Gorham "Old Masters" Sterling Master Butter Knife
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Dating from 1885, Gorham's "Old Masters" scarcely has any parallels in the realm of American sterling silver flatware.
Each piece in the line, with some duplication, features a different, renowned figure from the realm of the classical arts. The handles are cast and individually designed with all aspects of the shank complimentary of the bust of whatever figure surmounts the end of that handle.
The figure in the instance of this 7 3/4" long, exceptional weight 2.2 T. oz., master butter knife is "Van Dyck." The line customarily identifies the subject on the backside, and that is indeed the case with this. The nature of the portraiture and other detailing is sculptural. It is fully three dimensional and intricately wrought. There are two cherubic figures represented on the pedimented shank. One is a full body with upraised arms that suggest she ("she" is androgynous) is holding up the rest of the structure. Above this is a full face bust with long, flowing hair. The backside incorporates leaf and bellflower elements, and displays Van Dyck's mane and draped shoulders.
The blade has a chiseled quality, with a scalloped top edge and a notched lower edge, as well as a script "EM" monogram on the backside. It is relatively thick, and perfectly smooth, evidencing extra finishing effort. As with everything else about the piece, this bespeaks connoisseurship.
It is in perfect condition showing no signs of wear or use. Marks are the Gorham lion, anchor, G, and "Sterling," appearing on the backside of the blade.