The iconography of this ice bowl relates to the 1867 purchase of Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million. Also, at this time, the Bostonian, Frederic Tudor (1783-1864) developed the technology to harvest, market, and sell ice to an affluent client base. Ice was a luxury in the late 19th century, and silver bowls reflected its value and prestige.
Catering to this trend, Gorham produced a number of Alaskan-themed ice bowls. The most familiar model is formed as ice blocks and set with polar bears at the ends; an example is in the Dallas Museum of Art. However, this model, no. 110, was the earliest designed by Gorham, appearing in 1866 costing books. It was featured in a 1868 Harper’s Magazine article on Gorham and is illustrated on the cover of Charles Carpenter’s Gorham Silver, 1982. (See Samuel J. Hough, "The Class of 1870: Gorham Sterling Ice Bowls," Silver Magazine, September-October 1989, pp. 30-33).