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Table Furnishings - Tea Pots, Urns And Spoons

( Originally Published 1902 )

BESIDES the plate imported from France, England and Holland, a considerable quantity was manufactured here. On the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, many of the best workers in the precious metals left France and settled in Holland, Germany and England. Not a few crossed the Atlantic. The names of the silversmiths who were freemen of New York from the close of the Seventeenth Century till the Revolution were as follows : Everardus Bogardus, Ahasuerus Kendrick, Cornelis Kiersteade and Benjamin Wyncoope (1698) ; Richard Overin and Jacob Vanderspiegel (1701) ; Benjamin Kip (1702) ; Bartolo Schaats (1708) ; Cornelis Cornelison (1712) ; Coenraet Ten Eyck (1716) ; Peter Vergereau (1721) ; Samuel Broadhurst (1725) ; John Hastier (1726) ; Cornelius Wynkoop (1727) ; Stephen Bourdet (1730) ; John Brevoort (1742) ; Silvester Morris (I 759) ; John Burt Lyng and John Heath (1761) ; Joshua Slydell and William Grigg (1765) ; Walter Thomas (1769) ; and John Rominie (1770).

It will be noticed that some of the above names are unmistakably Huguenot, while others are English and Dutch. Besides these freemen, other silversmiths kept shops in New York and advertised in the papers. In 1767, Cary Dunn was in New Dutch Church Street. Joseph Pinto of Bayard Street was a silver-smith who kept his wares prominently before the public. In 1759 he announced :

" Very neat chased silver tea pots, sugar pots, mugs chased and plain, milk pots, coffee pots, pepper castors, salts with shovels and glasses to them, fluted and chased children's whistles, double and single jointed tea tongs, tea spoons, punch strainers and ladles."

He also sold " crystal and paste shoe, knee, stock and girdle buckles " and in 761 he offered :

"Very fine silver chased turene, dish and spoon; chased and plain stands, full finished ; chased candlesticks, coffee and tea pots, sugar dishes, slop bowls, and sauce boats, chased and plain pint and half pint mugs, salvers of different sizes, and milk pots, salts and pepper castors and narrow spoons, cases with silver-handled knives and forks, silver watches, silver and plated spurs, chased and plain whistles, gold-headed canes, locket buttons set in gold, shoe, knee and girdle buckles."

In the same year, he had a few additional articles, including silver chased coffee-pots, tea-pots and sugar-dishes, punch-strainers and ladles, and a " great variety of open-worked stone, knee and girdle buckles, gold and silver brooches set with garnets, plain gold do., crystal buttons set in gold and a variety of other things." Another silversmith who was anxious to serve the public was Benjamin Halsted. On one occasion at least, he does not seem to have given en-tire satisfaction, judging from the following announcement in 1764:

"A premonition to those gentlemen that may hereafter have an occasion to employ a silversmith to beware of that villain Benjamin Halsted; lest they be bit by him as I have been. Andrew Bowne."

A few representative lists of plate actually owned by families about the middle of the century will show that the New York merchant's table was as well sup-plied as his brother's in England. Rip Van Dam, (see page 86) possessed a good deal of valuable silver among which may be mentioned three tankards relatively worth $50.00, $35.00 and $6o.00 ; a chafing-dish, $35.00 ; two candlesticks, snuffers and stand, $80.00 ; three castors, $30.00 ; two salvers worth $40.00 and $18.00 ; mug, salt-cellar and pepper-box, $20.00 ; two dozen spoons, $18.00 ; a pot, $ 14.00 ; and tea-spoons and table spoons, $25.00. The de Peyster plate, in 1760, consisted of four tankards, two decanters, two dishes, three plates, seven salvers, two large salvers, two small salvers, two cups and covers, two chafing-dishes, six porringers, four sauce-boats, two punch-bowls, three mugs, four sugar-dishes, a coffee-pot and tea-pot, seven salts and shovels, one saucepan, four pairs of snuffers and stand, a mustard-pot, a bread-basket, a dram-bottle, a tobacco-dish, nine castors, six candlesticks, one waiter, twenty-three forks, three soup-spoons, two punch-ladles, ten tablespoons, ten tea-spoons, two sugar-tongs — all weighing 1272 ounces,—valued at from $1,500 to $2,000.

Some specimens of silver that were long in the de Peyster family appear on pages 140 and 394. Others, including an urn, coffee-pot, salvers, a tea-caddy, a mug, a strainer, ladles, candlesticks and grape-vine spoons appear on page 153. These are owned by the family of the late James de Peyster of New York.

The silver in the Walton house, might have indeed been described as "massy plate," amounting as it did to 3401 ounces. It consisted of two pairs of silver candlesticks, 81 ounces ; one silver snuffers stand, 11 ; one large silver waiter, 32 ; two small silver waiters, 15 ; two pint mugs, 211; two pint bowls, 12 ; two sauce-boats, 29 ; four salts and four shovels, 12 ; twenty tea-spoons ; one sugar-tongs, ; one small chafing-dish, ; one punch-ladle, 2 ; one wine-cock, 5 ; two table-spoons, 4 ; one tankard, 31 ; one punch-strainer, 1 ; one coffee-pot, 28 ; one large soup-spoon, 8 ; one large tankard, 44 ; and two large cases of knives, forks, and spoons. Two of the above candlesticks appear on page 150.

