Tilting water pitcher set (tray)
Meriden Britannia Company ( American, 1852 - 1898 )
- patented 1872
Invented and patented by James Stimpson of Baltimore in 1854, ice water pitchers insulated contents by means of metal or glass liners. Designers and manufacturers later improved upon Stimpson's original design, developing double-, triple-, and even quadruple-walled pitchers. As a result of their complex construction, the pitchers were heavy and unwieldy, prompting the development of tilting stands. By the 1870s, pitchers were commonly accompanied not only by trays like this one, but also goblets, waste bowls, and stands, as in the case of this set featuring engraved faux wood grain derived from contemporary Russian metalwork. The popularity of ice water pitcher sets peaked in the 1880s and declined rapidly when the advent of refrigeration and the subsequent establishment of ice plants rendered the form obsolete.
Charles L. Venable, Silver in America, 1840-1940: A Century of Splendor (Dallas, Texas: Dallas Museum of Art; New York, New York; Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1994), 104, 334.