The firm of Nicholls & Plincke was founded by members of the relatively large community of English silversmiths and craftsmen working in Saint Petersburg. After 1840 it was one of the most important retailers of luxury items before Carl Fabergé overshadowed all competitors. Several contemporary Saint Petersburg newspapers praised the high-quality products of the magasin anglais Nicholls & Plincke.
According to the donor's family tradition, this rare set with more than fifty items bearing the monogram CMI was "originally made for and used by Colin Macrae Ingersoll [1819–1903], when he accompanied his father, Ralph Isaacs Ingersoll [1788–1872], to the Court of Czar Alexander II of Russia, where the latter served President [James Knox] Polk [1795–1849] as Minister Plenipotentiary from 1846 to 1848. . . . The family story has always been that [the set and case were] made for stagecoach travel in Russia."
Plain silver objects—like the ewer and the cup of this set—with simple outlines and restrained forms inspired silversmiths of the modern era. Only the elaborate cartouche framing the monogram indicates that the set was made in the early Victorian period.
Colin Macrae Ingersoll ; Colin Macrae Ingersoll ; Ralph McAllister Ingersoll (until 1968)
Artist: Unknown Artist, Swiss, Austrian, or German, active Russia ca. 1703–4 Date: probably shortly before 1704Medium: Red pine (pinus sylvestris), with wrought-iron clipsAccession: 1996.7On view in:Gallery 551