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Author Topic:   Parcel gilded ice cream set
Polly

Posts: 1939
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 11-19-2015 02:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just showing off my recent find, a parcel gilt ice cream set with a serving spoon and a dozen ice cream spoons, bright cut and gilded with morning glories in two different colors! of gold:

Close-up of the server bowl:

Close-up of the bowl of one of the spoons, in washed out lighting that makes the difference in the colors of gold a bit more obvious:

[This message has been edited by Polly (edited 11-19-2015).]

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Polly

Posts: 1939
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 11-19-2015 02:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Handles:

Backs, shiny and plain silver, marked only STERLING:

Richard, who saw these in person, thinks they're from the late 1870s (what he actually said was, "oh, that looks like 1878!"), based on the spade-shaped spoon bowls and style of the engraving. He guessed they might be by Whiting, Dominick & Haff, or possibly Gorham.

[This message has been edited by Polly (edited 11-19-2015).]

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11377
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 11-19-2015 02:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Richard's speculation seems probable.

Thanks for sharing.

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asheland

Posts: 925
Registered: Nov 2003

iconnumber posted 11-20-2015 09:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Superb stuff! You can never have too much of this type of silver! biggrin

Have you ever seen the catalogue for the Sam Wagstaff sale? It's full of this type of silver! I would recommend finding a copy for your library. It's great!

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Polly

Posts: 1939
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 11-20-2015 09:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I haven't, asheland--I'll go look for it. Thanks for the tip!

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asheland

Posts: 925
Registered: Nov 2003

iconnumber posted 11-20-2015 10:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
smile You're welcome! Let me know if you get a copy and what you think of it...

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ellabee

Posts: 306
Registered: Dec 2007

iconnumber posted 11-21-2015 06:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ellabee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have the Wagstaff catalog.

There are some similar pieces (and not everything is illustrated, especially serving pieces clumped into little lots), but what jumps out is that parcel gilt itself appears to be an 1870s thing, at least in the Wagstaff collection. In the 1880s mixed metal was the hot new style.

The spoon shape says Egyptian revival, and the handle shape and pattern say 'Japaneseque' (that angled band of geometric pattern across a floral backbround). The odds are on Gorham, as the company that seems to have committed itself earliest to a truly mad diversity of offerings, all of pretty high quality.

Edited to add: Stunners, Polly! Thanks so much for sharing your finds.

[This message has been edited by ellabee (edited 11-21-2015).]

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seaduck

Posts: 341
Registered: Dec 2006

iconnumber posted 11-22-2015 02:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for seaduck     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wow, great find! Really lovely.

So here's a dumb question: where did the term "parcel" gilt come from?

(Suffering from partial guilt for my ignorance.......)

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ahwt

Posts: 2173
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 11-22-2015 05:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It just means part is gilded.
quote:

Gilding

Gilded frame ready for burnishing with agate stone tool
File:Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Layer for Layer.ogvPlay media
Application of gold leaf to a reproduction of a 15th-century panel painting

The term gilding covers a number of decorative techniques for applying fine gold leaf or powder to solid surfaces such as wood, stone, or metal to give a thin coating of gold. A gilded object is described as "gilt". Where metal is gilded, it was traditionally silver in the West, to make silver-gilt (or vermeil) objects, but gilt-bronze is commonly used in China, and also called ormolu if it is Western. Methods of gilding include hand application and glueing, chemical gilding, and electroplating, the last also called gold plating.[1] Parcel-gilt (partial gilt) objects are only gilded over part of their surfaces. This may mean that all of the inside, and none of the outside, of a chalice or similar vessel is gilded, or that patterns or images are made up by using a combination of gilt and un-gilt areas. ....


Gilded frame ready for burnishing with agate stone tool


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Polly

Posts: 1939
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 11-22-2015 05:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you for that very informative post, ellabee!!

seaduck (and ahwt), I too always wonder why "parcel gilt" rather than "partial gilt."

I would love to know more about the process, too. That wikipedia link of awht's describes various gilding processes, but I don't know which would have been used for these spoons. Fire gilding, maybe? Does anyone do this kind of work anymore? (Parcel gilding, I mean, not fire gilding, which uses mercury very dangerously, so I don't imagine anyone does it nowadays.)

