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Griffin Smith & Hill - Etruscan Majolica Sunflower Syrup Pitcher - Circa 1885
Griffin Smith & Hill were a very well respected American company located in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania from approx. 1880-1890. They are credited with producing some of the most collectable American majolica made. Their designs were inspired by nature using flowers, ferns, vegetables, butterflies, sea shells, etc. The Shell and Seaweed pattern is their most famous, recognizable and, in my opinion, their loveliest design that was produced in a full line of dinnerware as well as a coffee and tea service. Most of their work is marked with one of the two versions of their hallmark. Their intertwined "GSH" or their intertwined "GSH" in a circle surrounded by a circular border containing "* ETRUSCAN * MAJOLICA".
Our syrup pitcher has the same design front and back. It is of a single large sunflower with it's leaves and stalk placed on a bumpy textured cobalt background. To fit in with the floral theme is a handle patterned as a branch. The pitcher is not just a straight up and down boring cylindrical shape but is done in a graceful cone with it's 1" bottom having a reversed angle. The pitcher then has pewter hardware with an interior pour spout and a curlicue pattern decor on the lid.
The majolica pitcher is in excellent condition with no cracks, large chips, nasty scratches or repairs. You can find a few spots of surface only chips on one side of the pitcher located almost entirely at the rim area of the reversed angle bottom. They range from 1/32" to the largest being 3/32" located at the base of a flower petal - see bottom half photo # 10. There are also two nicks to the base rim's edge that I am reporting to be accurate. The glaze is intact with no nasty surface abrasions. You do find all over crazing as is normal and expected due to the age and materials used in manufacture. Thru out the pitcher you can find occasional dark spots that appear to be impurities (viewed with a loupe) either originally in the glaze or acquired in the kiln, see top of photo # 10. In photo # 9 you can see an actual area of impurity spotting.
The pewter hardware has no cracks, dents, holes or repairs and it's hinge is all original. It is marked on the interior lid "PEERLESS" and around it's pour spout "LANG & LAUSTER" "PAT ???" and what appears to read "31187". Per my list of Patent No's 31187 was issued in 1885. I have seen a couple of these pitchers and their hardware is plain. So I don't know if this is a replacement from the proper time period or a deluxe option from GSH.
The pitcher stands 8 3/8" tall to the top of the finial, is approx. 4 1/2" at it's widest point and has a 3 1/8" dia. base. It contains the more elaborate GSH hallmark as seen in the photo. A super piece, approx. 130 years old, from a very collected and desirable company at a great price.
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