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The Boardmans, Pewterers

Any piece of pewter bearing one of the several Boardman touch marks is an example of the well-designed work done in Connecticut during the second quarter of the nineteenth century. There were four Boardman brothers and back of them was a long tradition of family pewtering through their mother, Sarah Danforth, who married Oliver Boardman of Hartford in 1781. She was a granddaughter of Thomas Danforth, one of the best known of eighteenth century American pewterers and ancestor of a considerable group who followed the same trade for another two generations.

It is generally conceded that Oliver and Sarah's four sons, Thomas Danforth, Sherman> Timothy, and Henry, all learned the craft of pewtermaking from one or another of their Danforth uncles. The eldest, Thomas Danforth Boardman, had his own shop on Main Street about 1825. He marked his pieces "T.D. Boardman, Hartford," sometimes combined with the impress of an eagle or a lion. He was presently joined by his brother Sherman. Their usual mark was "TD&SB," impressed block-letter initials in a rectangle. This mark was used until about 1854. They had a large, well-organized factory and were probably the first pewterers to be established on such a scale.

With their sizable output, they had to devise better ways of marketing it than the old method of selling it to itinerant peddlers. The answer proved to be establishments in New York and Philadelphia where the wares made in Hartford were sold, with special distinguishing marks for each branch.

For instance, brother Timothy went to New York about 1825 where he first did business as "Boardman & Company" with his pewter so marked. In about a year, the firm name was changed to "Boardman & Hart, N-York" and the touch mark accordingly. Shortly afterward, Timothy Boardman ceased to be active in New York but Lucius Hart continued the business on Wall Street until 1850.

The fourth brother, Henry S. Boardman went to Philadelphia in 1844. Three years before, he had been listed in Hartford as a working pewterer with a shop on Trumbull Street. The Philadelphia business was organized as Boardman & Hall. The touch mark was the firm name with "Philad'a" impressed beneath. The style, but not the touch mark, was changed in about a year to Hall, Boardman & Co. and, in 1849, to Hall & Boardman. The latter was retained until the branch was closed in 1853.

Close relationship between the Hartford factory and the branches in New York and Philadelphia is indicated by occasional pieces that are found where the mark, "Boardman FJ Hall," has been partially erased and altered to "Boardman & Hart," or the other way around. Evidently some workman used the wrong second name.

The Boardmans made a wide range of articles, including plates, porringers, and mugs, but were especially successful in the pleasing shape of their hollow ware pieces, such as open and covered pitchers of up to gallon size, teapots, coffee pots, and communion flagons. These followed the lines of the earlier domed tankards.



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