C. 1882 Documented Pair Of Gorham Mixed Metal Silver Copper Coffee Pots,tiffany For SaleWE ARECURRENTLYLISTING A HIGH QUALITY COLLECTION OF FINE CHINESE PEKING ART GLASS OF THE PERIOD AND OTHER ANTIQUES FROM OUR PERSONAL COLLECTION, PLEASE SEE OUR OTHER LISTINGS.
THIS COFFEE IS CURRENTLY IN THE COLLECTION OF BRITISH MUSEUM AND METROPOLITAN MUSEUM, SEE LINK GOOGLE BRITISH MUSEUM + GORHM COFFEE POTSIMILAR COFFE POT ALSO IN THE IMPORTANT: CHARLES H. CARPENTER JR. COLLECTION OF 19TH CENTURY AMERICAN SILVER, IN THE SALE AT CHRISTIE'S , NEW YORK, JAN 21, 1994
A PAIR OF SILVER MOUNTED PATINATED COPPER COFFEE POT, MAKER'S MARK OF GORHAM , C 1883. IN TURKISH TASTE, OF ELONGATED BALUSTER FORM, WITH PATINATED SURFACE AND DIE ROLLED SILVER MID BAND, RISING TO A SILVER REEDED BAND AT RIM, THE HANDLE WITH IVORY INSULATORS WITH HINGED BALL COVER WITH BALL FINIAL
THESE POTS WASACQUIRED OVER 20 YEARS AGO IN PARIS WITH OTHER MIXED METAL TIFFANY OBJECTS + AMERICAN SILVERS
THE DESCRIPTION BELOW IS BY BRITISH MUSEUM OF THE SAME COFFEE POT, INCLUDING MARK
Text from J. Rudoe, 'Decorative Arts 1850-1950. A catalogue of the British Museum collection'. 2nd ed. no.115.
Founded in the early nineteenth century by Jabez Gorham (1792-1869), the firm became the Gorham Manufacturing Company in 1863. On Gorham's retirement in 1848 his son John (1820-98) took over the running of the firm and became the driving force behind its development in the 1850s and 1860s, when he visited England, where he recruited craftsmen and began to assemble a reference library on historical and Far Eastern ornament. After John Gorham's bankruptcy in 1878 the firm was managed by William Crins, a Providence businessman, until 1894. Many of the company's designers, as well as its craftsmen, were English: George Wilkinson, the company's chief designer from 1860 to 1891, came from Birmingham in 1854; Thomas J. Pairpoint joined Gorham from the London firm of Lambert & Rawlings from 1868 to 1877, during which time he was responsible for Renaissance and classical-style designs; A.J. Barratt of Hunt & Roskell also joined Gorham in the late 1860s. However, it is rarely possible to attribute specific designs to any of these artists (New York, 1986, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 'In Pursuit of Beauty, Americans and the Aesthetic Movement', 433).
Gorham's copper line was introduced in 1881 and was produced for a few years only, until about 1885. Production was small owing to the amount of hand labour involved. The taste for coloured metals in the Japanese manner was developed to a far greater extent in America than in Europe, and became almost a hallmark of American metalwork of the Aesthetic Movement. The coloured metals were either inlaid and applied (see Tiffany & Co., 'Decorative Arts 1850-1950', Cat. 283) or patinated, as in this instance. The patinated wares, with their rich red tones, are probably inspired by Japanese lacquered wood rather than metalwares. The tall coffee-pot with its graceful spout was a favourite Gorham form, based on contemporary Turkish or Persian models. It was also made in plain copper, without the silver appliques, and in solid silver. The Jewelers' Circular and Horological Review for January 1882 printed a lengthy description of the new copper wares, including 'a pot for black after-dinner coffee of silver in purest Persian shape' (quoted in Carpenter, C.H. Jr., 'Gorham Silver 1831-1981', New York 1982, 113). The American metalwork shown at the Exposition des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1884 included a teapot 'en cuivre auquel on donne par un oxyde une patine rouge vernie tres etrange' (La Revue des Arts Decoratifs 4, 1884, 117). The makers are not specified, but it is likely that this refers to a Gorham piece.
According to Carpenter the processes used to obtain the coloured surfaces are not known, but there were a number of standard procedures, such as heating the copper to produce a thin film of red-to-brown copper oxide or cuprite (Cu20). The surface was then polished, and waxed or lacquered for protection. A similar process was described in a manual on the chemical colouring of metals published in England in 1925 ; the colour had the trade name 'Royal Copper'. After the heat treatment to produce the film of cuprite, the article was polished with soft felt and a paste of rouge powder and methylated spirits, to achieve an 'excellent enamel lustre surface' (Field, S. & Bonney, S.R., 'The Chemical Colouring of Metals', London 1925, 150). With heat treatment alone it was difficult to obtain an even colour over the whole article. As an alternative a number of colouring solutions were used, in conjunction with heat treatment. Most of the standard recipes were for shades of brown; recipes for red copper include immersion in a hot solution of copper sulphate and sodium chloride (Field & Bonney, 149-50), or of ammonium sulphide (Herbert Maryon, 'Metalwork and Enamelling', London 1954, 261), or immersion in molten sodium nitrate for five minutes to ensure an even red oxide film (Fishlock, D., ''Metal Colouring', Teddington 1962, 196). The colour tones could be varied by varying the length of time or temperature of the treatment.
Surface analysis by X-ray fluorescence of the British Museum coffee-pot (by Susan La Niece of the British Museum Research Laboratory) has detected only copper with a trace of iron. However, the red patina is almost certainly cuprite, by analogy with that of the candlesticks (see 'Decorative Arts 1850-1950', Cat. 116), where it was possible to take a small sample. It is thus likely that the colour was achieved by heat treatment alone as described above, but no evidence for the patination process was found, on either the coffee-pot or the candlesticks.
A version of this coffee-pot is currently on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and corresponds more closely to the description in the Jewelers' Circular. For other patinated copper pieces by Gorham, see Carpenter 1982 and Christie's, New York, 19-20 January 1990, lots 58-9, a lamp and a tea-caddy. Similar patinated copper wares were also made by Tiffany & Co.: for a red-coloured chocolate pot with silver appliques, see New York 1986, 267, fig. 8.13 and 264, fig. 8.14. For further discussion of American metalwork of the Aesthetic Movement, see New York 1986.
It is interesting to note that Japanese-style red-coloured wares in silver-gilt and red lacquer were made from c.1880 to 1917 by the Moscow firm of Ovchinnikov (see Solodkoff, A. von, 'Russian Silver', Fribourg 1981, pl. 75 ; Sotheby's, New York, 15-17 November 1988, lot 38 and 15 December 1988, lot 347). See also Ovchinnikov, 'Decorative Arts catalogue 1850-1950', Cat. 230.
VERY FINE IMPORTANT EXAMPLE OF 19TH CENTURY AMERICAN SILVERSMITH WORKMANSHIP, MUSEUM QUALITY AND RARE TO FIND MATCHED PAIR, AT 32.5 CM TALL, SEE PHOTO
EXCELLENT CONDITION, JUST NORMAL WEAR AND TEAR FOR THE AGE, SOME MINOR LOSS TOO SURFACE SEE PHOTO, CONSISTENT WITH AGE, PLEASE USE PHOTOS AS PART OF DESCRIPTION, SOLD AS IS.
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