This jug, a pair of candelabra (lot 6) and tea service (lot 68), in addition to sculptures, porcelain and decorative arts sold in Christie's auction of 19th Century Furniture, Sculpture, Works of Art and Ceramics, April 19, 2006, are property from the Corporate Collection of Lenox/Gorham. The collection is being made available by the Brown-Forman Corporation, which was the parent company of Lenox from 1983-2005. After Lenox purchased Gorham in 1991, the company donated nearly 2000 silver pieces and drawings to the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, and a selection of the archives to Brown University.
According to Gorham scholar Sam Hough, this "one-of-a-kind bejewelled showpiece is contrary to almost everything Gorham made." Created for display at the Columbian Exposition, it demonstrated that Gorham could make such an elaborate piece as well as any of the finest American or European silversmiths.
The unique nature of this piece is indicated by the difficulty with which Gorham had in naming it. The glass account book refers to it as a "claret jug," the costing slip refers to it as "cologne bottle" and the file photograph refers to a "rosewater bottle."
The April 20, 1893 costing slip indicates a value of $240. This included, in part, 150 hours of labor and 78 hours of chasing, $44 for the glass and $29 for the 61 inset moonstones, amethysts and garnets.
See lots 29 and 34 for other Gorham silver exhibited at the Columbian Exposition of 1893.