This fabulous 50-piece flatware service in French vermeil (18k or 22k gold on silver) includes a 24-piece entremet (first course) for twelve with six serving pieces, a matching set of fruit knives with grape scissors, PLUS a gorgeous SHELL form fruit and ice cream service to match! The pattern is classical Louis XVI style with its wrapped ribbons and bows, music trophy and shells.
The set of shell-form custard or ice cream spoons and accompanying fruit and berry serving spoon is absolutely stunning! Other serving pieces include two ladles for sauces and whipped cream, a large pair of salad servers, a tart server with music trophy and the grape scissors. It is so rare to find such a varied set, still largely intact after a hundred years! Combined, you have pieces for the first course and for salad, fruit and dessert courses. And no monograms! Total silver weight over 4 1/2 pounds or 2,074 grams (4.57 lbs., 66.68 troy oz. or 5.56 troy lbs.)
Only the finest vermeil was gilded over the finest grade of silver, .950 (purer than sterling), as this set was. Each piece in this set bears the French Minerve I guarantee mark for the finest standard of silver in the world, at .950 (purer than sterling's .925.); plus the maker's mark for master goldsmith, Charles Barrier (Saglier successor), who traded at 7 rue Réaumur, Paris, from July 1905 to July 1923.
Vermeil was typically used together with the sterling flatware sets in France. It was very practical for the fruit, salad and dessert courses, since the gold would not be harmed by acidic foods in the way that silver would be. This is a particularly versatile set because it has so many kinds of pieces for just about every imaginable use! It can even be used for the main course, if you like, since the spoons and forks are of a size similar to our American luncheon size, which many use for dinner as well. While available, we have beautiful sets of vermeil and ivory knives, sold separately. For those who prepare a traditional French dinner, this set would be an excellent accompaniment to one of our silver sets of "grand couverts," the large French dinner-size spoons and forks, bringing it up to five courses.
Details: 12 spoons (entremet) c. 7 1/8 in. (18 cm.), 567 grams; 12 forks (entremet) c. 7 1/8 in. (18 cm.), 533 grams; 10 knives w/steel blades (entremet or fruit) c. 7 3/8 in. (18.8 cm.), 306 grams; 9 shell-form dessert or fruit spoons c. 5 in. (12.5 cm), 159 grams; 1 shell-form berry or dessert serving spoon c. 7 5/8 in. (19.5 cm.), 57 grams; 1 pie or tart server c. 11 in. (28 cm.), 108 grams; 1 pair salad servers c. 10 1/4 in. (26 cm), 156 grams; 1 sauce ladle c. 7 1/8 in. (18 cm), 92 grams; 1 sugar spoon c. 5 1/2 in. (14 cm.),28 grams; 1 grape scissors c. 7in. (18 cm.) 68 grams.
Setting aside the fruit knives for the moment, the rest of the set is in excellent condition, with the original gilding in great condition. (Please pardon my couple of over-exposed photos.) Only the gilding on one spoon, the tart server, cream ladle and grape scissors shows wear to the gold.
The knives appear never to have been gilded. The early steel knife blades and blades of the grape scissors will need some professional polishing, or the blades can simply be replaced, if desired.
Altogether this is a wonderful old flatware service of French vermeil, ready to use. A splendid addition to a collection of French silver and sure to impress!
Item ID: 1007-026
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17th, 18th, 19th C European Antiques & Art: French Silver, Continental Porcelain & Faience