NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA--Every Friday we team up with the Historic New Orleans Collection to bring you something unique from our city's past. Black Friday is now behind us, but the rush is on to find the perfect gifts to go under the tree. One group of men in history found the perfect gift to give the man who had everything.
The collection of gift givers were gifting to the collector of the customs house in New Orleans, Francis Hatch.
Lydia Blackmore, the decorative arts curator for the Historic New Orleans Collection says, Hatch was appointed to customs house collector in 1858 by president James Buchanan. "As the collector of the customs house, he managed all of the goods coming in to New Orleans and all of the wonderful things coming out of New Orleans," says Blackmore.
The men decided on a custom silver set by Bernard Terfloth & C. Christian Kuchler, two German men who were notable for making some of the best silver around. They worked for a very short while; right at the peak of New Orleans commerce and stopping right before the civil war.
Blackmore delights in historical artifacts that intended for human use and also in silver. For her, there is simply no match to the silver service for Hatch. She says, "this piece really is the best piece of New Orleans silver. Its the best piece by Bernard Terfloth & C. Christian Kuchler and it's really one of the best sets out here. I really should be saying arguably the best but this is an amazing work of art."
In 1861 civil war broke out. Hatch becomes the commissioner of the customs for the Confederate States of America, overseeing the might of an agricultural force. The silver set portrays such an agricultural force.
"So the biggest piece in the set is a hot water urn. It shows the mythic figure of commerce. She is leaning over the barrels, the hog's heads, the bails of cotton and wheat and all of those agricultural goods that make New Orleans so wealthy. She's looking towards the finished crates of fine goods coming into the city. I love this one specifically because there is one crate with Chinese lettering on the side, showing the global reach of commerce in New Orleans," says Blackmore.
Other pieces show immense ornate detail as well. The teapot shows old man Mississippi pouring out the river waters from his jug and the sugar bowl shows a sugar plantation on it.
Each piece was crafted with care by the hands of Terfloth and Kuchler. Work by these two German silversmiths is rare to find today, because of the small number of pieces they made and the short period of time they worked together.
Therefore, you could firmly say, that the men who gifted Francis Hatch, chose well.
Good luck on your shopping endeavors this holiday season and make sure you tune in every week to see what we find from the Historic New Orleans Collection.