Founded in Geislingen, Germany in 1853 with sixteen workers, the Württembergische Metallwarenfabrik is popularly referred to today with the acronym "WMF". During the second half of the 19th century the company grew steadily, and by 1914, the number of employees had expanded to over 6000, with factories in Germany, Poland and Austria and showrooms in London, Paris, Hamburg and Berlin.
The company's unremitting industry was recorded by an ever growing series of sales catalogues printed in three languages and despatched to all points of the globe. The large quantity and variety of objects WMF produced still offers a lot of opportunities for today's collectors.
The present centrepiece is depicted in WMF's 1906 British catalogue, but may have been available in Germany earlier. In the British catalogue, the model is described under number 226 as: "Centrepiece, silver plated, I/O quality, "Old Silver" finish, shells gilt inside, richly cut crystal "Z" glasses, 350/- each. If finished bright, 360/- each" (see Art Nouveau, Domestic metalwork from Württembergische Metallwarenfabrik, The English Catalogue 1906, Antique Collector's Club, 1988, p. 80).