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Author Topic:   unidentified Tiffany & Co item
nightshade

Posts: 15
Registered: May 2009

iconnumber posted 05-13-2009 08:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nightshade     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
[26-1847]

Alright guys first off it is nice to meet all of you!

I have a Tiffany & Co item that I found at an estate sale. I have shown it to 2 antiques roadshow appraisers, 3 major auction galleries, three large antique dealers, numerous collectors, and not one has been able to tell me what is. Or what it was made to carry.

It is marked Tiffany & Co twice with the serial number 6969M6059, sterling and the initials M.MAc.M.. It is in fantastic condition as well. From using a chronology of markings I would say it was made in the 1880's to 1890's.

My main question is what was it made to hold? I say it is a traveling tea or tobacco jar. One antique dealer said it was a powder puff. That is not likely because the shape, lid, size and style are all wrong.

If you have seen one of these before or have any info please help.

I have been researching this thing for 3 months, and really am no farther along than when I started. I understand I can hire Tiffany to research it, but their charge is much. I just can't justify that cost right now.

I am a antique bottle collector so this is not my field of expertise.

Thanks again, and I appreciate you looking!

I look forward to learning more from the members here.

Brad

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Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 05-14-2009 12:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
First off, what are the dimensions? And is it silver and if so, how marked? What is the Gothic letter after Sterling? That allows us to date it as that is the initial of the Tiffany president.

The glass has an 1880's look to it. Is the pattern in the glass cut or pressed? Is there any signature on the glass, these are really hard to find.

The size is all important in determining function. If it is under 1" in diameter, I would suspect it is a vinaigrette, used for holding sponges soaked in smelling salts. If it is between 1" and 1 1-2" a pyx is likely. If it is quite large, say 8" or more across, I would suspect some commercial usage.

Is there some line of very fine scratches girdeling the piece at some point? That would indicate having been in a stand. What sort of wear does the bottom have?

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vathek

Posts: 962
Registered: Jun 99

iconnumber posted 05-14-2009 08:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for vathek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This looks like it may be a dresser jar, probably part of a larger set and intended to hold some sort of toiletry.That's my guess at least.

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nightshade

Posts: 15
Registered: May 2009

iconnumber posted 05-14-2009 02:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nightshade     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Nice to meet you guys, and I appreciate your help.

dimensions- 5" tall x 2 3/4" w x 1 7/8" thick

marked under lid- Tiffany & Co
6969M6059
STERLING

side of lid- Tiffany & CO M Sterling

In my eyes it is cut glass, but I have had one lady say it is pressed. Not sure on that one. I cannot find a signature.

The opening in the top is 1" x 1 3/8"

It does not have any type of pour spout, and I think it is probably not liquid tight. The more I think about it the more I believe it is for tea or tobacco.

There is no base wear what so ever, and the bottom is rounded so that is does not stand well on it's own. I think it was kept in a pouch of some form. Maybe like a crown royal bag. There is some fine scratches, but nothing to indicate a base was ever used.

Once again thanks for your help, and I appreciate your site. If any of your members ever comes up with a antique bottle or jar question let me know. I a very knowledgeable on the that subject.

Thanks

Brad

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bascall

Posts: 1626
Registered: Nov 99

iconnumber posted 05-14-2009 04:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bascall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
At this point tea or tobacco doesn't make sense to me because it looks like the piece does not lend itself well to getting a leafy material in our out of it easily.

A dresser item may come the closest except for the rounded edges of the piece which suggest it was made for carrying on your person with the minimum amount of bulge to it.

This is a very interesting Tiffany product. Hopefully, you will not have to go to them for identification. Good luck with your research. It'll be on my mind for a while to come. Thank you for sharing it.

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11377
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 05-14-2009 05:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It does have a toiletry kit look. The lid securely closes and locks in place with the thumbscrew. The under lid doesn't seem to have cork or leather so as to create a tight seal. Therefore whatever was to be kept in the container, it was most likely not a power or fine in size. I suspect the contents could have been tea leaves, tobacco, or ???.

