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Author Topic:   New York Silver Society Annual Dinner, January 19, 2001

Posts: 1507
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 01-25-2001 10:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
On this rainy January day, gold seemed to edge out silver all the way around. Perhaps taking a cue from the Christie's auction, where the John Jay freedom box was hammered down for $660,000 (see auction review in the Shows, Auctions and Shops Forum), the three "Show and Tell" winners at the dinner included two pieces of gold and one piece of silver gilt. It was just a golden day, I guess. More on this later.

At any rate, the dinner was, as always, immensely enjoyable. As one of the other attendees put it, it is one of the few places where silverphiles can gather in a non-competitive atmosphere (except for the "Show and Tell" contest!). The top collectors and dealers also bring their favorite things to show, many of which are one of a kind. The result is some good food, good times and some amazing objects.

Let me try to give you my impressions. The evening kicked off with a well-attended lecture by our own Bill Hood, moderator of the Tiffany Forum and self described "flatware freak". His lecture took us through a typical upper-class late Victorian dinner, piece by wonderful piece of Tiffany flatware. Dr. Hood used his knowledge of dining custom and flatware to weave a fascinating story out of the simple act of eating. He introduced each course by describing the circumstances surrounding each type of food, then illustrated the pieces used to serve and eat it. For example, he described the origin of "Saratoga Chips", then showed pictures of the flatware used to serve them. Most of the illustrations were drawn from Dr. Hood's recent book, although there were a few recent discoveries thrown in. These included two new types of individual asparagus tongs, some rare lettuce forks, and a bizarre horseradish spoon with two projecting prongs on the side like a cheese knife. We still don't know what that was for!

Overall, it was a very fine lecture. It was interesting, succinct, and it came in right on schedule, which was good for those of us in need of a stiff drink!

The cocktail hour which followed the lecture was entertaining, as always. It is a chance to greet old acquaintances and make new ones, which you can't help but do. In a room full of silver people, you have something in common with everyone. I spent some time with John Gallagher, who showed me a wonderful Indo-Pakistani engraved beaker than he had brought. I also spoke with Laura Verlaque of Christie's, and showed off the new digital camera to a few others.

The dinner was fine, as always. I can honestly say that the food is always an afterthought at these affairs; the pieces of silver are far more fascinating. Here are few things I saw that did not win any prizes:

  1. Two wonderful serving forks by Gorham, property of Dr. Hood. One was in the rare Narragansett pattern, which is basically a mass of seashells and other sea life. This piece was even more interesting than usual, as it featured a sea worm which extended down from the handle and wrapped around the center tine of the fork. The other was more simple, with an impressed crab design and a repeat performance by the sea worm.

  2. A cheese scoop in the almost legendary "Bug" pattern by Durgin. This pattern, on first glance, looks like a cobblestone street. On closer inspection, you can see that each "stone" is actually a little beetle or other insect, no two of which are alike. The cartouche usually found on ornate silver patterns to allow a monogram is actually the back of another large beetle. Amazing! Unfortunately, your tipsy reporter neglected to get a picture. Idiot!

  3. The Paulding Farnham demitasse service, purchased earlier in the day at Christie's.

  4. A snake form pen rest, by Shiebler.

  5. A fabulous loving cup, which I missed inspecting up close.
Anyway, that's what I saw, that I remember! I'm sure there were other great items that I didn't see, but that's the way it goes.[/list]

Now, back to the Show and Tell competition. This year, it was decided to select three winners: a piece of holloware, a piece of flatware, and a most unusual object. Each table nominated one piece in each category, and the panel of judges (Don Soeffing, Mike Weller of Argentum-The Leopard's Head, and John Gallagher) picked the winners. And the winners are:

  1. Holloware: A fabulous English silver-gilt cream boat, featuring repousse chasing, three dolphin-form feet, and a snake handle. It was made by Thomas Whipham & William Williams, London, 1740. The pictures I took do not do it justice; this piece was a prize in every sense of the word.

  2. Flatware: This one was no contest. Stanley Szaro of Lauren Stanley brought in the most wonderful 14K Gold champagne ladle, attributed to the Joseph Seymour Co. of Syracuse. It features fabulous engraving, and the bowl is covered with tiny "bubbles", hence the decision that this was a champagne ladle, probably commissioned for a special anniversary. Stanley was so proud of it (and rightly so) that he had it hanging from a cord around his neck, like a tie. It was certainly a one of a kind piece, and a true treasure.

  3. Unusual Item: This prize went to noted collector Ruth Nutt, who brought a rare American gold medal, presented in 1828 in Hoboken, NJ, for the finest July 4th speech on liberty (I think) I was unable to get pictures of this piece, but it was roughly 3 inches across and featured a wonderful engraving of an eagle and shield, much in the Federal style, on the front, with the presentation wording on the reverse. A remarkable thing!
To sum it all up, a good time was had by all. Attendance was a bit down, due to conflicts with the Florida shows and the ongoing Americana week activities. Hopefully schedules will work out better next year. Still, it was fun. If you have never attended, and ever have the opportunity, do it! You will not regret it![/list]

Check back here later for some pictures of the event and the prize winners!

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Scott Martin
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Posts: 11520
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 01-26-2001 12:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am sorry that we were out of town; it sounds like it may have been one of the best dinners yet. It would be fun to have a similar silverphile show and tell dinner when the weather is warmer (spring). Does anyone else think this is an interesting idea or have some similar/different ideas.

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Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 01-27-2001 10:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A few pictures of the affair, assembled by Scott:

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