was made about 1870 by the important firm of Wood & Hughes.

The circular base is a stepped, pedestal design with the central low column being adorned with a decorative band.

The same banding is used around the upper edge of the bowl and consists of exotic foliage including sprigs of flowers, leaves and lily-of-the valley amongst Japonesque birds and butterflies in flight against a stippled background.

The handles are stunning. Flat wires with fine beading to the edges are twisted to create a lovely aesthetic scrolling design. The gracefully curved handles are attached to the sides of the bowl and are strengthened by scroll attachments.

The domed cover is decorated with a central, circular flute and is surmounted with an unusual finial. The pagoda-inspired finial is very unique with a small column and demi-sphere with a beaded edge on top. The sides of the structure are decorated in the same fashion as the handles with twisted, beaded wire forming a foliate design.

This is a very elegant tureen with a plain, lovely reflective surface. It accentuates the unusual and beautiful decorative elements.

Wood & Hughes's 'Japanese' pattern was inspired by and closely resembles Tiffany's "Japanese' pattern (design patented April 18, 1871).

According to private scholar D. Albert Soeffing, the resemblance was so close that Tiffany & Co. sued Wood & Hughes for patent infringement on November 11, 1874. Within a month, Wood & Hughes pleaded guilty and their settlement with Tiffany included an injunction against the manufacture of this pattern. (D. Albert Soeffing, 'The Battle of the Birds: Japanese Patterns of the 1870's' in Silver Magazine, May/June 1995, pp. 18-23.)

This rare soup tureen could only have been made from 1871-74.

Marked underneath 'W&H/ STERLING/ 27', this antique tureen measures 10 inches in circumference and 15 inches wide across the handles. It measures 11.5 inches high, weighs 59.30 troy ounces and is in excellent antique condition.