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Spencer Marks

Tiffany & Co.

Tiffany & Co. Antique Sterling Silver 'Renaissance' Covered Server designed by Paulding Farnham, NYC, NY, c. 1904

Extraordinary sterling covered server of exceptional weight and quality-designed by Paulding Farnham

15 inches across the handles by 9 inches wide by 7.25 inches high


The magnificent, domed cover is surmounted by an urn of fruit flanked with winged cherubs. Beautiful, hammered surfaces create a shimmering backdrop for the repousséd and chased vignettes of fruit amongst scrolling strap-work. Decorating the scalloped border are repeating panels of urns overflowing with fruit bordered by a strap-work design centering a pair of Renaissance-inspired dolphins.

Winged female figures are used as the applied handles. The upper part of the flared bowl is ornamented with urns sprouting tall flowers resembling water fountains and again decorated on the sides with dolphins. Above the heraldic shields (which have never been monogrammed) on each side of the base are a female figure and a male figure. The sides of the oval base have winged cherubs bowing over from the task of holding up the server and its contents.

George Paulding Farnham, one of Tiffany's best designers of the time, "was the acknowledged leader of the Renaissance Revival style in both American jewelry and silver." (1) This exquisite covered server is representative of his genius with its elaborate shapes and motifs. 

Farnham first started working at Tiffany & Co. in 1885 as a general assistant to Edward C. Moore in the design department. By the age of 28, he was "regarded as Tiffany's young genius of jewelry design" and was put in charge of preparing roughly 200 designs for the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1889. (2) His collection of enameled and jeweled gold orchids won him a gold medal and were "singled out by the press as the most original and outstanding jewels shown at the exposition." (3)

Celebrating the turn of the century, the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris was one of the greatest events of its time, holding the attendance record for World's Fairs with some 50 million visitors. "Paulding Farnham's Tiffany & Co. displays of jewels and silver once again won the gold medals." (4)

According to The New York Times, Tiffany & Co. won three gold metals including one for silver:

In their display here, particularly in gems and fine work in precious metal, they have thrown the gauntlet at the feet of the world, and in domestic silverware the most remarkable results are shown. The installation is conspicuous for its artistic beauty and the elegant articles of luxury shown...(5)

Farnham's best silver designs of the period, such as this covered server, have a jewel-like luster and richness to them.

This work of art is marked 'TIFFANY & Co/ 1617 MAKERS/ 769/ STERLING SILVER/925-1000/ C/ 1¾ PINTS/ 2.' It measures 15 inches long across the handles by 9 inches wide by 7.25 inches tall, weighs 72.35 troy ounces, and is in excellent antique condition.


John Loring, Paulding Farnham: Tiffany's Lost Genius, (New York: Abrams, 2000),p. 134.

Loring, p.10


Loring, p. 18.

"Americans as Art Workmen: Substantial Recognition Shown by Paris Exposition Judges to Two New York Concerns" in The New York Times, September 18, 1900, p. 11.