Collection Corner: A Sterling Homecoming
Some of you may have recently visited the Callaway family home at Hills & Dales and seen a brilliant addition, front and center, on the credenza in the dining room. After many years spent with another member of the Callaway family, the seven-piece sterling silver tea service once again graces its original domain, looking very much at home.
Each piece of the set is marked underneath with the maker’s mark of the William B. Durgin division of the Gorham Manufacturing Company, Concord, New Hampshire, Number A 1822M and bears the date mark for 1930. Alice and Fuller were married in 1930, so the service was surely a wedding gift.
The William B. Durgin Company was a noted American silver manufacturer based in Concord, NH, and was one of the largest for flatware and hollowware in the United States. In the early 20th century, it merged with Gorham Manufacturing Company and later moved to Providence, RI. The Durgin mark is a crown on top of a shield or crest, which has the letter ‘D’ in the center.
Six pieces of the tea service – teapot, coffeepot, hot water kettle with stand and spirit lamp, cream jug, covered sugar bowl, and waste bowl – sit on a matching tray. These pieces are chased with garland swags and bellflowers, centering an engraved gothic initial C. The spouts and upswept handles have applied acanthus leaves, and the fluted covers are surmounted with ovoid ivory finials. The oval tray also has those chased and engraved features. Like so many lovely floral-themed objects in Alice and Fuller Callaway’s home, such as lamps, rugs, fabric, china, and paintings, it is no surprise that the silver service is also decorated with garland and flowers.
Visitors to the estate often stop to admire the silver set, with its intricate detail and high luster, and always ask, “How often do you have to polish all that silver?” Well, to quote the great Bob Dylan, “Behind every beautiful thing, there is some kind of pain.” -SD