Duhme & Co. of Cincinnati, the most prominent silver manufacturer and jewelry retailer in the Midwest during the nineteenth century, was founded in the early 1840s by Herman Duhme, a German immigrant who had settled in Ohio in 1834. The company established a reputation for producing handmade objects of high quality at a time when most manufacturers of silver relied on machines for production. Duhme’s dedication to hand workmanship anticipated the basic tenets of the Arts and Crafts Movement, which dominated the production of the decorative arts just a few decades later.
This tea and coffee service reflects the various design currents prevalent in American decorative arts during the 1870s, when the revival of motifs from one or more historical styles was common practice. Here the curvilinear elements of the Rococo Revival and the naturalistic images of the Arts and Crafts Movement are merged into a coherent whole. The cartouche, composed of C-scrolls and the repoussé floral decoration that covers much of the body, has the intricacy and fluidity that mark it as Rococo Revival, while the expressive rendering of the flowers, the accurately depicted flora and fauna, and the intersecting-disk finials show the adoption of later Arts and Crafts ideas.
Produced as a set, all of the pieces in this service are decorated in identical style. Matched services originated in the late eighteenth century. Before that time, pieces in different styles, produced by different makers at different times, were acquired one by one.