Freeman’s Silver & Objets de Vertu department is pleased to offer a fine and rare gold-inlaid sterling silver tea service made by Tiffany & Company in its upcoming sale on May 18. The set was a special commission that was presented to philanthropist W. Alton Jones and which has descended in the family to the present owner. As a depression-era investor in Tiffany & Co., it is likely that this service was given to Jones as a gift for his contribution to the company.
William Alton Jones (1891-1962) was a philanthropist, businessman, and personal friend to President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Jones was president of Cities Service Company, now called CITGO, from 1940 to 1953. He was influential during World War II, responsible for producing dynamite production plants and aviation fuel refineries, among other fundamental contributions. Jones was killed tragically in an airplane crash while on his way to join President Eisenhower on a fishing trip in 1962. Following his death, his family gave his private hunting and fishing retreat to the University of Rhode Island, eventually forming the W. Alton Jones Campus. Jones also started a charitable foundation, the W. Alton Jones Foundation, which funded environmental causes and supported the arts until its dissolution in 2001.
This complete and elaborate tea and coffee service comprises a hot water kettle on stand, teapot, coffee pot, milk pot, covered sugar, creamer, waste bowl, and twin-handled tray; each piece is of octagonal form with stylized foliate motifs finely inlaid in gold. As a firm both legendary and prolific, Tiffany & Co. produced numerous sterling silver tea services -- but there has not been a similar sterling silver and gold-inlaid service offered at auction in decades.
Lot 90: Fine and rare sterling silver and gold-inlaid tea and coffee service, Tiffany & Co., New York, NY, circa 1929. Sold for $21,250 on 5/18/16.