Lot 77
  • 77

Paul Lobel

200,000 - 300,000 USD
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  • Paul Lobel
  • An Important and Rare Four-Piece Coffee Service
  • each impressed WILCOX S.P. CO./INTERNATIONAL S.CO./EPWM/N5873
    tray engraved SARAH ROE HARTMAN/12-28-35
    three pieces engraved with monogram to the exterior
  • silver-plated metal
comprising coffeepot, sugar, creamer and tray


Presented to Sarah Roe Hartman on the occasion of her marriage, Amherst, MA, 1935
Thence by descent to the present owners


Contemporary American Industrial Art:  Thirteenth Exhibition, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1934, n.p. (for the prototype of the complete tea service, present whereabouts unknown)
Richard Guy Wilson et al., The Machine Age in America 1918–1941, New York, 1986, p. 310 (for the complete service in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Claude Balir, ed., The History of Silver, New York, 1987, p. 211 (for the partial service in the collection of Carole Stupell)
J. Stewart Johnson, American Modern 1925-1940:  Design for a New Age, New York, 2000, cover and p. 107 (for the complete service in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
Jewel Stern, Modernism in Silver: 20th Century Design, New Haven, 2005, pp. 110-116 (for the complete service in the John C. Waddell Collection, promised gift to Yale University Art Gallery)
John Stuart Gordon, American Design from the Yale University Art Gallery 1920-1950, New Haven, 2011, pp. 266-267 (for the complete service in the John C. Waddell Collection, promised gift to Yale University Art Gallery)


Overall in very good condition. This service has been recently professionally conserved by a leading silver restorer. The surfaces have been sensitively cleaned and a few very small and minor dings were sensitively removed to restore the original smooth surfaces. The service presents beautifully in person with a few minor surfaces scratches, minute areas of pitting and a few minute areas of rubbing to the tops and handles consistent with age and very gentle use. When viewed in person, these piece each display with a consistently smooth and shiny surface. Three of the pieces in the coffee service (excluding the tray) with an engraved monogram, not visible in the catalogue illustration. The present lot is an extremely rare offering and one of only four complete examples of this iconic service known to exist.
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.

Catalogue Note

With its streamlined aesthetic and dynamic spherical forms, this coffee service designed by Paul Lobel has come to embody the sophisticated artistic ideals of American Modernist design of the 1930s.  Lobel's prototype to this service with similar forms was included in the pioneering exhibition Contemporary American Industrial Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1934, placing the design firmly in the canon of innovative American Modern commodity design.  The stylistic references embodied in this coffee service show a rich engagement with varying design inspirations ranging from the French Art Deco style to industrial aviation designs of the 1930s. 

Following the 1934 exhibition, Wilcox Silver Plate Company, a division of International Silver, introduced a production coffee service.  The production examples varied from the prototype in materials as the later works were executed in silver-plated metal, rather than sterling silver, and the handle design was changed from Catalin to plated silver with a wooden insulating disc.

The location of the prototype from the 1934 exhibition is unknown.  In addition to the present example, there are only three known extant complete services of Wilcox production:  one service is in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, a second service is a promised gift from the collection of John C. Waddell to the Yale University Art Gallery, and a third service in a private collection was sold in these rooms in June 2013.  A partial example of the service is noted in the literature in the collection of Carol Stupell, and a single coffee pot in a private collection was also sold in these rooms in December 2011.  (See Sotheby's New York, December 15, 2011, lot 60 and Sotheby's New York, June 12, 2013, lot 89.)