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The Woolworth Bowl

March 29, 2013 - March 29, 2013

This remarkable and unique silver presentation punch bowl, currently on display in our Smith Gallery, was presented by Frank W. Woolworth (1852-1919) to architect Cass Gilbert (1859-1934) at the formal dinner celebrating the opening of the Woolworth Building.When the neo-Gothic skyscraper, known as the "Cathedral of Commerce," was completed in 1913, it was the tallest building in the world, and held that distinction until the completion of 40 Wall Street and the Chrysler Building in 1930.

Tiffany & Co. (1837-present), Presentation punch bowl commemorating the opening of the F.W. Woolworth Building, 1913. Sterling silver with gold inscription. Purchased through the generosity of Barbara Knowles Debs and Richard A. Debs, Paul Guarner, Patricia D. Klingenstein, the Monsky family, Nancy Newcomb and John Hargraves, Pam B. Schafler, and Roy J. Zuckerberg, 2013.12

Woolworth's "small token” of his regard, as he described it during the presentation ceremony, was in fact a conspicuous flaunting of wealth and power. The bowl is austere in its design, with an inscription around the perimeter executed in Gothic-style silver gilt lettering. Both the lettering and the bowl's neo-Gothic ornament make direct reference to the architectural details of Gilbert's masterpiece. A view of the Woolworth Building from City Hall Park is chased inside the bottom of the bowl. The bowl was executed by Tiffany & Co., the city's premier luxury retailer, as a custom order. Not surprisingly, it is lavishly made.

Creative: Tronvig Group