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Author Topic:   Tiffany pitcher
Raf Steel

Posts: 94
Registered: Jul 2005

iconnumber posted 09-14-2005 07:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Raf Steel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am curious to know if there is more information on this pitcher. I've included the marks on the bottom, but the piece is also signed with a 'charençon', a French import mark: could it be that the pitcher was retailed in a Paris Tiffany shop? Is it known who retailed Tiffany in Paris? From the Tiffany forum I gather that there is something like a Tiffany 'archive'. Do they keep a record of the monograms that were put on the pieces? (unfortunately, I didn't take a picture of the monogram)

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Ulysses Dietz
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Posts: 1265
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 09-14-2005 10:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Tiffany & Co. had a Paris retail outlet from the 1850s onward, managed by Gideon Reed. This pitcher, based on the mark with pattern number 4834 was designed in 1877-78. Is the mark on it the little ET mark (for etranger, or foreign); or is it the lovely weevil mark that was used on sterling imports?

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Ulysses Dietz
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Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 09-14-2005 10:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And, I forgot to add, Tiffany does not have a record of every sale, nor did they keep records of monograms, so there is no way to know the original owner of this piece. If the form number could be located in the work books in the Tiffany archives, they could suggest how many of these were made, but the archives are not generally interested in providing information to the public. It is a corporate archive, and their focus is corporate support.

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Raf Steel

Posts: 94
Registered: Jul 2005

iconnumber posted 09-14-2005 12:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Raf Steel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you for your very extensive reply, as always I might add. I don't quite know what a 'weevil' is; the mark is a kind of insect, used for foreign silver of an alloy of minimum 800/1000; I have to check on the piece itself in what outline it stands, to know the period (I will do this tomorrow). What do you mean with 'corporate support'? As in support to affiliated companies or in support to museums?

[This message has been edited by Raf Steel (edited 09-14-2005).]

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Ulysses Dietz
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Posts: 1265
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 09-14-2005 07:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The weevil is an insect, so that's the mark. So this piece would have been sold in the Paris store.

The Tiffany archives' main job is to support Tiffany & Co.'s marketing division. They are very helpful to museums, but the general public is charged a high fee for any research. It is a corporate collection, not a public research collection.

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Raf Steel

Posts: 94
Registered: Jul 2005

iconnumber posted 09-16-2005 01:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Raf Steel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ok, weevil it is! It stands in an oval outline, which means the piece was imported between 1864 and 1893, so the piece dates between 1878 and 1893. Thanks for the info regarding the archive, I will not bother to contact them.

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Ulysses Dietz
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Posts: 1265
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 09-17-2005 04:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One of my deepest darkest dreams is that Tiffany & Co. will decide they don't want the archive any more, and will give it to The Newark Museum. That will be the day after hell freezes over (so keep checking the weather).

If you are lucky enough to stumble upon a really important piece of Tiffany silver, it would be worth the cost to have the archives do research for you. But that would be the only instance. Bring your questions to the Silver Salon Forums first!

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Raf Steel

Posts: 94
Registered: Jul 2005

iconnumber posted 09-18-2005 05:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Raf Steel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think the archive problem is universal: or companies destroy the archives or the defend it against'intrusions' from (art)historians. I really don't know why, in my view it can only enhance the interest in and enthousiasm for a certain company, which, in the case that the company in question still survives, enhances their reputation!

[This message has been edited by Raf Steel (edited 09-18-2005).]

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Kimo

Posts: 1597
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 09-19-2005 02:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I believe the main reason why most companies guard or destroy their archives rather than release them to the public has to do with legal issues. Corporate archives could be a gold mine to corporate sharks/attorneys looking for material to build all kinds of cases (patents, copyrights, employee's work, taxes, liabilities, etc.) They could also be considered a valuable asset that a smart businessman would keep secret for future sales potential - even if the company went out of business. Some future company may want to buy some of the dead companies assets such as designs, copyrights, etc., or even restart the dead company to take advantage of the old company's name recognition value and it would not be to the owner's/stockholders' advantage to have that information made public property.

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Raf Steel

Posts: 94
Registered: Jul 2005

iconnumber posted 09-20-2005 03:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Raf Steel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This maybe true for big companies, and for important design and patent protection. However I am very doubtfull that a silversmith who takes over a company that stops, could do harm by repating designs (provided that they are marked with a different mark in case of no date letters). If they really don't want that to happen, they should as Mr. Dietz suggested, give (in loan or permanent) their design archives (drawings, photographs, etc.) to a museum or public archive. I stick to my guns: it will enhance their prestige, it will help research and at least it survives!

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Kimo

Posts: 1597
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 09-20-2005 09:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Don't get me wrong - if it were up to me I would love to see all kinds of corporate records donated to public museums or libraries and such. I am just giving some reasons why most companies don't do it.

One other reason I have heard why some companies are not keen to do it is that it is not easy to find a museum or library willing to accept and curate such a collection unless it is a very famous company. Taking responsibility for a collection requires an initial expenditure to build or allocate a secure, climate contolled storage space, and then an annual expenditure for cataloging, curating and providing information and access to people to use the material. For a private silversmith with a small one-man workshop this may be only a few boxes of materials, but for a silver company it can run into large amounts of material and some serious costs.

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