These baskets are based upon the George II shell-form baskets produced by silversmiths including Paul de Lamerie and Phillips Garden. A larger pair of American baskets, by Howard & Co. sold at Christie's, New York, January 18-19, 2001, lot 222.
E. F. Caldwell & Co. was one of America's premier manufacturers of lighting fixtures and metalwork in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The company's affiliation with major architects, such as Stanford White, ensured their work appeared in the most prominent commissions, such the Carnegie and Frederick W. Vanderbilt mansions, the White House, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Radio City Music Hall and the Waldorf-Astoria. In addition to large-scale metalwork, the firm also produced clocks, desk sets, and other small luxury objects in their New York foundry. Many of the desk-top objects are etched or engraved with the firm's name, as the present lot. (See: Jeni L. Sandberg, "Edward F. Caldwell", The Magazine Antiques, February 1998).