A spectacular and very rare American silver and enamelled 108 piece 'Lap Over Edge' flatware service made around 1891 by Tiffany & Co. New York leads Bonhams
two-day Silver and Objects of Vertu including Gold Boxes sale in London on Thursday 20 and Friday 21 October. It is estimated at £40,000-60,000.
The Tiffany 'Lap Over Edge' service is so named because the rolled silver handle edges are turned towards the back, or sometimes towards the front, making the edges thicker than the middles. Every individual item fork, knife spoon, etc incorporated a different design giving a more random and unique appearance to the service as a whole.
Each piece in the service offered for sale was hand-made to the clients precise specifications. It was, therefore, extremely costly to produce and although the identity of the client is unknown, he or she would have been very wealthy. Every piece was hand struck and hand worked with acid etching and engraving, the unique selling point being that every handle was hand-decorated with complex, multi-coloured champlevé enamelling. Realistic studies of all types of flowers and leaves, including daffodils, snowdrops, delphiniums, thistles, roses, lilacs and so on, (and sometimes geometric shapes), grace every handle. Each item was embellished with jewel-like enamelling, painstakingly applied.
Cecile Shannon, Bonhams Silver specialist, said, 'This is a wonderful and very rare example of Tiffanys ground-breaking Lap Over Edge' design - the most innovative silver flatware the company ever produced. In a break with the rigidities of the past, it adapted and incorporated Japanese motifs, artistry, and design to create a new cross-cultural sensibility which was both beautiful and functional. Made by hand to the most exacting standards this labour intensive, costly special-order service stands as an emblem of late 19th century American conspicuous consumption and the luxury of the Gilded Age.
Other highlights of the two-day sale, which consists of 590 lots, include:
A Louis XV vari-coloured gold and enamelled oval snuff box by Jean-Joseph Barrière, Paris 1772. The box was previously in the Sir Michael Oppenheimer Collection, Jersey. Estimate: £10,000-15,000.
An 18 carat vari-coloured gold, enamelled and diamond box in the Fabergé style, retailed by Asprey, London 1988. This box was inspired by a Fabergé Imperial presentation snuff box and egg given to Tsar Nicholas II on his coronation in 1896. Estimate: £12,000-18,000.
A unique 18 carat gold beaker by Rod Kelly, London 2006. Although he had made several pieces in gold, this was Rod Kelly's first commissioned beaker to be made in 18 carat gold. Rod Kelly, a highly regarded master silversmith and goldsmith, is one of the country's leading chasers. This beaker shows his distinctive technique of low relief chasing. Estimate: £12,000-18,000.
A monumental American silver covered jug by Andrew Ellicott Warner, Baltimore circa 1845. This jug is particularly rare because of its large size. No other jug by the silversmith of similar capacity has been found. It is part of the collection of the Edmondson family of Baltimore who originally commissioned the silver pieces in the 19th century. Estimate: £6,000-8,000.
A collection of early spoons to include An Elizabeth I silver apostle spoon, The Master George Fabutt, London 1572. Estimate: £3,000-4,000.