Boxed Pair "Dome Top with Bird" Sterling Spoons
click for more pictures for item 1722f
In addition to being of exceptional design merit, this boxed pair of 6 7/16" long, 2.1 T. oz. combined, preserve (or possibly large sugar) spoons have an impressive manufacturing and retailing provenance. They remain in their original leather presentation box that is impressed with the name of the prestigious retailer, "Howard & Co., 619 Broadway, NY," on the blue satin interior. The lower portion on which the spoons rest is a matching blue velvet, while the exterior is leather. "Howard & Co." is stamped on the hexagonal shanks of each spoon, as well as the words "Sterling" and "Patented."
These latter marks, as well as the overall form with a dome top immediately suggest Philadelphia's George Sharp as the manufacturer. Private, unpublished research, however, points in another direction. This source notes, "During the period 1866-68, three patents were taken out by silver designer Alonzo Hebbard of NYC (nephew or brother of Henry). The 1st patent was assigned by the patentee to one Edward Corning, also of NYC. These three patented patterns [one of which matches this design] were always marked the same way: 'STERLING PATENTED.' I believe that they all were manufactured by the firm of Gale & Corning, a short-lived partnership between Wm. Gale & Edward Corning." The association with William Gale, the 1866 founding date for Howard & Co., the Gale and Corning partnership documented for the late 1860's, and the patent dates noted above all correspond and support this attribution.
The literal "crowning glory" of these spoons is the cast bird that sits atop the dome of each piece. Made in the same period as Gorham's renowned "Bird's Nest" pattern, this engaging detail is reflective of the tastes of the day, which tended toward naturalism. The bowls are scallop shaped and retain a goodly portion of their original gold washes. These are without monograms or removals.The condition is mint estate. Apart from the polishing loss of some of the gold, there are no signs of wear, and no damage. The box remains in remarkably fine condition, with only light scuffing on the leather. It retains functioning clasps, a secure hinge, and even a paper label on the underside with the codes letters "ina" over "aei" hand written on it.