This Japanese Aesthetic period tea set is a piece of art produced by Gorham between 1879 and 1880. The three piece set is hand hammered sterling with applied details of frogs, crabs, lizards, fish and a spider in copper and lily pads in sterling. The teapot, open sugar and creamer are all slightly different, and I will describe them individually. This set was hand crafted.
TEAPOT -- The teapot is 3-1/2" high and 6-1/2" wide handle to spout, and weighs 269 grams. The mark on the bottom includes the Gorham hallmark, Sterling, 2105 and the letter M which is the year mark 1880.
The handle appears to be Rosewood, and copper rivets holds it to the sterling body. There is a copper lizard on the lid, and a brass crab at the top of the body of the teapot with copper shells on either side. The design surrounding this appears to be sea "bubbles" and or pebbles. Flowing from the claws of the crab down the body of the teapot are lily pads. The stems of the lily pads are raised.Amongst the lily pads are two flower buds, one with an accent of copper on the outside of the bud. To the right of the body towards the handle is a swimming fish in copper. On the other side of the teapot at the top center is a brass (I believe) spider, and on either side are a copper shell. The water detail is repeated on this side as well. (I may be wrong about the spider, but that's what it looks like). The stems of the "leaves" are incised, and the leaves themselves are copper. To the right towards the handle is a different type of fish in copper. On the top tip of the spout is a raise design in sterling which may be a jellyfish. There is one long tentacle and two shorter ones on each side. OPEN SUGAR BOWL -- The mark on the bottom is the Gorham hallmark, Sterling, and the number 2105, and the letter L which is the year mark for 1879..
This is the mark that is pictured. The teapot and creamer both have the same mark with the exception that the letter mark is M. Possibly the 3 pieces were individually made between the latter part of 1879 and early 1880. This piece is 5" from handle to handle, and the width is 4" front to back, and weighs 200 grams.There is a monogram on the top of the handle which appears to be JFT (also on the creamer). On one side of the bowl is a snail in a shell which is copper. To the left of his head are three (what appear to be) baby snails. To a lesser extent you also have bubbles around the smaller snails. The spray of lily leaves take up more of the design, and they are sterling.
There is a flower bud again, and that has a copper accent over the "bud". To the left is a lizard in copper. On the other side is a crab with the bubble accent, and several copper shells or baby snails.
You also have the sterling leaves and one flower bud with a copper accent. There is an engraved detail on the top of the handle on both the creamer and sugar of what appears to be a lotus flower. CREAMER -- The mark on the bottom is the Gorham hallmark, Sterling and other metals, and the number 2105, and the letter M for 1880. This is the only one of the three that mentions "and other metals". It is 3-1/2" from handle to spout, and 2-1/2" tall, and weighs 131 grams.
Under the spout is a copper fish with its tail curved up. One side of the creamer has the three dimensional crab in copper with one copper shell? To its left, and the image of foam and/or pebbles on either side of the crab. There are three lily leaves fanning out under the crab with two flower buds.All the leaves and stems are sterling. There is copper detailing on one of the buds. The reverse side has a frog just below the neck of the creamer in copper. The sterling leaves flow out from under the frog, and again there are two raised buds. The stems are raised as well on both the creamer and open sugar. The top of the handle is engraved with the original owners initials. The bottom of both the creamer and sugar is hand hammered. The teapot is smooth -- not hand hammered.
The craftsmanship that Gorham was able to produce was beautiful. Gorham made some incredible one of a kind pieces during this period. This set follows that level of quality, and I would think that this is one of a kind. It is a wonderful example of American art and imagination.
Also, because of the smaller size, I wonder if it was created for a young girl as a teaching tool for her role later in life. The item "GORHAM Japanese Aesthetic Sterling Tea Set Hammered, Applied Insects & Fish" is in sale since Saturday, March 31, 2018. This item is in the category "Antiques\Periods & Styles\Art Nouveau". The seller is "cheeney" and is located in Richmond, Virginia. This item can be shipped to United States.