[This message has been edited by Polly (edited 11-22-2015).]

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ahwt

Posts: 2173
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 11-22-2015 09:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think we need one of our silversmiths to explain the process used today. Mercury is still used in some industries today and there may be a safe way to use it in the gilting process. My sister was a chemist for a large company that put mercury in eye makeup for some reason. She was in charge of the operation because Mercury was used.

I have had some items gilted or regilted. One was a coin silver cup that needed a handle reattached. The silversmith recommend a gilt surface for the inside (a parcel gilt) as he could not match the color of coin silver with the sterling that he used. The gold covered both and solved the problem.

The gilted items from the 1870s often have a different surface from earlier years and it makes for a more diffused reflection of light that is very attractive. This must be caused by a different process being used to prepare the surface.

I also wonder what the difference is between gilt and gild. For the most part they may mean the same thing - At least when discussing silver.

In any event you have a great ice cream service set.

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Polly

Posts: 1939
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 11-22-2015 11:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you, awht.

Were you thinking of the matte finish that was popular around that time? Or did you have something else in mind when you described "a different surface" that "makes for a more diffused reflection of light that is very attractive"? Matte surfaces ("butler's finish") seem to have been popular in the 1870s. This set is matte on the top, where it's gilded, and shiny on the bottom. My new (to me) cattail spoon, which I posted recently in another thread, has a gilded matte bowl too. I think it's from roughly the same period. Sometimes part of the decoration will be matte and another part shiny.

(I'm pretty sure "gilt" is just an old-fashioned past tense or adjectival version of "gild"--the equivalent of "gilded." Sort of the way books from the 19th c and earlier sometimes have "spilt milk" instead of "spilled milk." I don't think "gilted" is a word.)

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ahwt

Posts: 2173
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 11-23-2015 10:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Polly, I was thinking of the matte finish, but I didn't know the name for it. And thanks for the English lesson on gilt and gild.

Gilding was not very popular in the early 1800s (at least I have not seen it on many pieces), but really helped define the late 1800s.

Also thanks for the recommendation of your friends book. I am enjoying reading about the Bronte's sisters. I may have to buy a walking stick as Deborah Lutz's enthusiasm is infectious.

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Polly

Posts: 1939
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 11-23-2015 12:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm so glad you're enjoying Deborah's book! I'll pass along your words--I'll be seeing her on Thanksgiving.

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ellabee

Posts: 306
Registered: Dec 2007

iconnumber posted 11-23-2015 10:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ellabee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Your subtle-but-snazzy ice cream set has been a great excuse to pore over silver at dealers with online presences. After a few rounds, I think Wood & Hughes is another possibility to consider as maker.

There are several very nice examples out there of W&H parcel gilt ice cream sets. The server in one of them has two-tone gilt (one section is engine-turned, which may give the different effect). That set has what I think of as "the George Sharp knob handles" (surely there's a term of art for those?).

There's also a flowering plant depicted on the blade, but not a morning glory. I'm a gardener with a wide grasp of plant IDs, and this one has me stumped for the moment. Sort of a deconstructed crown fritillary...

[This message has been edited by ellabee (edited 11-23-2015).]

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agleopar

Posts: 847
Registered: Jun 2004

iconnumber posted 11-23-2015 10:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for agleopar     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Jumping in late and late at night after a refreshing tipple of hard cider... So I will not be held responsible for what I say in the morning.

Generally the matte surface like these is acid etched, a butler finish is a term reserved for a way of polishing that gives a hand rubbed look.

Polly you have nailed gilt - gild - gilding but by 1847 electroplating of both gold and silver had killed Mercury gilding. Even when it was still the only way to gild they knew it was bad for you. Also it was expensive because it used more gold. Electroplated gilt can be very thin (not these).

I think the two colors of gold are rose and green with silver left bare for the white. The engraving is lovely but for some reason the diapering seems tentative and more American than Japanese... Not sure what that means or if it makes them early? I am going to guess the backs have had a good machine polishing? Not sure how they would have left the factory?

And yes there is a very good gilder/plater in Massachusetts who parcel Gilds for me. He does not give me a choice of colors like the old boys I used to use in London who offered lemon yellow, rose, green and other hues of yellow gold. He does offer different polishes, butler, mirror, etc.

