Two large-scale, American 19th-century yachting trophies sail into Heritage Auctions

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Two large-scale, American 19th-century yachting trophies sail into Heritage Auctions
A Gorham Mfg. Co. Partial Gilt Silver Punch Bowl-Form Yachting Trophy: Hera, Providence, Rhode Island, 1884. Marks: GORHAM & CO., (lion-anchor-G), Q. 9-1/2 x 18 x 13-1/2 inches, (24.1 x 45.7 x 34.3 cm), 3722 grams, (119.6669 troy ounces). Inscribed: WON BY THE SLOOP HERA IN A MATCH RACE WITH THE SLOOP LILLIE 1883. Property from a Southern Gentleman

DALLAS, TEXAS.- Heritage Auctions’ Nov. 15 Silver & Vertu Signature® Auction is a celebration of expert silversmithing. From works by English greats such as John Samuel Hunt and John Bridge to American masters like Gorham Mfg. Co. and Tiffany & Co., the auction teems with exquisitely detailed examples from some of the most notable names in silver.

“This is probably the strongest collection of English silver that we’ve had in the last 10 years,” says Karen Rigdon, Vice President of Fine Silver & Decorative Arts at Heritage Auctions. “But the American offerings are equally exceptional, with rare and important pieces from the American Aesthetic Movement.”

As Rigdon notes, English silver dominated the industry until the mid-1800s, when the world began to take notice of the magnificent work being produced by American silversmiths.

“It’s right around the middle of the 19th century that we see this segue,” she says. “So I’m very excited about this sale illustrating the transition from one height of the industry’s craftsmanship to the next, with examples of the best of the best from both England and America.”

Rare and Important American Silver

Two exquisite large-scale yachting trophies lead the American silver portion of the November auction. The first, a Gorham Mfg. Co. partial gilt silver punch bowl-form yachting trophy: HERA (estimate: $100,000-$150,000), comes out of the American Aesthetic Movement. One of three related bowls that were made by Gorham in 1884-1885, this exceptional punch bowl was a special commission and features a multitude of elaborate sea motifs inspired by Japanese art, including a finely chased design of an artist with palette and brushes riding a dragon alongside serpent and fish on the body of the bowl, as well as handles in the form of dragon heads. The bowl rests on a circular ring of intertwined snakes, and its undulating rim features silver seashells, sand and seaweed. Inscribed on the trophy’s base: “WON BY THE SLOOP HERA IN A MATCH RACE WITH THE SLOOP LILLIE 1883.”

The second yachting trophy in the sale, a Tiffany & Co. silver yachting trophy: Astor Cup from 1893 (estimate: $50,000-$70,000), is one of two cups commissioned by John J. Astor for a three-day race held for American contenders of the America’s Cup. Set on a domed base of waves, the bowl features swaying seagrass fronds, and on its sides, two figureheads blow on a conch shell in victory.

Other highlights in American silver include an 1877 Tiffany & Co. silver walrus ice bowl (estimate: $50,000-$70,000), a massive circa 1865 Tiffany & Co. silver bacchanal-theme punch bowl (estimate: $40,000-$60,000) and an 1880 Tiffany & Co. silver and mixed metal tray (estimate: $30,000-$50,000).

Two Major Texas Collections

The November auction features two exceptional North Texas collections, one of English silver and the other of American silver. From the estate of Fort Worth philanthropist Mildred Hedrick Fender – granddaughter of Ross S. Sterling, founder of Humble Oil and the 31st governor of Texas – comes an extensive collection of English silver. Highlights include a pair of Charles Reily & George Storer silver candelabra (estimate: $30,000-$40,000) made in 1844; a John Bridge silver covered tureen on stand (estimate: $30,000-$50,000) from 1827; and a George III silver and cut-glass epergne (estimate: $8,000-$12,000) made in 1805.

The American collection comes from Mrs. D. Wayne (Janice) Calloway, Dallas, whose husband was chairman and CEO of PepsiCo from 1986 to 1996. The couple were known for lavish gatherings where they played host to American and international dignitaries. The pieces featured in this auction – including a 427-piece Reed & Barton Francis I pattern silver flatware service (estimate: $15,000-$20,000) and a set of 11 Black, Starr & Frost reticulated silver plates (estimate: $8,000-$12,000) – were used at the Calloways’ extravagant events for more than 20 years.

A Celebration of Falconry by a Notable English Silversmith

Known as the sport of kings during the Middle Ages, when it was first brought to Europe, falconry was the inspiration for this striking Lilford Falconry Centerpiece (estimate: $60,000-$80,000) created by John Samuel Hunt in London in 1851. Silversmith to Queen Victoria, Hunt adorned the silver figural covered cup with hooded hawks, hunting scenes and a gentleman tending a heron.

The origin of the cup’s commission is unknown and its subsequent history is a mystery, but at the time of its latest purchase from the 7th Baron Lilford, a photo was shared of the great ornithologist Thomas Littleton Powys, 4th Baron Lilford, with the centerpiece displayed in his study. Lilford’s passion for birds continued throughout his life. Known for his preference for “learning the habits of a bird to procuring a specimen,” he founded the British Ornithologists Union in 1858, the Northamptonshire Natural History Society in 1876 and was a founding member of the Old Hawking Club. He traveled the world collecting birds for his famed aviaries and wrote extensively on the topic. The centerpiece is believed to represent the banding of a bird, an early act of conservation.

Heritage Auctions is the largest fine art and collectibles auction house founded in the United States, and the world’s largest collectibles auctioneer. Heritage maintains offices in New York, Dallas, Beverly Hills, Chicago, Palm Beach, London, Paris, Geneva, Brussels, Amsterdam and Hong Kong. Heritage also enjoys the highest Online traffic and dollar volume of any auction house on earth (source: SimilarWeb and Hiscox Report). The Internet’s most popular auction-house website,, has more than 1,500,000 registered bidder-members and searchable free archives of five million past auction records with prices realized, descriptions and enlargeable photos.

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