A Legacy of Sterling Silver
With striking new designs or with new flourishes to renowned patterns, Tiffany silver graces the home now, as it has since 1837, with an unparalleled tradition of excellence. From the time he founded Tiffany & Co., Charles Lewis Tiffany (1812-1902) brought the best of all worlds - exotic finds from China, India and Europe, royal jewels, lavishly chased sterling silver - to a captivated and ever growing clientele. By 1850 this master merchant's enterprise was emerging as one of the world's leading silversmiths.
In 1851 the company signed an agreement with leading New York silversmith John C. Moore to make hollowware pieces. Moore was instructed to follow the standard for English sterling-925 parts per 1,000 parts silver-which was the standard eventually adopted by the United States. Tiffany later merged operations with Moore, who soon enlisted the help of his son, Edward. The younger Moore would become the guiding force behind Tiffany's silverware business for the next forty years.
The rapid expansion of wealth in America created a demand for silver objects, which was further fueled by the discovery of extensive silver deposits in the West. Tiffany crafted the abundant metal into opulent designs that epitomized the sumptuous décor and dining habits of the Gilded Age. The varied motifs were derived from Moore's vast design library. His countless volumes on architecture, horticulture and metallurgy, as well as collections of Japanese lacquer, Islamic glass, Middle and Far Eastern tiles and textiles, and European porcelains, formed the basis of the ""Tiffany School,"" America's first school of design.
The silver designs inspired by Moore's library won top awards at the world's fairs of the late 19th century. At the 1878 Paris fair, Tiffany was awarded the Grand Prize for Excellence, the first given to an American silversmith. Much attention was paid to the company's innovative Japanesque-style silver, designs of a refined simplicity with hammered surfaces, applied three-dimensional flora and fauna, and inlaid mixed metals. Unsurpassed in the history of American silver, Tiffany's Japanesque silver had an important and modernizing influence on American and European decorative arts.
Tiffany's silver entry at the 1878 fair also included the spectacular Mackay dinner-and-dessert service for 24, one of the most elaborate silver table services ever produced. Created from a half-ton of silver sent by prospector John Mackay from his Comstock Lode mines in Nevada, the 1,250-piece service, including hollowware and flatware, was developed from flower-encrusted Persian and Indian motifs, with thistles, shamrocks, and American flowers. The service took two years and 200 craftsmen to complete.
These historic achievements established Tiffany as the unchallenged master of American silver design and represent the highest standards of quality and craftsmanship that direct Tiffany silversmiths today. The company's hollowware workshop, Tiffany & Co. Makers, located in Parsippany, New Jersey, is one of a few remaining producers of hand-wrought silver in the United States. The collections, including intricate and skill-intense statement silver, define the art of contemporary entertaining and decorating.
Tiffany's silver legacy gleams in candlesticks, tea sets and trays, vases, bowls, pitchers, plates and a wealth of accessories in such acclaimed patterns as Chrysanthemum (c. 1880), the most ornate of any American silver pattern, with flowing curves and blossoming plants that prefigure Art Nouveau; Audubon (c. 1871), adapted from 19th century bird paintings; Arts & Crafts, accented with copper rivets and carved jade finials; and in tribute to a seminal Tiffany collection, Japanesque silver, hand hammered and chased, with mixed metals in detailed, naturalistic patterns.
The company's celebrated flatware patterns include Century, created in 1937 to commemorate the company's 100th anniversary; and Bamboo, introduced in 1965 and winner of the International Design Award.
Each design represents the rich heritage of Tiffany silver that for generations has welcomed guests into beautifully appointed homes and cast a lustrous glow over life's most memorable occasions.
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