This fabulous piece of antique Gorham sterling is cast in the form of a naturalistic olive branch complete with an olive and leaves. It is so stunning my first reaction was a gasp.
The elongated bowl of the spoon is part of the casting and is decorated with hand engraving to look like an olive leaf with hand cut piercing where the veins of the leaf would be.
The applied, cast olive is elegantly smooth with a beautiful matte finish while the leaves are hand engraved.
The cast spear, or fork, looks like some kind of crazy dragon-tail. It is segmented and its stepped, angular shape anticipates Art Deco design in an uncanny way.
The entire piece is gilded and simply glows, soft and warm. It is just beautiful, a perfect melding of art, craft, and function. And NO MONOGRAMS, which are usually applied to the large olive itself!
CONDITION is grand and completely original. It is pictured in the Gorham catalogs of 1886 - 1890 called an "Olive Spoon and Fork." There is almost no wear to the gilding, just the tiniest peek of silver on a couple of high points on the cast branch. The piece is fully marked with the right-facing-lion, anchor, and Gorham marks. It is also marked "Sterling," and is impressed with the style number "267." Measures 11 3/4" long overall, with the olive itself sans leaf measuring a plump 1 1/4" long.
These cast, Gorham Aesthetic Movement pieces are highly sought after, and there are not many in this fine and original condition. An identical MONOGRAMMED piece was recently sold at a well known online silver house at a higher price, and another with a bent "stem," badly scratched "olive," and significant wear to the gilding was sold at a Texas auction recently for nearly $1200. The condition of this piece is near to dreamy pristine perfection, and they are snapped up whenever they come to market.
Olives have recently regained their culinary self-respect, escaping from bottles and cans leaving their sodden little pimento tongues behind. They have emerged in remarkable variety and are now readily available even in conventional supermarkets. I favor big, beautiful, bright green Cerignola olives, native to south-eastern Italy; but I'm sure you have your own favorites.
You will look long and hard to find another of these remarkable, antique Gorham pieces in such great condition, that is if you can find one at all. This one's a keeper. Treat yourself.