Skinner Auctions
Skinner AuctionsBoston MA
March 3, 2013 10:00 AMCalender

Sterling Silver Presentation Punch Bowl Commemorating the Opening of the F.W. Woolworth Building in New York City in 1913

Sell one like this
Auction: American Furniture & Decorative Arts - 2640BLocation: BostonDate / Time: March 03, 2013 10:00AM


Sterling Silver Presentation Punch Bowl Commemorating the Opening of the F.W.Woolworth Building in New York City in 1913, Tiffany & Co., makers, New York, large, round, footed bowl with notched rim over a band with raised inscription in gold: "Presented to Cass Gilbert by Frank W. Woolworth as a Mark of Appreciation at the Formal Opening of the Woolworth Building on the 24th of April 1913," over a border of alternating large and small pendant trefoils intercepted with a shield-shaped reserve with the raised gold monogram "CG" and ornamented with scrolled anthemion leaves, the bowl interior is centered with a chased depiction of the F.W. Woolworth building in its setting with surrounding buildings and trees, all supported on a round molded base, impressed maker's marks on base, ht. 9 5/8, dia. 17 in., approx. 222 troy oz.

Note: Sold together with the bowl is a book produced as a record and souvenir of the gala held to open the Woolworth Building on April 24, 1913. Among the records included therein are transcripts of remarks made by Woolworth and Gilbert, complete guest lists, menus, and portraits of figures involved with the building's construction. It is enclosed in a custom-made clamshell box.

Note: Few pieces of design excited the early modern American imagination like Cass Gilbert's skyscraper for F.W. Woolworth. Built in Manhattan as the tallest building in the world (792 feet tall),it literally pushed to new heights the frontiers of modern engineering and design. Referring to Woolworth's success as a five-and-dime magnate, the New York Times would later call the building "the skyscraper built by the nickels of millions." The 20th century archetype for the American Dream started his first shop with a few borrowed and saved dollars; by the time he commissioned Gilbert to design his corporate headquarters, he was personally worth many millions. Fittingly, the Woolworth Building has often been called a Cathedral of Commerce, and its design represented a uniquely American combination: Old World Gothic finery adorning a New World engineering marvel.

When its doors officially opened and the electric lights were turned on by President Wilson on April 25, 1913, the Woolworth Building hosted a legendary dinner, a grand affair which culminated in F.W. Woolworth's presentation of this sterling silver punch bowl to his lauded architect, Cass Gilbert. If the Woolworth building was the brash celebration of the Woolworth fortune, the Cass Gilbert presentation bowl was its genteel précis. It distilled the soaring exuberance of the world's tallest skyscraper into an elegant statement of superlative design. In its arrangement and execution, the artists of Tiffany & Co. summarized Cass Gilbert's architectural opus by isolating elements of neo-Gothic ornament for the bowl's rim, combining delicate detail of with the clean, modern lines of the bowl's silhouette and surface. Inside, an engraved image of the Woolworth building appears on the bottom of the bowl, transforming the scale of the monumental structure into an image with the delicacy of a portrait miniature.

Estimate $30,000-50,000

Two very small dings in bowl; light scratches scattered across surface.

The absence of a condition statement does not imply that the lot is in perfect condition or completely free from wear and tear, imperfections or the effects of aging. Condition requests can be obtained via email (lot inquiry button) or by telephone to the appropriate gallery location (Boston/617.350.5400 or Marlborough/508.970.3000). Any condition statement given, as a courtesy to a client, is only an opinion and should not be treated as a statement of fact. Skinner Inc. shall have no responsibility for any error or omission.


Woolworth Building, Cass Gilbert, Frank W. Woolworth, F.W. Woolworth building, Tiffany & Co., New York City, the New York Times, lauded architect, President, Wilson