We have seen that during the Eighteenth Century, it was not an exceptional case for a wealthy home to contain plate weighing 1000 oz. and some-times considerably more. It will be interesting to see of what a typical collection of this kind, though only of about half the above amount, consisted.

The former was owned by the Rev. Samuel Johnson, first President of King's College ; and now belongs to his descendants, Mr. and Mrs. William E. Ver Planck. The second, belonging to Mr. and Mrs. Richard Ray, is now owned by their descendant, Mrs. Natalie E. Baylies, of New York. It is noticeable that many tea-pots and tea-kettles of the reigns of George II. and George III. are very simple in design. In these reigns, Louis Quinze designs were also very popular. An ex-ample of such a tea-pot, bearing the hall-mark of 1749-'50, appears on page 156. Another tea-pot appears on page 273. The latter belonged to Dr. Matthias Burnet Miller (1749-1792), and was given to his son Judge Morris Smith Miller. This is now owned by his great-granddaughter, Mrs. Wilmot Townsend Cox, of New York. A handsome tea-set, said to date from the middle of the century, belongs to Frederic J. de Peyster, Esq., and appears on page 284.

As a rule, the coffee-pot was slender and taller in form than the tea-pot. Coffee-pots appear on pages 153 and 156. Two coffee-pots of the Louis Quinze period are shown on the latter page. The one on the right with the hall-mark 1758-'9, belonged to James Alexander, father of the Earl of Stirling (see page 76). It has a beautiful pattern of flowers and scroll-work and a border of little bells reminiscent of Chinese ornamentation. The top is shaped like a pine-apple. This piece of silver was buried during the Revolution. It is now owned by Mr. Alexander's descendant, Mrs. Edward Parke Custis Lewis, of Hoboken, N. J. The other coffee-pot, in the same picture, bearing the hall-mark of 1762-'3, is similar in its general design and ornamentation. Another old coffee-pot appears on page 147, and is owned by Mrs. W. W. Shippen of New York.

The cream-jug and sugar-bowl usually matched the tea-pot. Part of a set that originally belonged to Henry Bowers (1747-1800), is shown on page 371. These are now owned by his descendant, Mrs. Wilmot Townsend Cox of New York. Their general shape, with lobes, as well as their square handles and ball feet show that these are early pieces. It may be remarked here that the ball foot upon silver vessels appeared very early in the Seventeenth Century. Upon the same illustration (page 371), is a gravy boat that belonged to Maria Crooke (1721-1794), who was married to Petrus Elmendorph of Kingston. It is owned now by their great-grand-daughter Mrs. Wilmot Townsend Cox. The salt-cellars with their original spoons were owned by John Rutger Bleecker and are now in the possession of Mrs. French Ensor Chadwick. The tankard was owned by Maria Crooke, and the candlestick is one of a pair owned by James Chatham Duane.

Chocolate-pots were much used and sometimes stood on feet. One of quite late date bearing the hall-mark of 1784, and owned by Mrs. Douglas Robinson, of New York, appears on page 352.

The urn is of later date than the tea-kettle. It was generally of a pointed or oval shape. Specimens appear on pages 153 and 147. The former belongs to the de Peyster family ; the second, to Catharine Lyn-son and is owned by her descendant, Mrs. W. W. Shippen, of New York. In the same illustration is shown a coffee-pot that belonged to Gabriel Ludlow, and coffee-spoons decorated with the heads of jesters. There is also a snuff-box on this plate and an etui case once owned by Catharine Rutgers.

A group of silver appears on page 273, together with several small articles. On the left is a sugar-bowl that belonged to a set owned by Maria Livingston and James Duane who were married in 1759. It is now owned by their great-great-grand-daughter, Mrs. French Ensor Chadwick. On the left is a bowl owned by Mrs. Wilmot Townsend Cox. The small salt-cellars that belonged to the Hon. Samuel Jones of New York (1734-1819), are also owned by Mrs. Cox. Between them stands a small filigree bowl, or cup, lined with blue glass, and a spoon. These belonged to Cornelia Harring Jones, wife of the Hon. Samuel Jones and are now owned by her great-greatgrand-daughter, Mrs. French Ensor Chadwick.

A few examples of plated ware appear on pages 321 and 368. The tea-caddy, snuff-box, dish, and open-work basket on page 368, are owned by Mrs. Alan Hartwell Strong of New Brunswick. On the same illustration are some very interesting card-counters, each stamped with the head of Queen Anne. The little cylindrical box in which these are kept also bears Queen Anne's head.

Silver spoons were to be found in this country from its earliest settlement. The forms of the old spoons were very numerous. The bowls were deep and shallow, egg-shaped, kite-shaped and circular. The stems were round, flat, fluted, spiral, square and worked in many patterns. Sometimes the handle ended in a baluster and square, or hexagonal, engraved button (known as the seal-headed spoon) ; sometimes in a head or figure. The most famous of those with figures were the Apostles' Spoons, which were always highly prized. They occur frequently in the. inventories.

