Gorham 1868 "Cherub" Large Sterling Silver Coffee Pot
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Made by Gorham in 1868 according to the date letter stamped on the underside, along with lion, anchor, G, "Sterling," and the model number "500," and retailed by Chicago's "N. Matson & Co., this coffee pot is an outstanding representation of American silver production at a time of great expansionism for both the nation and the Gorham company.
It is a large item, standing 9" to the top of the finial, having a maximum span of 8 3/4", and weighing 26.8 T. oz. It holds a full 7 cups, i.e. 234 ounces, which is a capacious near half gallon.
The design is innovative and engaging. The body is a tapered cylinder that sits on a 4" diameter, rimmed base. Both the handle and the spout are lofty, straight, and angular in attitude. The spout has a flat pouring tip, while the upper portion of the handle is horizontal to the body. The handle has an anthemion detail at the lower end, as well as a second, enlarged, knob-like, anthemion combined with a helmet that forms a thumb rest at the top corner.
There is a hand chased, flower and ivy motif, 1" wide band at the top of the body. This has a finely stippled background. There are bell flowers engraved below this on the otherwise plain sidewalls of the main part of the pot. The literal crowning element of the piece is a cast cherub finial. The figure is highly articulated. He or she is kneeling, with legs draped with a cloth, and has small, moth-like wings, and a band of curly hair around the face. The detail is such that it even shows all ten fingers.
The condition is remarkably fine and there is no monogram or inscription, or removal of same. There are scant signs of wear. The body is free of dents or marring, showing only a couple of slight imprints in the otherwise perfectly smooth surface. There is a dimple on the thumb grip of the handle. This comes from repeated contact between the cherub on the lid and this spot when the lid is open. The cherub figure is free of nicks or defects. The two ivory insulators, while cracked, are otherwise intact. The finish has a fine patina. In short, the overall scale and imprint of this piece is strikingly appealing.