Extraordinary American Gilded Age Masterpieces Highlight Heritage Silver & Vertu Auction

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Yachting trophy, from collection of J.D. Parks, could bring $200,000

A Tiffany & Co. Silver Yachting Trophy
A Tiffany & Co. Silver Yachting Trophy

DALLAS, Texas (Oct. 19, 2020) – A 127-year-old silver mermaid-form yachting trophy headlines Heritage Auctions’ Silver & Vertu Auction of American Presentation and Trophy Silver from the Collection of J.D. Parks Nov. 17.

J.D. Parks was introduced to collecting by his father, and his interest grew into a passion that yielded 102 of the 337 lots in this auction.

“Parks’ collection is captivating, each trophy and presentation piece telling a unique story, helping to unfold the rich history of late 19th century America,” Heritage Auctions Silver & Decorative Art Director Karen Rigdon said. “The Gilded Age provided the frame work for American silversmiths to excel. Their clientele was immensely wealthy, technological developments birthed creative expression, silver was plentiful and increasingly inexpensive, and among many other factors, nostalgia played a part in marking moments in time with silver. The climate was right, and American silversmiths excelled. Those who win these lots will have the opportunity to acquire, share and continue the history of these remarkable pieces.”

Parks was introduced to silver and mentored by the Atlanta-based silver dealer Michael Weaver. Initially drawn to English 18th and 19th century silver, Parks delved increasingly into the unique history of each piece, focusing on the events and the patrons who commissioned presentation silver, and on the families and individuals honored in their engravings.

While visiting a renowned antiques dealer in Nashville, Parks was challenged to consider American silver, but continued as he had until he saw a dramatic American silver urn-shaped vase with bifurcated chimera-form handles, draped with a wreath of laurel leaves in a 2005 auction. Parks won the vase; shortly thereafter, he loaned it to an upcoming exhibition at the Flagler Museum: Tiffany Silver at the Columbian Exposition, curated by John Blades from the museum and Tiffany & Co. Design Director John Loring. Parks learned the Tiffany & Co. Silver Yachting Trophy: Goelet Cup, New York, 1893 (estimate: $150,000-200,000) had been displayed at the Columbia Exposition, the great world fair in Chicago in 1893, and that it was historically important because it had been made by Tiffany & Co., the most important of 19th century silver producers.

It is inscribed “Goelet Cup 1892.” Ogden Goelet, a wealthy Gilded Age New York City landowner (second only to the Astors) and yachtsman, commissioned two cups each year for the annual races in August off the coast of Newport, Rhode Island, held during the New York Yacht Club cruise. This cup is one in a series of cups commissioned  by Goelet from 1883 until his death in 1897.   

Tiffany & Co. Partial Gilt Silver Punch Bowl and Ladle Driving Trophy, New York, 1881 (estimate: $120,000-160,000) includes an acid-etched portrait of Alexander Taylor within horseshoe cartouche, flanked by engraved images of trotters a sulky carriage, and pairs of horse heads mimicking the sport, and a double-domed base with applied alternating horseshoe and grape vine pattern. Taylor was interested in “gentlemanly” sports, including horse racing; in 1881, he helped friends restore the racecourse at Fleetwood Park and formed the Gentleman’s Driving Park Association for men who owned trotting horses. In September 1881, the association gave a dinner in Taylor’s honor, at which he was presented with this punch bowl.

The Parks collection also includes, but is not limited to:

Tiffany & Co. Silver Yachting Trophy: Newport Citizens Cup , New York, 1887 (estimate: $80,000-120,000)

Tiffany & Co. Yachting Trophy: Astor Cup , New York, 1893 (estimate: $80,000-90,000)

A Tiffany & Co. Silver Yachting Trophy: Goelet Cup , New York, 1892 (estimate: $75,000-100,000)

A Gorham Mfg. Co. Silver Horse Racing Trophy: The Horseman Cup, Providence, Rhode Island, 1894  (estimate: $50,000-70,000)

Tiffany & Co. Silver Mounted Ivory Trophy Tankard, New York, 1898-1902 (estimate: $50,000-70,000)

For information and images of all lots in the auction, visit HA.com/8015.

Heritage Auctions is the largest fine art and collectibles auction house founded in the United States, and the world’s largest collectibles auctioneer. Heritage maintains offices in New York, Dallas, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Chicago, Palm Beach, London, Paris, Geneva, Amsterdam and Hong Kong.

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