Fannie, I’ve Got Your Cup!

Here’s the story. I sell on Chairish…which in their own words “is the design world’s ultimate destination for home furnishings and art. It’s beloved by interior designers and tastemakers—who come for the rare vintage, antique and contemporary pieces….” Phew. That’s a mouthful!

While their commission tends to be a bit more than other sites (20% if you have at least 10 or more items listed), there are advantages. In order to buy or make an offer, potential buyers have to have a credit card already entered in the Chairish system eliminating non-payment problems. And as a buyer you have three days to return an item if you don’t want it. There is no such thing as “Seller doesn’t accept returns.” It’s very equalitarian. Every buyer has three days (just three, no 30-days of dithering) to decide to keep or return an item. No questions asked.

Now I’ve only bought one thing for myself on the site. It was purported to be an antique carved shoe snuff box, but after I received it, I was 95% sure it was a reproduction and returned it. I got my money back but was out $28 on the shipping costs.

Since that experience I hadn’t bought anything else for myself on Chairish. And then I saw Fannie’s cupa pre-civil-war era coin silver cup made by Gorham. It was a little beat up, but nothing egregious for being 160+ years old!

Here’s one of the listing photos.

To be honest I was drawn to the cup partly by the name “Fannie.” (It’s an old-timey name you never hear anymore in the U.S.) I can picture Fannie receiving this cup as a young girl, say in 1856. Her tomboy nature longs to go out horseback riding with her brothers but she is relegated to the parlor to do her needlework. More than once she has banged down this cup in frustration battering the bottom edges. Later, with the civil war raging Fannie helps her mother and aunts sew bandages for soldiers, but hides her little cup, afraid that it will be taken. One way or another it survives wars, the Great Depression and many generations of daughters till it losses significance (who was Fannie?) and becomes just a homely cup shoved to the back of a cupboard. Till now!

Originally $125, it was marked down to $100 and I made an offer of $90 which was accepted. It arrived lickety-split from the East Coast. I was nervous opening the box but breathed a sigh of relief when I unwrapped the cup.

It is wabi-sabi fabulous. All I did was give it a quick swipe with a silver wipe to clean it up a bit. I plan on using it as a little vase for lavender, salvias and small roses.

The Gorham markings indicate this was made between 1855 and 1860.

Similar sold Gorham cups in slightly better condition have sold in the $200s.

Here’s a similar one listed for $195.

Not sure why this one is priced at $850!!

The bottomline–if I ever decide to sell Fannie’s cup, I should be able to make a little profit. I think as time goes on and more of these cups get melted down, the remaining ones will become more rare and potentially more valuable. But I plan on enjoying it for some time to come!

Happy hunting,


P.S. You may be wondering why I thought the shoe snuff box was a reproduction. For a 100+ year old item there was no wear. None. And you’d expect to see some wear/discoloration in a snuff box. And the well for holding the snuff was very, very small/shallow which is atypical in shoe snuff boxes. It should have been much larger and deeper to be useful. I didn’t spot either of these in the photos, but in person as I handled the item I couldn’t shake the feeling that this wasn’t old or even a real snuff box but a nicely made reproduction. I was thankful for the option to return it.

P.S.S. You may want to check out my Chairish store, Cloak & Dagger Vintage. I’ve got a few interesting bits there and hope to add more soon.


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