Skip Navigation

Tray or Waiter

Decorative Arts

On View: American Identities: A New Look, Expanding Horizons, 5th Floor

Exhibited in Tiffany's display at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, this tray is evidence of the nineteenth-century search for America's roots in its pre-European cultures. The object is based on the famous "sun calendar" of the Aztecs, which had been excavated in Mexico City about a hundred years before and had become an icon of the Pre-Columbian past. After its exhibition, the tray was purchased by William Randolph Hearst for use at his palatial residence, San Simeon.

MEDIUM Silver, agate
  • Place Manufactured: New York, New York, United States
  • DATES ca. 1893
    DIMENSIONS 2 x 21 x 21 x 21 in. (5.1 x 53.3 x 53.3 x 53.3 cm)  (show scale)
    MARKINGS Impressed on back: "TIFFANY & Co / 11361 [globe over T under TIFFANY & Co -- mark for 1893 fair] 4767 / STERLING SILVER / 925-1000"
    SIGNATURE no signature
    INSCRIPTIONS no inscriptions
    COLLECTIONS Decorative Arts
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in American Identities: A New Look, Expanding Horizons, 5th Floor
    CREDIT LINE Modernism Benefit Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
    You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this three-dimensional work in accordance with a Creative Commons license. Fair use, as understood under the United States Copyright Act, may also apply.

    Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please contact (charges apply).

    For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress, Cornell University, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and Copyright Watch.

    For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright.

    If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact
    CAPTION Tiffany & Company (American, founded 1853). Tray or Waiter, ca. 1893. Silver, agate, 2 x 21 x 21 x 21 in. (5.1 x 53.3 x 53.3 x 53.3 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Modernism Benefit Fund, 87.182. Creative Commons-BY
    IMAGE mark, cropped, 87.182_mark_cropped_bw.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Circular tray or waiter (plateau sur table), raised on 10 stepped, ornamented feet, each representing stylized Aztec deity and each crowned by scalloped, semi-circular, brown and black agate disk headdress that rises above gallery. Between each foot is sloping pierced band with stylized, engraved ornament. Between the headdresses is gallery of low, pierced arcade of repeating arches, each centered with small, elaborate cartouche. Center of tray slopes in concave curve away from gallery; surface is ornamented with acid-etched replica of the Aztec sun calendar. CONDITION: Normal wear. One agate headdress (just left of lower center) replaced with enameled copper.
    Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome any additional information you might have.