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Butter Dish

Decorative Arts and Design

On View: Luce Visible Storage and Study Center, 5th Floor
These two silver dishes, made in New York a generation apart, were both designed to serve butter at the dining table in an upper-middle-class household. Although both have highly decorated surfaces, the Tiffany dish appears more modern to the contemporary eye. This is due to the narrative linear decoration and the simple, bold geometry of the silhouette, both inspired by the Aesthetic Movement of the 1870s and 1880s, which looked to the arts of Japan.
DATES 1870–1875
DIMENSIONS 5 x 7 1/4 x 7 1/4 in. (12.7 x 18.4 x 18.4 cm)
MARKINGS Impressed on bottom of Base: "TIFFANY & Co / 3744 MAKERS 3878 / STERLING SILVER / 925-1000 / M" Engraved in tiny numerals to right of TIFFANY & Co: "631" Scratched on bottom: "42" Impressed on bottom of Drainer: "3744 / 3878"
CREDIT LINE Gift of Lisa M. Price, by exchange
CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Silver butter dish, comprising base (a), lid (b), and drainer (c). Base (a) sits on pierced, die-rolled band with half-blossoms impressed on upper and lower edges and piercings of pointed oval shape diagonally set in band, alternating in diagonal directions. Above foot, shallow, dished body rises to broad, square tray with convex sides, bordered by a die-rolled band of interlocking striated triangles. On top of tray, surface is densely engraved with Y shapes, each outlined. On bottom, under maker's mark, small monogram "os." Lid (b) sits on circular depression in center of base. Lid has simple molded rim then convex sloping sides to a die-rolled band above; this die-rolled band is smaller than, but similar to, foot rim, but pointed ovals are solid instead of pierced and half-blossoms at upper edge have been replaced by Ys. Above this, the top of lid flattens and is covered by outlined Y engraving like that on lower section. Cast handle finial in shape of omega. Sloping sides of lied are engraved with Japanese-style ornament including a figure seen from behind carrying a parasol; a half disc with the profile of a grinning man; a man pulling a woman in a rickshaw cart. Between the cart and the figure with parasol is an engraved monogram "S." Pierced drainer (c) is slightly dished disc shape, pierced with petal forms radiating out from central circle. Condition: Old repair to juncture of body and tray on base.
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Luce Visible Storage and Study Center, 5th Floor
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