This tureen was the signature piece of Gorham's "Rose Dinner Service" made for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Gorham exhibited 64 pieces from the service including a tea set and a complete dinner and dessert service. Tureens were considered the showpieces of Gorham's dinner services, displaying the pattern in its largest size and fullest detail. Requiring over two years to complete, the Rose Service received one of Gorham's 55 awards for excellence at the fair. The service was written about in a Jewelers' Circular and Horological Review article of May 3, 1893: "The composition of one of the most elaborate of the sterling silver services will possibly give an idea of the magnitude and richness of detail of the exhibit as a whole and is valued at between $20,000 and $25,000...the design is the eglantine or wild rose, and is executed with bold and elegant workmanship on each piece" (p. 37).
According to Gorham scholar, Sam Hough, the tureen costing record (Specials vol. 35, p. 62) indicates that this five-quart tureen was completed in April 1893. It weighed 107 troy ounces 11 pennyweight with the silver valued at $129.00. Although mostly hand-crafted, some of the silver was cast, a process of five hours charged at $2.50. An hour was spent turning some of the silver on a lathe, at a cost of thirty cents. It is also recorded that a silversmith devoted 135 hours to fashion this tureen. A chaser then ornamented the surface for 386 hours, approximately six and a half weeks. The total of silver and labor costs, excluding chasing, came to $182.06. With the additional costs for profit, overhead, and gilding the total net factory price was $675.00.
Gertrude Rhinelander Waldo (1836-1914) was a direct descendant of Philip Jacob Rhinelander, who settled in New Rochelle in 1696 and was patriarch of one of the wealthiest families in New York. She married Francis Waldo (1837-1878) in 1876 and together they commissioned a French Renaissance Revival mansion on Madison Avenue. Begun in the 1890s and designed by the architects Kimball & Thompson, the mansion was completed in 1898. Francis Waldo died before the mansion was completed and Gertrude, suffering financial difficulties, never moved in. She chose to live with her sister, Laura, and unsuccessfully attempted to sell the mansion until a bank foreclosed on the property soon after her death. At that point, the interior of the dilapidated mansion was ruined due to a leaking roof and four burglaries. Still known as the Gertrude Rhinelander Waldo mansion, it is home to the flagship Ralph Lauren store. (John Tauranac, Elegant New York: The Builders and Their Buildings, 1885-1915, 1985)
See lots 29 and 39 for other Gorham silver exhibited at the Columbian Exposition in 1893.
CAPTION: Gorham's costing record for the Rose tureen, Gorham Specials vol. 35, p. 62, courtesy the Gorham Archives, Brown University