Featured Museum Piece
Museum Feature – Spectacular Sterling Centerpieces – J.R. Wendt
This month, we are very excited to feature not one but two spectacular sterling silver centerpieces from J. R. Wendt and Company. Each of these gorgeous sterling centerpieces are inspired by the beauty of nature. Both have a solid foot, elongated center support, and a bowl suitable for the display of flowers or fruit.
The first of these unique bowls is from the J. R. Wendt pattern entitled Bird. Amazingly sculpted, the piece stands 18" high and is 14 3/4" wide. Weighing more than 84 troy ounces, this centerpiece has a base with a polished satin finish that is adorned with a stylized acorn. A strawberry vine rises playfully from the base to support a small, very lifelike bird’s nest that contains three eggs. The outside of the stem is done with several more acorns and the inside of the bowl for this piece is finished in gold wash.
The piece de resistance for this sterling sculpture are two intricately crafted hummingbirds on the side of each piece. Each bird has wings spread and looks to be coming in for a landing on the leaf and vine accent on either side of the bowl. Our hollowware specialists have valued this piece at more than $48,000.00.
The second of these two centerpieces is derived from a verdant calla lily motif. This piece is made in similar fashion to the Bird centerpiece and has a round base with a satin finish. A cluster of three calla lilies forms the stem of this 16 ¼" tall piece of silver art. The bowl is oval shaped, with interior gold wash, and has two scroll handles that are adorned with calla lilies, from which protrude large leaves and garland bows. This centerpiece weighs more than 59 troy ounces and is 13" at it widest point. It is valued at more than $18,000.00. We believe both centerpieces were produced sometime around 1870 although we have been unable to determine exact dates.
Calla Lily Motif Centerpiece
John Wendt found J. R. Wendt in New York City 1855. In 1859, his firm opened a shop at the intersection of Broadway and Prince Streets above the Ball, Black, and Co. Jewelry Store. At the time, this was the largest jewelry store in America. J. R. Wendt and Company produced stunning works of sterling art while also working on jewelry orders from the store below. The company was open during some of the most turbulent years in American history, including a time when economic and social conditions were leading the United States to a bloody civil war. J. R. Wendt and Company would remain in business during the war and through the reconstruction of the South.
Calla Lily Detail
The “Encyclopedia of American Silver Manufacturers” indicates that during its brief history, J. R. Wendt and Company was the “most prominent maker of flatware in the country.” When John Wendt decided to sell his business, he sold it in two parts. The famed Whiting Manufacturing Company, featured in prior editions of this newsletter, purchased half the company while Dominick and Haff (also featured here) purchased the remaining part of the business.
We heartily encourage you to come to our facilities and see these amazing pieces in our museum. While these particular pieces are not offered for sale, we have an amazing selection of hollowware just as exciting that is for sale. Picture gobs of sterling in all shapes and forms to satisfy every taste and budget. It’s intoxicating. Our Showroom and Museum are open from 9:00am to 7:00pm ET, 7 days a week; free tours are available from 10:00am to 6:00pm ET, 7 days a week. The Showroom and Museum are conveniently located between Greensboro and Burlington, NC, at exit 132 off Interstate 85/40. Make plans to visit us soon!
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