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nightshade

Posts: 15
Registered: May 2009

iconnumber posted 05-14-2009 07:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nightshade     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I checked the jar for water tightness. IT is not. I think it could be a room deoderizer possibly, and the set screw lid allows you to regulate the amount put out by the jar. Thanks again for looking.

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Richard Kurtzman
Moderator

Posts: 759
Registered: Aug 2000

iconnumber posted 05-14-2009 07:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is from the 1880's and it is not pressed glass.

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nightshade

Posts: 15
Registered: May 2009

iconnumber posted 05-14-2009 08:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nightshade     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you sir! I am in the glass business, and we cut plate grooves into shelves. This seams to be about the same type of look. You came up with the same date as I did, but now just finding someone who knows what it held. Thanks for your help every little bit get me closer to my goal.

Brad

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Paul Lemieux

Posts: 1768
Registered: Apr 2000

iconnumber posted 05-15-2009 12:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think almost certainly the design work of Charles Osborne during his stint at Tiffany (1879-1887).

[This message has been edited by Paul Lemieux (edited 05-15-2009).]

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Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 05-15-2009 12:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If it does not have much bottom wear, it obviously was kept in some sort of case. Tiffany did make a number of traveling cases with fitted openings for glass items. I've had a few and noticed that if made by a silver maker, the glass parts are dictated by necessity. What would there be that should not be in touch with silver much? Why not all silver?

Once I encountered one used by hunters to carry gunpowder. Each night, they would use the gunpowder to fill shells suited for tomorrow's targets.

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nightshade

Posts: 15
Registered: May 2009

iconnumber posted 05-15-2009 02:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nightshade     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for your help guys. I really appreciate it. This has truly been like a mystery trying to figure out what this piece is.

[This message has been edited by nightshade (edited 05-15-2009).]

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nightshade

Posts: 15
Registered: May 2009

iconnumber posted 05-15-2009 05:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nightshade     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Could it be possible that someone hired Tiffany to make this piece? That could explain why nobody seems to know what this is.
Have a great weekend.

B-

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Kimo

Posts: 1597
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 05-15-2009 06:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Anything is possible, but I doubt if something as simple as this would have been a specially made object. The rounded bottom suggests it was in a holder of some kind - most likely one of those boxed sets of toiletries. The use of so little silver suggests to me that it may not have been made as one of the higher end sets that would likely have been all sterling with some gold wash and fine chasing and designs.

At this point I am leaning away from it having been used for tobacco or tea since that would not not be consistent with a toiletry set, and the lack of an airtight seal would mean that any tea or tobacco kept in it would quickly go stale.

The two thoughts I have at this point are 1) something along the lines of a potpourrie or vinagrette use for freshening one's room, or 2) a hair keeper. Ladies of the day typically saved the hair that collected in their brushes by placing in glass containers with lids with holes in the center. They then used this to give to their beaus, or weave into rememberances, or such.

It could be something else though. Hopefully someone will eventually come with with a definitive answer.

[This message has been edited by Kimo (edited 05-15-2009).]

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nightshade

Posts: 15
Registered: May 2009

iconnumber posted 05-15-2009 07:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nightshade     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I understand what you are saying, but I would not say it is a simple design. I have been collecting glass scents, jars and bottles for 25 years. This is the fanciest type of closure I have ever seen on any glass container. I am not trying to be argumentative it is just how see it. I agree that a all silver one would be fancier, but I think this piece was made to show the beauty of glass and silver working in sync. Most toiletries from this era had ground stoppers or are just flip. Given tiffany is not my specialty, and I could be wrong. I would not be 5000th time. Someone will come along who knows what it is. If it is part of a set I would love to be able to see them all together. They would have been very pretty.

