Absolutely magnificent & rare complete antique French PUIFORCAT hallmarked 48pc sterling silver & vermeil (18K gold on sterling silver) flatware set including larger dinner sized pieces and vermeil dessert or luncheon sizes, all with a gorgeous ornate pattern and beautifully kept in the original black leatherette storage and/or presentation chest! Amazing! Add some knives and you're set. PUIFORCAT, the pinnacle of French silver really and among a handful of names that are recognizable the world over. A long, lauded history of only the finest of the fine and silversmiths to royalty over the years. Now owned by Hermes of Paris, a name & reputation that also needs no explanation. All pieces bear the post 1878 French Minerve or Minerva hallmark, the tiny number "1" within those marks means they're in .950 silver (95% pure and higher than the .925 standard for 'sterling' silver). The silversmith marks are, of course, for world renowned House of Puiforcat (EP, Emile Puiforcat), Paris circa late 1800s. All kept in the original chest, it also bears the same "FS" monogram on the brass handle. Exceptional, rare! Enjoy!
Very good condition. Some tarnish visible in the ornate scrolling foliate pattern, sorry :). There is some light surface scuffing, indicative of light use, and also a bit of wear to the vermeil on the raised decoration (in places). Overall superb with no dents, damage or repairs to note. See pictures for all weights and measurements.
A bit about French sterling flatware and the Heritage (with capital H) and Traditions (with capital T) that help define it as the best in the world:
A traditional wedding gift, these magnificent French sterling silver flatware sets were almost always packaged without knives. Why is this? Another French tradition has to do with the gift of knives or a knife as a symbol of the cutting or ending of a relationship. And no where on earth is tradition more important, perhaps, than to the French culture. So, in light of the symbolism of the gift, knives were not part of a wedding gift, not packaged or even usually made with the matching pattern of the forks, spoons in a set, and are something added later and as compliments to the table's sterling silver choice. And ever the center influence in fashion, this also opportuned the happy result of knives made in coordinating and complimenting fashion with handles of rich elegant mother of pearl, fine ivory, blond natural horn, or exotic hardwoods like ebony (a French Empire 'must') walnut, rosewood. The result is that you can add sets of knives to compliment and define your table setting.
More about knives: Louis XIV, A renaissance man if ever there were one, The Sun King - builder of Versailles, was also the man responsible for the design of the modern table knife. Prior to his time, knives used at table were similar to knives used to kill game, fight wars, and possibly kill Kings. There was a time when knives were even banned from table for such intrigues, and it was Louis XIV's table upon which the blunt and rounded tip knives for dining were introduced to the world at large. A side note: With the massive size of the dinner fork and spoon in French sterling, one need not look to the knife as a weapon - as one of my customers once suggested, and I paraphrase here here: These things are heavy enough to kill a guest if thrown. She is correct - they weigh in nearly double the large tablespoon of, say, the equivalent set made in America by Gorham or Whiting - "Lily", which tablespoon is more closely in line size and weight-wise with the entremet spoon in French flatware
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Antique French sterling silver, Georgian jewelry, sewing, Black Forest, etc 17th to 19th c. European
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