Circa-1880 Japonesque knife set carves new world record at Heritage

Circa-1880 silver and mixed metal Gorham Mfg. Japonesque fruit knife set, $45,000

Circa-1880 silver and mixed metal Gorham Mfg. Japonesque fruit knife set, $45,000

DALLAS – Heritage Auctions’ Nov. 16 Fine Silver & Objects of Vertu Signature® Auction soared to nearly $1.2 million. Leading the sale was a 12-piece Gorham Mfg. Japonesque fruit knife set that earned a world-record $45,000. The circa-1880 silver and mixed metal set came from the collection of Dr. Charles Venable, a former museum curator who amassed an enviable assemblage of American-made silver from the late 19th and early 20th century.

“Several American museums have sets of these knives, and I have always loved them,” Venable says, “especially the fact that the handles were patterned on imported Japanese examples.”

Another big seller from Venable’s venerable collection included a large William Gale & Son tray that sold for $20,000 and was purchased by the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute in Utica, New York. Emblazoned with engraved animal images, as well as architectural scenes such as Conwy Castle in Wales, George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, the 1851 creation is, in Venable’s estimation, “one of the great masterpieces in American silver.”

It wasn’t just American pieces that performed well, however. Also finishing strong were several English designs, including a set of 12 Paul Storr gilt silver plates from 1817 that realized $31,250, as well as a Thomas Powell reticulated silver epergne from 1766 that sold for $25,000.

The sale also featured a strong group of Asian silver, such as a massive Arthur & Bond silver wine cooler with three dragon-form handles. Hailing from Yokohama, Japan, the piece realized $17,500.

Other top lots included a Monumental Gorham Mfg. Co. silver two-handled covered trophy bowl, which sold for $21,250; a 14K vari-color gold, guilloche enamel, and diamond-mounted box in the manner of Faberge, which realized $20,000; a 269-piece Wallace Silversmiths Grande Baroque pattern silver flatware service for 30 with 12 metal table articles, which sold for $20,000; and a six-piece Tiffany & Co. Bird’s Nest pattern partial gilt silver tea and coffee service, which also achieved $20,000.


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