I may just have to end up paying the 1000.oo to Tiffany to find the true answer as to what this held.
Brad

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Richard Kurtzman
Moderator

Posts: 759
Registered: Aug 2000

iconnumber posted 05-15-2009 10:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
nightshade, There is no doubt that Tiffany made this and that the glass is English - Webb.
Regarding the screw top, it was sometimes used on traveling inkwells - not that this was for ink, but it probably was for traveling.
As for its precise use, nobody knows for certain and I doubt that anyone is going to come along and be able to give you an authoritative answer.
If you have a $1000 to burn... Well I believe that's the only way you're going to get the definitive answer.

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bascall

Posts: 1626
Registered: Nov 99

iconnumber posted 05-16-2009 01:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bascall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Although the design is contemporary with the period the piece was made, the American Tiffany bottle gives me the impression that decoration had something do with its function, fumes or aroma or even smoke. The English Tiffany bottle reinforces that notion a bit. More guessing.

If the bottle were mine, I'd just hang on until somebody shows up that knows something. It seems apparent that yours is not a one off item. Sooner or later someday might pass your way that knows something about it. That's just my take. Good luck, whatever the outcome.

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nightshade

Posts: 15
Registered: May 2009

iconnumber posted 05-16-2009 01:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nightshade     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Richard Kurtzman:
nightshade, There is no doubt that Tiffany made this and that the glass is English - Webb.
Regarding the screw top, it was sometimes used on traveling inkwells - not that this was for ink, but it probably was for traveling.
As for its precise use, nobody knows for certain and I doubt that anyone is going to come along and be able to give you an authoritative answer.
If you have a $1000 to burn... Well I believe that's the only way you're going to get the definitive answer.

Wow thanks for showing me that picture. That is a beautiful piece! Is it close to the same size as mine? The silver work looks to be identical. Have you ever seen other sizes of this type of jar?

As for the fumes idea I think it makes sense just because of the cut pattern the glass has in it. IT reminds me of fumes escaping the top. That could mean smelling salts, but that would be a whole lot of smelling salts. I dug a spiraled cobalt scent circa 1800-1820 from the New England Glass house. It is a tiny little thing. SO that leads me bask to some type of scent or perfume. Thanks for your help! I will post a pic of my scent in a moment.

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nightshade

Posts: 15
Registered: May 2009

iconnumber posted 05-16-2009 01:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nightshade     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
[IMG]www.smpub.com/ubb/images/09/26-1847-valance057a.jpg[/IMG]

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Paul Lemieux

Posts: 1768
Registered: Apr 2000

iconnumber posted 05-17-2009 03:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by bascall:
Although the design is contemporary with the period the piece was made, the American Tiffany bottle gives me the impression that decoration had something do with its function, fumes or aroma or even smoke. The English Tiffany bottle reinforces that notion a bit. More guessing. .

The decoration is not related to its function. It is quite typical of Charles Osborne's stylized sea-related designs for Tiffany and Whiting. The design along the silver fitting may represent the wavy edge of a clamshell or undulating ocean water. I have had virtually the same design on an ice cream server handle.

The motif on the glass looks to me like tendrils or a stylized depiction of underwater plant life.

The glass design on the example Richard posted is very similar to a silver repousse technique known as "pearling", which represented swirling sea bubbles, and was used by Tiffany & Whiting in this period.

For example this Tiffany chatelaine clip.

I agree with others who suggested this was part of a traveling set, probably toiletry-related. Not likely to have been a specially-ordered piece. I do not think it is for tea or tobacco. Not really sure about it being for perfume either; it doesn't look like it has a waterproof and would likely leak during travel. To me it doesn't look like it was made to decant liquid, and I don't see any place for any sort of dauber.

To me the typeface of the monogram looks rather masculine. If it's an original monogram (can't really tell from the picture), perhaps this was some kind of gentleman's accessory.

