10-03-2009 10-03-2009
Skinner Auctions
Skinner Auctions Boston MA
2475 Boston
October 3, 2009 10:00 AMCalender

William Gale for Tiffany & Co. Five Piece Sterling Presentation Tea and Coffee Service

Auction: European Furniture & Decorative Arts - 2475 Location: Boston Date / Time: October 03, 2009 10:00AM


William Gale for Tiffany & Co. Five Piece Sterling Presentation Tea and Coffee Service , c. 1863, comprising baluster form coffeepot, teapot, kettle on stand with burner, covered sugar, and lidded milk jug, all chased and embossed all over with dense ivy vines on stippled ground, with crabstock handles, beaded rims, each with two roundel reserves to sides of body, one engraved with presentation inscription dated 1863, coffeepot ht. 12 3/8 in., approx. 175 troy oz.

Note: Inscription reads "Presented to Brig. Gen. Egbert L. Viele, Military Governor of Norfolk, Virginia, by the loyal citizens as a mark of their respect and esteem, July 4th 1863." Egbert Ludovicus Viele (1825-1902), a native New Yorker, graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point on July 1, 1847. He served in the Second United States Infantry during the Mexican-American War. In 1853 he became a civil and military engineer, and was appointed State Engineer of New Jersey in 1855. He undertook a topographical survey of the state, and also surveyed the area which later became Central Park. After the state chose a design for Central Park from Olmsted & Vaux, Viele was appointed engineer-in-chief in 1856 to oversee its build out. At the time of the Civil War, Viele served in the Engineer Corps of the Seventh New York Regiment in 1860, and in the United States Volunteers in 1861. He went on to command troops on the Savannah River during the siege of Fort Pulaski and was soon after appointed Military Governor of Norfolk, Virginia, in 1862. In October, 1863 he left the service to return to civil engineering. In 1865 Viele published an important map of New York titled Sanitary and Topographical Atlas of the City and Island of New York. In this map Viele surveyed original wetlands and coastlines of New York City, and put them in context over the street plan. This map is still referenced by engineers and city planners today. Viele later served a term as the Commissioner of parks for New York City, and as a Democrat in the Forty-ninth Congress.

It is intriguing to imagine that then Brigadier General Viele's thoughts must have been with his colleagues, and former West Point alumni, while his was receiving this tea and coffee service from the citizens of Norfolk on July 4, 1863. That very day is considered the most pivotal single day in the history of the Civil War, with the Confederacy suffering two of its worst defeats. On July 4, 1863, not only did a badly defeated Lee retreat from Gettysburg after three bloody days of battle, but General Pemberton surrendered to General Grant at the fall of Vicksburg. The South never fully rallied from these two massive defeats.

Estimate $8,000-10,000

machine polished (especially to the unengraved roundels at body), and with some dents repaired by Tiffany & Co. c. 1980. Coffeepot with slight dent to finial. Kettle missing one pin attaching it to stand, and burner unmarked and lacking lid. minor light usage wear.
Tiffany & Co.
G 8573 G
English Sterling 925-1000
550 Broadway


Egbert L. Viele, Tiffany & Co., Norfolk, Coffee Service, Virginia, United States Military Academy, William Gale, Military Governor, Brig. Gen., 4th of July, Second United States Infantry, civil and military engineer, State Engineer, State Engineer of New Jersey, Central Park, engineer, Seventh New York Regiment, Engineer Corps, Fort Pulaski, Savannah River, Island of New York, New York City, Congress, Commissioner, Brigadier General, Lee retreat