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Author Topic:   Bailey & Co. sterling mark
Ulysses Dietz
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iconnumber posted 02-15-2009 08:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This coffee pot is a curator's dream, but I'm posting it here in the sterling forum.

The marks are crisp and clean, and consist of an S in an oval touch, with two different lion touchmarks, and a shield. These are the marks that Bailey & Kitchen developed to denote STERLING starting in 1855, when George Sharp was running their silver shop. Here is the mark:

The silver world is so excited about Japanism in silver--but this example demonstrates the strong "chinoiserie" interests, which parallel the huge popularity of "Rose Medallion" porcelain in the same period in America. The repousse chasing is brilliant. Kirk in Baltimore also did this kind of thing--but it seems to be a Philadelphia/Baltimore phenomenon (and so was Rose Medallion, come to think of it).

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ellabee

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iconnumber posted 02-15-2009 10:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ellabee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is eerie timing. I was just going to post a question about Philadelphia 'chinoiserie' based on some hours spent looking for and at images of R. & W. Wilson and Peter Krider tea sets.

Like the Bailey/Sharp example here, they have cast Chinese figures as finials. Some have no indication of the the silver content, and would be assumed to be coin. One or two are marked 'standard', so are definitely coin.

But then there's a Wilson set almost identical to a presumed coin set of theirs, yet the auction house listing says "Marked 'Sterling' on body of each piece." That made me wonder if R.&W. Wilson, which competed directly with Bailey & Co. at the top of the market, was pushed into using .925 silver earlier than most because of the pressure. My other theory was that the 'sterling' marks were added later, and might or might not be accurate.

I have saved images of the sets, but can't post them, as none of the images are mine. And, though all are auctions that are done with, in some cases a decade ago, I'm assuming I couldn't post links, either?

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Dale

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iconnumber posted 02-16-2009 12:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As long as the pictures are not of items currently for sale, you can post them. You can post other people's images. The one caveat is that it must be after the auction has ended. Please post them.

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ellabee

Posts: 306
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iconnumber posted 02-16-2009 03:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ellabee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Okay, then.

First up, a Robert & William Wilson coin silver chinoiserie coffee pot that is part of Replacements' museum collection. Like the soon-to-be-the-Newark-Museum's Bailey pot, it has Chinese scenes including people, and a cast finial of a Chinese figure. The accompanying sugar bowl and lidded creamer (latter not pictured here) have different repousse and chased scenes and different Chinese figural finials.


Ulysses is certainly a better judge than I am of the period to which this design belongs. It is worth saying, though, that the firm used the 'R&W Wilson' mark well beyond the death of Robert Wilson in 1846.

I love the jauntiness of the finial fellows, and am looking forward to getting a better look at the Bailey finial.

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ellabee

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iconnumber posted 02-16-2009 04:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ellabee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
These next two sets are 'chinoiserie' only by virtue of their finials, and are virtually identical except for the type of milled band and repousse decoration used.

The dealer selling the first set placed it around 1840, restricting the range to the actual working dates for R&W Wilson (1825-46). Like many (most?) Wilson pieces, it's not marked for silver content, and is assumed to be coin.

The coffee pot of the first set by itself shows the similarities with the next set most clearly.

The lot description for the second set, which was auctioned only two years ago: "a teapot with hinged cover, a coffee pot with hinged cover, a milk jug, a sugar bowl, and a waste bowl; all marked 'Sterling' on body." (Only the two pots are shown here.)

Does it seem odd that the sterling marks are on the body of the pieces? On the R&W work I've seen, when the silver content is indicated (usually with 'standard'), it was found in the same location as the maker's mark.

Assuming the sterling marks were accurate, the question arose: doesn't this place two very similar designs rather far apart in years?

But I'd forgotten that Bailey & Co. were distinguishing themselves by making sterling as early as 1852. The Bailey coffeepot makes it completely plausible that the first (coin) set shown was from 1843-6, while the sterling one could have been as early as 1853-4 (assuming the Wilson firm responded to the competition fairly early on).

On the other hand, both the Wilson and Bailey firms continued to make some coin into the 1850s and 1860s. Does the style of these sets put them in the 1840s/50s, or is it possible they are 1860s items? When did chinoiserie go out of fashion?



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ellabee

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iconnumber posted 02-16-2009 08:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ellabee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Finally, a Peter L. Krider coin tea set which the auction house dated c.1860.

The lot notes say: "The design for this tea and coffee service is based on a Charles T. Grosjean model that was designed by Grosjean & Woodward for Tiffany, Young & Ellis, circa 1853 and illustrated in John Loring's Magnificent Tiffany Silver, page 138."

Does anyone have the Loring book? How closely does this duplicate the Grosjean pieces? Does the original have Chinese finials? If not, then they look even more like a provincial Philadelphia fad. Or phad.

This set, like a lot of Krider's work, was retailed through J.E. Caldwell. During the 1850s, he was just starting out, not one of the city's big makers, and did not produce sterling-marked work until during the 1860s partnership of Krider & Biddle.

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Ulysses Dietz
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iconnumber posted 02-16-2009 02:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is all GREAT! The Chinoiserie motif was very much part of the rococo revival, and while the rest of the repousse world carried on well past the Civil War (and into the 20th century, in the case of Kirk and Stieff), my guess is that the Chinoiserie things really must have stopped by the 1860s, when tastes shifted to the new neo-grec. However, my caveat here is that the direct ceramic equivalent of this chinoiserie silver is the Rose Medallion porcelain imported from China by the boatload from the 1840s through the 1860s. How do I know?