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nightshade

Posts: 15
Registered: May 2009

iconnumber posted 05-17-2009 07:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nightshade     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You know I think your right. The style of glass looks kinda like sea grass swaying in the current. The engraving looks to be original to me, and does look to be of the masculine type. very Block styled letters. I am sure you are right about the fact that is part of some type of travel kit. Thanks for your help, and I hope you have had a fantastic weekend.

Brad

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bascall

Posts: 1626
Registered: Nov 99

iconnumber posted 05-17-2009 09:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bascall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For another guess and in line with the travelling kit idea, tooth powder boxes are found in the same basic shape as this bottle.

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nightshade

Posts: 15
Registered: May 2009

iconnumber posted 05-17-2009 11:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nightshade     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Tooth powder! I think that is the best idea yet. A tooth brush can the bottom. The seal would hold the powder in, and it is something I think a man may carry. Truly I think you may have hit the nail on the head. The main thing to me is the shape of the opening, and the fact a tooth brush could clean the whole jar out. To me it makes the most sense on the most levels. Thanks a lot for all your input.

What I have liked the most about this piece is the mystery. When I dig or purchase a new bottle I pretty much know all I need to about it. Even if it is a mystery I am able to solve it in a day or so. This thing has had me looking for months now.

I truly want to say thank you for your wonderful site. My favorite thing about collecting is the search for knowledge. I have talked to many many antique "experts" about this item who did not offer 1/8th the insight this site, and members have given me.

Thank you

Brad

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bascall

Posts: 1626
Registered: Nov 99

iconnumber posted 05-18-2009 06:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bascall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You're welcome Brad. Hopefully as a group we're on to something. The size of the lid on this container has made me curious from the start. There's just seems to be a lot of wasted space to it. Here's a link to an article concerning a duplex tooth powder box that might provide an explanation for the extra space in the lid: The Dental cosmos By J. D. White

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Ulysses Dietz
Moderator

Posts: 1265
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 05-20-2009 08:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great fun to watch you guys figure it out. Surely part of a luxurious man's traveling dressing case--a superb one from the 1893 Columbian Exhibition in Chicago sold in January at Christie's. Tooth powder was my thought, but you'd think there would be a pierced strainer to avoid spills (on trains, ships, etc). Could be bath salts, which men carried as well as women.

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regjoe

Posts: 6
Registered: May 2009

iconnumber posted 05-26-2009 08:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for regjoe     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What an unusual piece !

I'm going to hazard a guess that perhaps it may be an awfully fancy 'sander' , used for dip pens .

They'd be used for distributing a very fine sand on a wet-penned letter/document for absorbing the slow-drying ink ; they sometimes would be included as part of a 'desk set' .

After sprinkling the absorbent on the letter , sand would then be poured back into it's 'sander' , to be used over & over .

That's just my guess though , on this unusual item .

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bascall

Posts: 1626
Registered: Nov 99

iconnumber posted 06-02-2009 07:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bascall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is one definition for a tooth powder box that comes from a silver reference book:

Formed as a long, narrow, shallow box with a centrally hinged double lid, these are found in small fitted cases with a tooth brush and sometimes a tongue scraper . They date from the last quarter of the 18th century.

[This message has been edited by bascall (edited 06-02-2009).]

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silverhunter

Posts: 704
Registered: Jul 2007

iconnumber posted 06-03-2009 05:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for silverhunter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Perhaps the firm can find the serial number in an old archive. Sometimes there is a archive but most of the firms update and that is for historical research not very helpful, they destroy old useful information.

Firms could give lists of old serial numbers, for instance, to silver forum archives or musea archive, that should be helpful.

I have not read all reactions but should it be possible it is a rather big smelling water reservoir. That there was a sponge inside sprinkled with perfumed water. Like there are silver Loderein boxes, but than made like this.

When this idea was already mentioned sorry for this not original reaction from this side.

It is a very beautiful silver/glass ........
nice to have in your collection!

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