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George III Silver Epergne by Thomas Pitts
- This grand George III-period silver epergne was crafted by London silversmith Thomas Pitts
- Few nine-basket epergnes such as this were ever crafted, and most have no more than five baskets
- Epergnes have been a lasting symbol of dining elegance and social status for over 300 years
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Because of the incredible expense of creating these large, ornate works in sterling, very few were designed. . .
Because of the incredible expense of creating these large, ornate works in sterling, very few were designed with more than five baskets, and nine-basket epergnes are among the rarest of all silver creations. Pitts crafted only a handful of these nine-basket epergnes for his wealthiest clients; a similar epergne by Pitts resides in London's Victoria & Albert Museum.
An epergne is a dining table centerpiece, usually of silver, comprised of a central bowl and four or more dishes held by radiating branches, and used to serve pickles, fruits, nuts, sweetmeats and other small delicacies. These multi-purpose pieces were meant to facilitate a new dining style known as service à la française where guests helped themselves, rather than being served by butlers or footmen. According to several sources, the epergne, a word derived from the French "epaigner," meaning thrifty, arrived in England in the first quarter of the 18th century. In England, epergnes were called “Save Alls,” noting the servants' work saved by having items within arm’s reach on the table.
Hallmarked London, 1772
20 1/2“ wide x 21 1/2” deep x 16“ high