In an 1880 lecture titled The Beauty of Life, William Morris, a pioneer of the Arts & Crafts movement, issued a new rule for the days homeowners and decorators: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.
Later that year, with the introduction of its Lap-Over-Edge silver flatware pattern, Tiffany & Co. brought beauty and usefulness together in one exquisite creation. Designed by Charles Grosjean, under the directorship of Tiffanys lead designer Edward C. Moore, Lap-Over-Edge was the most elaborate of all of Tiffany & Co.s silver flatware patterns. Employing mixed metals and inspired by Japanese art, the fanciful and multi-motif design incorporated a variety of decoration all done by hand including etching, engraving and chasing, as well as applied, inlaid or mokume ornamentation. The decoration differs on each piece in each set, and the handles, which vary in form, unify the service with edges that are turned toward the back (and occasionally to the front), giving the pattern its name.
Today, Tiffany & Co.s Lap-Over-Edge flatware is a rare find, with single serving pieces only occasionally coming to market. On Nov. 16, during its Fine Silver & Objects of Vertu Signature® Auction, Heritage
will offer a nearly unheard of opportunity to acquire 135 pieces of the sought-after pattern. The full dinner service for 12 was collected over a period of 30 years and includes a 60-piece dessert and fish service presented as a boxed set. Apart from smaller services in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Minneapolis Museum of Arts, the only other comparable service that has come to light is a 142-piece service for 12 sold by Christies in 1987.
Lap-Over-Edge flatware is dynamic in its variety of motifs and technical application, says Karen Rigdon, Vice President of Fine Silver & Decorative Arts at Heritage Auctions. It was labor-intensive to make, and now, as in 1880, it is a rarity in the marketplace and an honor to present at auction.
The flatware in this Japanese-style pattern, which features naturalistic motifs such as plants, flowers, insects and marine life, was complicated to manufacture because of the innumerable molds, dyes, metalworking techniques and variety of metals it required. The extraordinary complexity of this services design and the technical virtuosity needed to execute it meant that only the wealthiest of Tiffanys clients could afford it. A set of Lap-Over-Edge flatware in the collection at The Met, for example, was ordered by the fabulously wealthy Sugar King H.O. Havemeyer and presented to his bride for their 1883 wedding.
Similarly, the 60-piece dessert and fish service that is part of Heritages offering comes in a wooden box with John H. Harjes name engraved on a metal plaque on the chest. Harjes forged a successful career in international banking, partnering with J.P. Morgan in the French banking firm of Morgan, Harjes & Co.
Other remarkable Tiffany & Co. silver flatware featured in the November auction includes a 400-piece married Olympian pattern service for 12 designed in 1878 and a 221-piece Chrysanthemum pattern service for 12 designed in 1880.
In addition to elegant flatware, Heritages 205-lot fall auction teems with precious treasures that span the globe. From England comes The Falconer, a John Samuel Hunt silver equestrian sculpture for Hunt & Roskell. Created in 1847, the sculpture was presented to Lord Strathmore by the Duke of Nassau and features a falconer sporting Renaissance dress and riding a rearing horse, the falconers arm extended as his falcon readies for flight.
Hailing from 19th-century Austria is a magnificent silver model of the Donner Fountain in Vienna. The silver centerpiece crafted by Würbel & Czokally, a company known for its historicist designs favored by Emperor of Austria Franz Joseph and many members of the Austrian nobility pays homage to the famous Baroque fountain designed by the renowned Austrian sculptor Georg Rafael Donner in the 1730s.
The auction also offers a 19th-century Japanese Masahide enameled silver dragon with a lidded Shibayama container. The winding dragon features gilt enameled accents, and the containers exterior has applied mother-of-pearl birds, butterflies and branches of a blooming cherry blossom tree.
From Russia comes a private collection of Fabergé objects of vertu from the late 19th century and early 20th century, each a reflection of the grandeur of the time. Highlights include a circa 1895 guilloché enameled silver double frame, a circa 1890 jeweled and guilloché enameled gold-mounted rock crystal parasol handle, and a jeweled and guilloché enameled vari-color gold belt buckle from 1896-1908.
Also featured is a sculptural three-piece silver tea service by contemporary American designers Michael and Maureen Banner. Working together as husband and wife since 1968, the Banners first developed a successful line of silver and gold jewelry. Then, in the early 1980s, they began experimenting with hollowware. The Banners work has been shown in dozens of exhibitions since the 1970s and been included in the permanent collections of numerous museums.