The initials are those of Henry Meiggs (1811-1877), Gilded Age entrepreneur and industrialist. He made a first fortune selling lumber in San Francisco during the Gold Rush, then turned to real estate. Meigg’s Wharf covered part of the area now occupied by Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, and Pier 45. Becoming overextended, he issued fraudulent warrants on the city’s Street Fund, then fled California for Chile in 1854. He became a successful railroad builder there and in adjoining South American countries, paid back his San Francisco debts, and constructed a mansion in Santiago. He expanded to Peru in the mid 1860s where, known as “Don Enrique”, he became virtual dictator of the country, dying there in 1877.
Per the Gorham costing records, there were four examples of this punch bowl, model #80, made: in 1870, 1871, 1872, and 1873. The present example from 1871 had a retail price of $430.