Gorham “Martelé” Tea & Coffee Service, ca. 1900

Value (2010) | $90,000 Insurance
Watch  

GUEST:
This is a tea service set. My mom had it on a sideboard in the dining room growing up. The only thing that I really know about it is that it came from an elderly woman that she befriended. The woman kind of looked at my mom as a daughter because she didn't have any children. My mom worked at a private school up in Connecticut, and supposedly the woman's house was one of the original houses on the campus and that's how they became friends. And my mom loved to entertain and the woman gave it to her, and she... my mom used this entertaining.

APPRAISER:
What do you think it's made of?

GUEST:
It looks like silver. It's heavy. I have no idea whether, you know, there's silver plate. I have no idea. My mom said that, you know, it might be Tiffany, but looking at the bottom, there's no "Tiffany."

APPRAISER:
First off, sterling. And it's not Tiffany. It's made by one of Tiffany's best competitors, and that was a firm by the name of Gorham.

GUEST:
Okay, oh yeah.

APPRAISER:
And Gorham is from Providence, Rhode Island.

GUEST:
Oh, okay.

APPRAISER:
Around 1895, when the Art Nouveau movement starts coming alive, Gorham looks at some of its chief designers and says, "Hey, we've got to get some of that cool stuff, too." And there was a man named William Christmas Codman, who they assigned a very special task to. And the task was, "Get the finest designers "that you can find, finest craftsmen you can find, and we want to make a new line of silver." And that new line of silver was called Martelé. And that is what is written on the bottom.

GUEST:
Yeah, okay.

APPRAISER:
On the bottom, it has here "Martelé." And the Martelé symbol and the symbol it has with Gorham symbolized that it was a very important line of silver. There are three small letters. Each piece was individually tracked by Gorham in a book called the " Martelé Book." And the Martelé Book actually says, sometimes, who it was made for, whether or not it was a special piece, a salesman's piece. This is probably made sometime between about 1898 and about 1905. And the reason we know this is because around that time period, there's a great deal of interest in organic forms. Each piece was handcrafted. It took about 140 hours to make a coffee pot.

GUEST:
Oh, my goodness.

APPRAISER:
All one of a kind.

GUEST:
You're kidding.

APPRAISER:
Which was very interesting. Each piece is hand hammered, and that's where the term " Martelé " comes from. Martelé, from the French verb meaning "to hammer." And they say it's like the softy mist of a hammer. So each piece was gently hammered out. You notice there's not a lot of ornamentation to it. It's a little restrained. But that was the whole theory behind Martelé was. It was natural; ornamentation took a back seat to form and function. You got the whole kit and caboodle here. This was always meant to be a single set with tray and all six pieces.

GUEST:
And what is this?

APPRAISER:
Oh, these are ivory insulators so you don't burn your hands when you pick up the pot.

GUEST:
Okay, that's interesting.

APPRAISER:
See, it's on the hot pots.

GUEST:
Yeah, yeah.

APPRAISER:
Tea pot, coffee pot, hot water kettle.

GUEST:
And then why are those two different colors inside?

APPRAISER:
That's actually a gilded interior. This is a creamer. This one's a creamer. Here's your covered sugar.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
That's for the loose tea.

GUEST:
Interesting, okay.

APPRAISER:
Because in these days you banged out your loose tea in the waste bowl. What do you think it's worth?

GUEST:
I kind of came in here thinking maybe it's like $10,000.

APPRAISER:
For insurance purposes, I would put $90,000 on this.

GUEST:
You've got to be kidding.

APPRAISER:
I am not kidding you.

GUEST:
Oh, my gosh. I never would have guessed that. Whoo-hoo! That's amazing. That is amazing. That's incredible.

APPRAISER:
It's a beautiful set. Nicest set I've seen.

GUEST:
Really?

APPRAISER:
Yeah.

GUEST:
You made my day. We're getting a big bottle of wine then tonight.

APPRAISER:
Sweet.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Marvin & Whitehurst Appraisal Group
Stuart, Florida
Appraised value (2010)
$90,000 Insurance
Event
Washington, DC (August 21, 2010)
Material
Silver

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