My great aunt had a set like this and it was memorable as a child to eat ice cream with them - have fun!


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ellabee

Posts: 306
Registered: Dec 2007

iconnumber posted 11-23-2015 10:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ellabee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The closeup of the server blade is just mesmerizing. The way the light catches the coiled tendril, and the edge of a couple of the leaves. The fineness of the work... wow.

[The inner gardener prefers to think of the flower as a moonvine; a white morning glory = bindweed.]

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Polly

Posts: 1939
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 11-24-2015 10:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you, agleopar. I think it's yellow gold, green gold, and bare silver for white. The yellow does look pinkish in those photos, but next time you come over for ice cream you'll see that it's not that pink. I bet you're right about the machine-polished backs.

So are you saying that the parcel gilding here was electroplated? How does that work--how would you get the gold to stick to only certain areas? Were they painted with some substance that made the gold stick just there? Maybe they waxed the parts they didn't want to gild so the gilding solution couldn't reach them?

Ellabee, yes, it could be W&H. They certainly were capable of fine engraving and gilding. As a gardener, what flower would you say is on the handles of my set? The leaves look very different from the morning glory/moonvine/bindweed.

[This message has been edited by Polly (edited 11-24-2015).]

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ellabee

Posts: 306
Registered: Dec 2007

iconnumber posted 11-24-2015 05:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ellabee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The flower on the handle seems to have five petals; maybe a mallow of some kind (Hibiscus, Lavatera)? They're shrubby, which the stem sort of evokes. Not sure how seriously to take the opposite placement of the leaves; this isn't a herbarium specimen... <g>

The longer I look at these the more I'm in love with them. Other sets have complex parcel gilt designs on the server blade, but few if any have the same complex design on the twelve smaller spoons. And just when the pattern-for-its-own-sake threatens to become dizzying, you can flip them over, and voila. Practically modernist silver, soothingly silent.

[This message has been edited by ellabee (edited 11-24-2015).]

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asheland

Posts: 925
Registered: Nov 2003

iconnumber posted 11-25-2015 11:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
They are terrific indeed!

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agleopar

Posts: 847
Registered: Jun 2004

iconnumber posted 11-27-2015 06:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for agleopar     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes to them being electoplated. Fire gilding has a look and "weight" that is distinctive and will not wear as quickly.

Today stopping off is done with an oil based Sharpie! I do not know the old way but any asphaltum, pitch type substance would have worked. After it is stopped off then in the tank and the gold is deposited on the bare surfaces. It's labor intensive but not hard to do.

And thanks for the invite - pistachio please unless Mr. Husband has a nut allergy??

[This message has been edited by agleopar (edited 11-27-2015).]

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seaduck

Posts: 341
Registered: Dec 2006

iconnumber posted 11-28-2015 09:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for seaduck     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
agleopar-- You mentioned someone who does this sort of work for you. Would you be willing to pass on the name? I have an early 20th century box that was gilded, but it is terribly worn......the result, I suspect, of the misplaced assumption that it was tarnished.

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Polly

Posts: 1939
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 11-29-2015 11:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just saw a large Gorham sterling silver Aesthetic KINGS 1 Pattern serving spoon on a big online auction site, with an almost identical bowl shape (very, very slight differences). It's also parcel gilded and engraved, in more classical-looking, less aesthetic/Japanese-ish pattern than mine. The auction spoon is stamped with a pattern date of 1876 (although the seller seems to have misread it as 1878). This makes me pretty confident my set was made by Gorham. It's possible that some other manufacturer was copying Gorham or they were both inspired by the same original, but I would bet my set's by Gorham.

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Polly

Posts: 1939
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 11-29-2015 11:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And further searching turns up a stuffing spoon in Gorham's King's pattern silver-plate with the same spoon bowl shape.

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agleopar

Posts: 847
Registered: Jun 2004

iconnumber posted 11-30-2015 10:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for agleopar     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Seaduck, happy to,

R.O.Jette, Franklin MA
(508) 520-1493

He is second generation silversmith/repair and his gilding and silver plating are excellent. I highly recommend him to all. Please tell him I did (R. Butler)!

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