Dominick & Haff Sterling Centerpiece and Platter
In all likelihood the Dominick & Haff sterling silver centerpiece and platter that are our museum feature this month were designed to be used separately as a centerpiece and serving platter, but we couldn’t resist photographing the two together to show what a spectacular effect that would have on any table! (The centerpiece is 14 1/2 inches in diameter and 6 inches tall. The platter is 18 1/2 inches long and 14 3/4 inches wide.)
The pierced floral design edges of these exquisitely crafted sterling silver museum pieces literally blend into air, bound organically to the bodies of the centerpiece and platter by intricate leaf and scroll designs. Our curators have not yet located a name for this pattern, but the stamp confirms the silver maker as Dominick & Haff. Three interlinked geometric designs were most often the signature marks on Dominick & Haff pieces. The “925” indicates that the pieces are 92.5 percent pure silver, the number “1897” indicates the year the pieces were made.
Another stamp on the backs of the pieces is that of the Bailey Banks & Biddle Company, a well-known American retailer that opened its first store in 1832 on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, PA. In 1904 “The Philadelphia Press” noted that the company was “the oldest business of its line in the United States.” The Bailey Banks & Biddle mark bears the numbers “925” over “1000,” another method of indicating that the pieces are 92.5 percent pure silver. Since the Bailey, Banks & Biddle Company’s mark is on these pieces, it is likely that Dominick & Haff produced them exclusively for that retailer to carry in its stores, a practice silver makers and retailers often employed to enhance sales, calling attention to the exclusivity of the wares.
Dominick & Haff was established by H. Blanchard Dominick, a descendant of George Dominick, French Huguenot, who came to America in 1740, and Leroy B. Haff, who first entered the silversmithing business in 1867, joining the retail department of William Gale & Son, silversmiths established in New York in 1821. In their early days Dominick and Haff devoted themselves to the manufacture of relatively small pieces. They were renowned for the quality of their vinaigrettes, chatelaines, and other fancy articles. Following a disastrous fire in 1877, Dominick & Haff moved to a new factory and began to manufacture a wide array of articles in silver, small and large. The sequence of firm names upon Dominick’s entering the silver business is complex. Gale & North (1860) became Gale, North & Dominick (1868); then Gale, Dominick & Haff (1870); Dominick & Haff (1872); and Dominick & Haff, Inc. (1889). Finally, Dominick & Haff, Inc., was sold to Reed & Barton in 1928, and consolidated within that firm.
While the Dominick & Haff sterling silver centerpiece and platter in our Museum are not for sale, Replacements, Ltd. carries sterling silver, silverplate, gold electroplate, stainless steel, and pewter flatware from a fantastic array of manufacturers. Be sure to browse our web site. And remember that we always invite you to visit our facilities! Here you’ll find a stunning variety of silver, china, crystal, and collectibles! Our Showroom and Museum are open from 9:00am to 7:00pm ET, 7 days a week (except holidays); 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. We look forward to seeing you!
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