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AN AMERICAN SILVER ICE BOWL
AN AMERICAN SILVER ICE BOWL
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AN AMERICAN SILVER ICE BOWL

MARK OF GORHAM MFG. CO., PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND, CIRCA 1870

Details
AN AMERICAN SILVER ICE BOWL
MARK OF GORHAM MFG. CO., PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND, CIRCA 1870
Of oval form, chased as a craggy iceberg and applied with suspended icicles, the ends mounted with polar bears, the underside engraved F.E. from J.T, marked on underside, numbered 125, and with date letter
11 1⁄4 in. (28.5 cm.) long
29 oz. 16 dwt. (927 gr.)

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Lot Essay

Gorham lists this model for an ice bowl as No. 125 and it was first introduced on 15 April, 1870 at the manufacturing cost of $81.96. Gorham made several different ice bowls; however, this model was the most popular and best-selling.

The iconography of this ice bowl relates to the 1867 purchase of Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million, or about two cents per acre, by Secretary of State William H. Seward under President Andrew Johnson. Originally ridiculed by Congress and the press, the new Territory of Alaska was dubbed as Seward’s “ice box” and President Johnson’s “polar bear garden.” Also at this time, the Bostonian Frederic Tudor (1783-1864) developed the technology to harvest, market, and sell ice to an affluent client base. Therefore, as a luxury good in the late 19th century, silver ice bowls such as this one, decorated with motifs of icebergs and polar bears possibly referring to the contemporary nicknames for the Territory of Alaska, reflected its value and prestige. (See Samuel J. Hough, "The Class of 1870: Gorham Sterling Ice Bowls," Silver Magazine, September-October 1989, pp. 30-33).

Identical examples of 1870 Gorham Ice Bowls were sold at Christie's, New York, 20 January 2017, lot 757, and 17-18 January 2019, lot 828.

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