James W. Tufts' Victorian napkin ring of a standing Greek barrel maker displaying his craft by carrying his barrel. The piece is magnificently detailed, down to the individual strands of his work rope, the folds of his clothing and realistic depiction of his face and hands holding the barrel. It stands a large 4 5/8 inches tall, 2 3/4 inches wide and is 2 1/2 inch in diameter at the base and has only been lightly hand polished. We have had it for quite some time and previously examined it under magnification, so when we bumped up the magnification for our final inspections, we were quite surprised to find 'Emma' appearing softly blending among the foliage at the top of the barrel as it is not easily seen. Yes, a monogram, almost as if intentional hidden there and most likely it was too! The Victorians loved surprises of this kind! Being of the age to have had them for Grand Parents; I still remember, first hand, all the "gotchas" they seemed to love to tease us with as youngsters! The Greek barrel man is not an uncommon figural form for Mr. Tufts. He used the barrel maker frequently in his pieces, the napkin holder form however seems to be have been used much less frequently and napkin holder we see the least of all. (L2603)
James Walker Tufts (1835 – 1902) the designer and producer of this beautiful piece was a well known silversmith, who if history bears truth, opened his business in Boston in 1875. He also founded the Arctic Soda Fountain Co., that eventually merged with several other companies to form the American Soda Fountain Co. He had apprenticed at age of 16 to a drug store and rose to become a wealth business man, eventually after all the a fore mentioned accomplishments, he had the vision to build a "health resort for people of modest means" and with his own money purchased 500 acres initially and later 5500 acres more to build Pinehurst, NC (you know this city, of the famous resort and golf courses) from the ground up! Much more then a silversmith, I'd say.
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~JAMES W TUFTS 1517 ~ c.1880's Napkin Ring ~ Greek Barrel Man~