This plate is part of a service ordered by Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant for her war-hero hubby in 1868--and taken to the White House in 1869. If this porcelain was still hot, then why not the silver, too? Bailey & Co.'s mark is from no earlier that 1855, and could be as late as 1866-67 (Rainwater).

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ellabee

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iconnumber posted 02-16-2009 11:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ellabee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What a treat. Thanks, Ulysses.

I now relize that I've seen tea sets that are even more evocative of the Rose Medallion china because they have distinct panels alternating figures and nature motifs. I think they were New York makers. Off to find some images...

Update noon 17 Feb - There's an online auction example right now of four-paneled "chinoiserie", a coin teapot by Charters, Cann & Dunn. The paneling is very evocative of rose medallion china, and there's an Oriental motif on the upper body that ends in a realistic cast applied tassel, but the rest of the decoration is pure rococo.

[This message has been edited by ellabee (edited 02-17-2009).]

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ellabee

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iconnumber posted 02-17-2009 10:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ellabee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In the course of looking, I've found an R&W Wilson tea set very, very like the Krider set above. It's for sale now, at the site of a well-known southern silver dealer, so I'm not going to put up an image.

The difference is in the body shape (raised baluster rather than squat) and the repousse decoration on the lower part of the pieces is foliage and berries rather than Chinese scenes. Also, all the pieces have lids, which I suspect was the case with the Krider service when it was new. The finials, lid, handles, and upper body are exactly the same as the Krider set.

Anyone have the Loring Tiffany book? I'd be interested in hearing of any differences between the Krider and Grosjean sets.

If it's true that this Wilson set was also based on the Grosjean pieces, then it dates from at least 1854 -- more confirmation of the already abundant evidence that the R&W Wilson mark was used beyond 1846.

[This message has been edited by ellabee (edited 02-17-2009).]

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Ulysses Dietz
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iconnumber posted 03-06-2009 02:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Some more images, hot off the digital camera: The Chinaman finial (who, our Asian curator says, seems to be partly Turkish)

And one view of the landscape--somehow country village made to look vaguely oriental.

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jersey

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iconnumber posted 03-06-2009 05:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jersey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ellabee!

From the book Magnificent Tiffany Silver by John Loring pg 138 there is a picture of 1 teapot only. It does have a figure bending on knees over what looks like a ball. The note under the picture states: I quote:

"Teapot with repousee-chased Chinese figures, buildings & trees; it's style reflects the mid-nineteenth century revival of eighteenth-century chinoiserie. Part of the earliest known Tiffany's tea set, it was made circa 1853 by Grosjean & Woodward for Tiffany Young & Ellis, the predecessor of Tiffany & Co. The tea set bears a resemblance to the chinoiserie of eighteenth-century German porcelain, and it may have been designed by Gustave Herter who later became America's leading furniture designer. (Herter emigrated from Germany to New York in 1848 and was said to have worked for Tiffany's, but none of his Tiffany designs is documented.)
The forms of this tea set were popular models. Grosjean & Woodward made many similar tea sets for Tiffany's and for other American retailers, but only one other extant example has similar chinoiserie motifs. Tea sets of closely related design were made by at least two other manufacturers: Jones, Ball & Co. in Boston& the Gorham Co. in Providence. Gorham displayed a very similar tea set at the 1851 Rhode Island State Fair."

Hope this helps.

Jersey

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ellabee

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iconnumber posted 03-10-2009 10:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ellabee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, Jersey.

The reference to German porcelain sent me off to read more about the whole phenomenon of European chinoiserie in different materials. The first wave was in the late 1600s, and some of the earliest examples in silver are from that period -- punch bowls/monteiths with engraved oriental motifs.

The next wave coincided with the original rococo style in France, diffusing throughout Europe. Once succeeded by the classical revival, it never really came back into fashion in France.

But in Britain, thanks in large part to the patronage of the Prince Regent, there was a chinoiserie revival in the 1820s (the Brighton Pavilion, recently restored, is one result). I can't help but think that it was this phase that influenced the chinoiserie and rococo revival in American silver in the 1840s-1850s.

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ellabee

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iconnumber posted 03-10-2009 12:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ellabee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Chinoiserie on flatware:

These butter knives co-ordinate nicely with Rose Medallion china. The wide, flat rococo-esque bands separate the decorative panels, which include engine turning as well as engraved 'oriental' scenes. They're both coin silver, and the handles (not shown) are patterns from the 1850s.

Having seen these, I expect there must be very similar forms of decorated blades on pastry servers and fish slices of the period.

Given the period in which these motifs were popular, a discussion of chinoiserie might be even more appropriate to the 'American silver before sterling' forum -- but I'm pretty sure wev is happier to have it over here, far from his beloved plain fiddles.

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ellabee

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iconnumber posted 03-10-2009 01:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ellabee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My personal reaction to several of the tea sets above was a kind of horror, which has only grown since I've seen and read more.

Chinoiserie motifs are completely within the spirit of rococo. For that reason they're much more successful on shapes that depart completely from the classical, such as the piece that Ulysses showed to start the thread or the widely imitated Grosjean design.

The effect in combination with neo-grec shapes and motifs is not particularly pleasing. In the first R&W Wilson pieces above, it's downright awful; the playful Chinese finial and scenery is at war with the handles and the classical shape.

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