This bottle is unusual and beautiful, but I cannot tell you a whole lot about it. The only marks it has are on the bottom, which I am showing you closeup and in context in my fifth composite image. The marks are clear, and although you can read them yourself, I will just note that they are “SILVER DEPOSIT” followed by what is obviously the design number, “J 853.” Only once before did I have a bottle with markings like this—both and only these words and (other) numbers—and the silver work on that bottle was really different. As it happens, the other “J” design bottle I sold and this one have almost identical shapes, but I think that is a coincidence, since the markings are for the silver design, not the glass.
Because of my collecting interest and the large number of silver overlay items I own, some design numbers reveal their maker to me, even if the silver company’s name does not appear. The two I am most familiar with are “S” and “D,” both used by Gorham. Gorham’s other marks were sometimes left off of items meant to be sold to retail jewelers, who would put their own marks on the bottle. If you know who used a “J” in their design numbers, I hope you will let me know.
The other mark, “SILVER DEPOSIT,” is interesting to me. I associate that nomenclature with earlier-made silver overlay items. These days, many silver overlay collectors (myself NOT included ;-)) use the word “deposit” with some disdain, because to them it describes the kind of thin almost “painted on” silver overlay work one would find on, for example, kitchen wares from the ‘40s and ‘50s—very different in kind from the silver overlay collectors seek out from around the turn of the 20th century.
I typically associate the stamped word “DEPOSIT” with items not made later than the 1920s but maybe as early as the late 19th century (and I have no empirical or authoritative reason for choosing that time period ;-)), and this bottle, with its spectacular, organic Art Nouveau design would seem to fit right in with that period.
It helps if you remember that ALL silver overlay has been "deposited" by an electroplating process. The original Alvin 1886 patent uses that very word.
OK, enough history! In my more than 20 years of collecting silver overlay, I believe that only two or three times before, did I see a bottle like this, totally covered with silver, with no glass showing. I can’t recall the markings on those bottles; I just remember that I saw them and was struck by the unusual, all-silver overlay. Obviously the second (and perhaps third) bottles were less unusual to me because I had already seen the first one, but this kind of all-over coverage is extremely uncommon.
It was hard to photograph the bottle, and I hope I have succeeded in allowing you to see the spectacular chasing detail. Included, very subtly, as part of the detail, is the inscription, which, itself, is unusual. You would expect to see a bottle like this showing an inscription (if it had one at all instead of a monogram) from a husband to his wife on her birthday or their anniversary. This bottle was given by an UNCLE to his niece. Interestingly, the recipient’s name, “Lucile,” is fully spelled out, but the uncle is identified only by his initials, “H.P.”
Because the silver totally covers the bottle, even on the bottom, I can only tell you about what I can see, which is the inside of the collar, and a little bit of the inside of the bottle when I shine a light into it. There are no cracks or other indications of damage in the glass, and the silver has the typical scratches on the rim and bottom that you would associate with an item like this—the scratches on the rim are negligible; I have photographed them with extra contrast, but they are barely visible in person.
I think the only thing left is to tell you the dimensions. With stopper inserted, the bottle is about 4 3/8 inches tall. It is about 3 3/8 inches across the widest part of the bottom, and it weighs 15.2 ounces.
I hope I have covered everything you might want to know, which is everything I know, but please write if you have a question. This is a wonderful bottle, and it will be super addition to your collection—or the collection of someone you love.
N.B. THERE IS ANOTHER ALL-OVER SILVER OVERLAY PERFUME BOTTLE ON RUBY LANE. THE DESIGN ON THAT ONE IS NOT NEARLY AS NICE; IT IS SMALLER AND MUCH LIGHTER THAN THIS BOTTLE, BUT THE PRICE IS MUCH HIGHER!
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