A Pair of American Silver Footed Meat Platters Tiffany & Co., New York, NY, Circa 1880 Chrysanthemum pattern, shaped oval, the rims applied with dense foliage and chrysanthemum blossoms, the borders engraved with foliate script monogram BMHP, raised on four scroll supports applied with large blossoms marked on undersides and numbered 5733-2176 146 ozt 3 dwt Length 18 inches Estimate $ 12,000-18,000
Provenance: The Estate of Potter and Bertha Matilde Honore Palmer, Chicago, IL Thence by descent to the present owner
The monogram is that of Bertha Matilde Honoré Palmer (1849-1918), wife of Chicago businessman Potter Palmer (1826-1902). Mrs. Palmer was raised in Louisville, KY and in 1871 married Potter Palmer, twenty-three years her senior. In 1852 Potter Palmer had established a dry goods store on Lake Street in Chicago. To distinguish his firm from his competitors Palmer focused his efforts on female clientele selling both dry goods and imported French fashions, and instituted a "no questions asked" return policy. In 1865 he partnered with Marshall Field and Levi Leiter and rebranded the firm as Field, Palmer Leiter and Company. He is credited for the development of State Street as well as Lake Shore Drive, where in 1885 the Palmers constructed a massive turreted Italianate mansion in the Gold Coast. The Palmers were ambitious collectors of French Impressionism, and their collection, which now forms the core of the Art Institute of Chicago's collection, included 29 Monets and 11 Renoirs. Mrs. Palmer was famous for her legendary jewels and lavish tastes-the front page headline of the Chicago Sunday Tribune once begged the question "Is Mrs Potter Palmer the Only American Woman Who Knows how to Spend a Fortune?". Her husband's will dictated that upon his death a significant sum should go to Bertha's next husband "Because he'll need it." Mrs. Palmer was very involved in the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, and served as the President of the Board of Lady Managers. She died in Florida in 1918. The Palmer Mansion was demolished in 1950.