The celebrated porcelain dinner and dessert service, with flowers by Albert Gregory and rich gilding by George William Darlington, was one of the most expensive services ever made at Derby.
Numbering more than 400 pieces, it was commissioned in 1903 by Tiffany & Co, New York, for Judge Elbert H Gary (1846-1927).The Illinois lawyer, county judge, financier and corporate officer is best remembered as a founder of US Steel, along with JP Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, and Charles Schwab. The steel mill city of Gary, Indiana takes his name.
Gary’s tastes were famously ostentatious, and he chose a design that evoked the great French porcelain services of the ancien regime. It was meant to compliment a 566-piece solid gold service which Gary also commissioned from Tiffany.
Derby took several years to fulfil the order, with most pieces dated 1907-10. The service remained in the family until it was sold at Sotheby’s, New York, in October 1998 in eight lots. Since then, numerous pieces have appeared for sale piecemeal.
The sauceboat and stand offered at Bellmans is possibly unique. It has impressed marks for 1908. It sold online for £5500, more than double its low estimate, followed by a pair of small plates at £4500 (estimate £1000-1500) and a goose egg cup at £480 (£150-250).
Leading this West Sussex sale at a surprise £20,000 (estimate £1000-2000) was a pair of 18th century rococo giltwood armchairs – probably of English rather than European manufacture.
Although clearly ‘as found’ and requiring complete reupholstery and some regilding, they were in largely original condition and promise to restore well.