The end of the handle of the Jacobean spoon was broadened, flattened and notched, terminating in three points slightly turned up, and the bowl was a regular oval in shape. This was called the hind's foot spoon and lasted till the end of the reign of Queen Anne.

The new fashion then introduced shows a bowl of a more elongated ellipse ; the end of the handle rounded and turned up, and the middle of the stem gradually rising in a high ridge running down to the extremity of the handle. Although other styles were successively introduced, this pattern persisted almost till 1770. About 1750, the shape with which we are familiar today, came into fashion. The bowl became more pointed, the deepest part being towards the stem, and the end of the handle was turned down instead of up, as heretofore, while the tongue at the back of the bowl, known as " the rat's tail," was shortened into a drop. This is popularly termed " Old English " pattern. It lasted till the beginning of the Nineteenth Century, when it was supplanted by the pattern known as the " Fiddle Head."

Another spoon that was very popular in Georgian days was used principally for liquor. The figure of a monkey was carried on the handle, and from this it took its name. The monkey-spoon was sometimes found in company with the mourning ring and gloves that were given to the bearers at a funeral. We are told that each of the eight bearers received one at the funeral of Philip Livingston, in 1749.

The marrow-spoon was also of importance. On page 164 several spoons of the period appear with other articles. The small spoons there shown were made by Isaac Hutton, a noted silversmith of Albany, and are now owned by Mrs. F. H. Bosworth of New York. The ladle belonged to Helena Morris and John Rutherford (1782), and are now in the Van Cortlandt Museum. The little spoon in one of the salt-cellars was made by one Forbes, also an American silversmith. On the same plate there is a funeral spoon, now owned by Mrs. Howard Townsend. It was one of the spoons given to the pall-bearers at the funeral of Stephen Van Rensselaer in 1787.

The family silver, especially such as Monteiths tankards, caudle-cups, etc., was sometimes highly prized. We should be astonished that so little old plate, has survived if we did not know that our fore-fathers as a rule had very little veneration for any-thing that commemorated the fashions of a former day. Gifts from royal personages, such as the pieces of plate given to Governor Burnet by the Electress Sophia for his services to the House of Hanover, or the plate presented to Lord Baltimore by Frederick,

Prince of Wales, were naturally cherished, as were pieces that had sentimental and family associations, but, as a rule, when new fashions came in, much of the old went to the melting-pot.

Before 1700, we find English settlers sending their plate to London to be refashioned according to new styles. Artistic perception had little to do with this custom. Sometimes the new fashions were inferior in beauty to those they supplanted. The mere fact that an article was old-fashioned lowered its value. In the inventories, old and new-fashioned plate are sometimes set down in separate items, the former being valued so much less per ounce. It was a very common custom for a man to send his old cups and salvers to the silversmith when he wanted new tea-pots. A bill rendered by Paul Revere is extant, in which a tea-pot, stand and some spoons came to £15—10—0 : against this £8—15—0 was credited for a salver containing 25 oz. of silver. The materials and workmanship were charged separately.

When the stormy days of the Revolution arrived, people who had wealth in the form of plate had reason to congratulate themselves, for in comparison with other goods it was readily removable, and when necessity arose it could be easily hidden. Much was buried, and considerable ingenuity was exercised to keep it out of the clutches of rapacious soldiers. One such case is related in the following letter written by Mrs. Alexander Wallace to Gouverneur Morris, Dec. 28, 1776:

" Mrs. Hugh Wallace is pretty well in health, but very unhappy about her husband being kept so long from her, and what adds to her distress is the very heavy loss she has met with about ten days ago in losing all her plate. She sent it to Mr. Richard Yates last summer at Aquacknock, to be kept there as a place of safety ; but upon his leaving that place he had the box which contained the plate put on board a brig, commanded by Capt. Roche, bound to this place. About four miles below Hackinsack the brig was seized by a party of your army, and all the goods taken out. The plate cost upwards of £1500, this currency. She thinks the gentlemen belonging to the Convention, when they know it belongs to her, will order it to be sent to her immediately, as it would be very hard in-deed to send her husband away to Connecticut and allow her property to be plundered. I must request the favour of you to get this affair settled as soon as possible. Enclosed is an inventory of the plate; it was all in one box."

" 1 tea urn, 1 epergne, 1 very large bowl, 4 candlesticks, 1 large pudding dish, 2 large salvers, 3 small salvers, 1 large tankard, 1 coffee pot, 1 pitcher, 1 cruet stand, 4 long handled spoons, 4 scalloped spoons, 6 dozen table spoons, 1 dozen dessert spoons, sugar dish, 1 funnel, fish trowel, 6 salts, 2 mustard pots with spoons, 6 skewers, 2 milk pots, 1 tea chest with cannisters, 1 sugar tongs, 4 labels for bottles, 4 tumblers, 4 rummers, 2 black jacks, large soup ladle, 1 marrow spoon."

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