This vase was likely presented to General Thomas L. James at his annual birthday celebration to honor his friends, and held on December 8, 1889. The New York Times reported on the ninth event in the series, on December 8, 1892, and noted that Vanderbilt, Webb, and Barton were all in attendance for that celebration.
A New York native, Thomas L. James was appointed Postmaster General of New York by President Grant in 1873 and Postmaster General of the United States in 1880. Resigning from public life in 1882, James moved into the private sector where he became the President of the Lincoln National Bank in New York City, a position he retained in until his death in 1912.
Frederick William Vanderbilt, son of William Henry and grandson of the Commodore, joined the family railroad business in 1878 upon his graduation from Yale. Vanderbilt owned two estates in addition to his Fifth Avenue home, one in Hyde Park and the other, known as "Rough Point" in Newport, Rhode Island.
Henry Walter Webb, who practiced law in New York, was affiliated with numerous financial organizations and railroads. Samuel Barton was a stockbroker and nephew of Commodore Vanderbilt.