Massive Engraved Polhamus Sterling Silver Fish Serving Fork
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Stamped "J*P" for mid 19th century New York City manufacturer John Polhamus, "Sterling," and with the retailer's name "Howard & Co.," this serving fork is a first order example of its genre.
It also illustrates the Victorian appreciation for refinement and penchant toward extravagant scale, especially as this sentiment showed itself in biggest center of commerce and arguably the most cosmopolitan American city of the age.
It measures 10 7/8" overall, with a five tine serving end that is nearly half of that at 5 1/4" long and 2 1/4" wide. Solid silver, it weighs a robust 4.4 T. oz.
The rounded handle has a tipt end on the backside and is finely engraved in a leaf and berry pattern on the front. This includes a reserve area that is engraved in a fancy "BM" period monogram.
The engraving is carried onto the blade where, like the handle, it is reaches to high art. The fine line etching includes two rosettes surrounded by trailing leaves and vines, all rising to a cluster of fruit set between the shoulders at the join with the handle. Apropos of the form, the heel has two fish-shaped piercings with engraved details that complete the imagery.
The condition is mint estate. There are no flaws whatsoever. The engraving remains crisp and sharply defined, free of any polishing wear. The tines are straight, even, and absent burrs, nicks, or bends. The finish is warm and even.