22ND TRIENNIAL CONCLAVE AT SAN FRANCISCO, CA, 1883 AMERICAN SILVER, CALIFORNIA GOLD, QUARTZ, AND BRONZE "KNIGHTS TEMPLAR" TROPHY, GEORGE C. SHREVE & CO., SAN FRANCISCO, THE FIGURES ATTRIBUTED TO F. MARION WELLS, 1883
- signed on bronze "Geo C. Shreve & Co. S.F. Cal."
- Silver, Gold, Hardstone
- height 28in.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.
The 1883 Grand Encampment was held in San Francisco from August 21 to 27th, the first time the meeting had gone west of the Rockies. Thirty-two Grand Commanderies were represented on the West Coast. "Formal addresses of welcome by State and city functionaries, newspaper publicity, decoration of the city in honor of the visiting hosts, great and well-conducted parage, all these features functioned with modern regularity. Especial efforts were put forth in the matter of lavish and generous entertainment of all sorts"
The trade cards of trophies preserved in the St. Bernard Commandery archives reveal San Francisco's awareness of the purchasing power of the Knights descending upon them, civic leaders wealthy enough to travel across the continent for this event. The card for this trophy - proclaiming "Designed and Manuf'd by Geo C. Shreve & Co., 110 Montg'y St." - goes on to describe the piece:
A revolving globe of silver 10 inches in diameter. California is represented on the map by sold gold inlaid. Figure of Knight in armor with drawn sword, standing on the globe is of silver and gold, 8 inches high.
The first is made of silver and polished gold bearing quartz. The tents, banners and Templar armor are of silver. The base supporing the whole is of bronze and silver. The medalion [sic.] in centre contains an engraving of three leaders of the first crusade and those on either side Templar emblems in gold bearing quarts and specimens of ores. The bears are of silver.
George Choates Shreve had arrived in San Francisco from Massachusetts in 1852; his half-brother Benjamin would later become a partner in the Boston firm of Shreve, Crump and Low. Until the 1880s Shreve & Co. were primarily retailers, importing pieces from the east. However, in 1881 George Shreve took a partner, and with the increased capital was able to advertise in 1881: "New Departure: To meet a constant and growing demand for a finer class of jewelry than is usually imported to this city, we have established a new factory, complete in all the details of improved machinery, for the manufacture of the best goods that can be made." By late 1882 they were employing 70 workers, and in Feburary 1883 advertised that they made "Extensive Improvements to our Factory, and added largely to its Facilities" (see Bowman op cit., p. 16).
The trophies for the Templar Grand Encampment - three have cards from Shreve, and they may have had a hand in others - must have been a golden opportunity to display to a local and nationwide audience the firm's new capabilities. Even before the event, in March 1883 the San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin described the three proposed trophies to be made by Shreve. The first described, a silver knight on an onyx column won by an Indianapolis Commandery, specified, "The modeling of the figures is to be done by Marion Wells;" presumably he also modeled the present lot. In the 1870s F. Marion Wells sculpted the Goddess of Progress for Old City Hall; the figure was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and the head is now in the Museum of the City of San Francisco.