• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2132

    Important American Silver

    23 January 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 40



    Price Realised  


    The ivory tusk body, on lozenge-form silver-gilt base cast and chased with underbrush, set on four knobbed feet and with spiraling plant-form joins above tiger's heads at intervals, the silver-gilt handle with spiraled beading and scrolling rosette-studded joins, the silver-gilt rim mount with foliate sprays and a scrolling drop join at center, with beak-form lip, the lobed cover hinged, the dome with multi-lobed studs, centering a squat lobed finial; the ivory finely carved with a tiger charging towards mother and child and hunters aiming at the animal with rifle and spears, the background carved with lush foliage and architectural detail, marked under foot, also marked 14266/2510

    This tankard is described in the Tiffany pattern book as "Tiffany Ivory Tusk E. Ind." with a silver weight of "209.9 ozt."
    26 in. high

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    This magnificent tankard was produced during the tenure at Tiffany's of Joseph Fischer, the German-born master ivory carver who sculpted the firm's major pieces from 1892 to 1906. The elaborate carving of the tusk shows Fischer's hand, and the monumental scale and the exotic theme of the design indicate that Paulding Farnham was responsible for the overall artistic direction.

    This object closely relates to three other carved ivory and silver tankards of the period, each attributable to Fischer. In an early example, dated 1896, the ivory is carved into a tiger-hunting scene, the silver cover formed as an animal head with ivory tusks (illus. Amy Dehan, "Tiffany's Tiger Hunt Loving Cup," The Magazine Antiques, March 2006, pp. 68). A second example, designed by Paulding Farnham for the Paris Exposition of 1900, was carved by Fischer into a violent confrontation between tiger and gorilla amid lush jungle foliage (sold online, Sotheby's, 26 April 2001; illus. John Loring, Magnificent Tiffany Silver, 2001, p. 216). The latest known example, dated 1910 and carved by Fischer after he had officially left the firm, presents a more abstract, patterned style, also in Indian taste (illus. John Loring, Magnificent Tiffany Silver, 2001, p. 238).

    This group of tankards was an important subset of Tiffany's engagement with themes of westward expansion in the United States and with the country's increased contact with near and far eastern countries. The company created objects that celebrated these developments under the umbrella of exoticism, a concept that was newly appealing to their clients. The Native American and Orientalist designs were certainly part of this effort and featured prominently at the 1893, 1900 and 1901 Expositions of Chicago, Paris and Buffalo.

    The present example's exotic theme, the tiger hunt narrative, is featured on three other important Tiffany Orientalist objects, as reported and illustrated in Amy Dehan's "Tiffany's Tiger Hunt Loving Cup." In a silver loving cup with ivory tusk handles of 1893 (Cincinnati Art Museum) and the carved ivory tankard of 1896 (listed above), the hunt is conducted by men atop elephants, a tiger attacking its menacingly armed pursuers. A similar scene is depicted on a dedication tankard of 1905, entirely silver and unsigned by Tiffany, but signed instead by one of Tiffany's primary craftsman at the time, Frank Malsch.

    According to Dehan, the inspiration for the scene depicted in these objects may have come from a design by Antoine Louis Barye, famed animalier sculptor of the period, in his Tiger Hunt of 1836. In Barye's scene, a tiger lunges at an elephant-mounted hunter, who points his weapon at the charging animal.

    The risk and power associated with hunting are very much in the vein of the grander theme of exoticism. The elephant-mounted hunting party imagery would have been appealing or even familiar to Tiffany's clients. In the present example, the exchange between humans and tigers suggests a kind of desperation. The role of the hunters is perhaps more heroic than recreational, as they strain to protect the earth-bound mother and child from the lunging tiger.

    Due to their scale and exoticism of subject, these products of Tiffany's Orientalism naturally appealed to patrons with correspondingly grand and entrepreneurial profiles. The self-made Hungarian immigrants Mr. and Mrs. Charles Fleischmann of the Fleischmann Yeast Company were presented the Tiger Hunt Loving cup, 1893, by the Yeast Company's upper management. The 1900 tankard, designed by Farnham and mentioned above, was purchased by the Pabst Brewing Company, possibly at its unveiling at the Paris Exposition. The latest tankard of this size and style of 1910, mentioned above, was likely given to Jean Jules Jusserand, the French ambassador to the United States (1902-1925) by Robert Bacon, the American ambassador to France (1909-1912).

    Special Notice

    Prospective purchasers are advised that several countries prohibit the importation of property containing materials from endangered species, including but not limited to coral, ivory and tortoiseshell. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country.


    Myron Charles Taylor (1874-1959)
    Robert Hayes Gore (1886-1972)
    The University Club of Notre Dame University,1967-2008

    Myron Charles Taylor (1874-1959), a business executive and United States diplomat graduated from Cornell Law School in 1894 and practiced in the textiles industry until his understanding of the industry's structure drove him to take a more entrepreneurial position in its future. Taylor made his fortune in American and Canadian textile companies through a series of savvy merges and reorganizations. He sold his share of the industry for $20 million in 1923.

    He was quickly recognized as a talented strategist in the business world, and he served on several important corporate boards and eventually took on a role as chairman of board and chief executive officer at U.S. Steel, a position from which he stabilized the company. He is well-remembered for his involvement in compromising with the labor unions, an act that set a precedent for managerial cooperation with unions in the steel industry.

    After he left U.S. Steel in 1938, he increased his involvement in a variety of humanitarian causes. He met Franklin D. Roosevelt through his work on the New York Emergency Relief Committee and in 1939, Roosevelt appointed him the president's personal representative to Pope Pius XII. He maintained the post through World War II, and continued to facilitate communication between Washington and the Vatican when Truman took office. In Taylor's memoir, Wartime Correspondence Between President Roosevelt and Pope Pius XII, 1947, the Pope remembers Taylor's role as crucial to the "solution of urgent problems, the interchange of important information, the organization of American relief which flowed in such generous streams to alleviate the misery begotten of the war."

    Later this tankard belonged to Robert Hayes Gore (1886-1972), a newspaper editor in the Midwest who made his fortune in the insurance industry. He was Governor of Puerto Rico (1933-1934) under Franklin D. Roosevelt. This tankard was among Gore's collection of steins, which he donated to Notre Dame University in 1967.

    Saleroom Notice

    Please note that this ivory tankard is subject to CITES.


    Amy Dehan, "Tiffany's Tiger Hunt Loving Cup," The Magazine Antiques, March 2006, illus. p. 68