Coffeepot, part of seven-piece service
Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
26.1 x 27 x 13 cm (10 1/4 x 10 5/8 x 5 1/8 in.)
Medium or Technique
Not On View
The piece is footed, urn-shaped, and ovoid in section. The angular hollow handles have square shoulders with ivory insulating rings and ram’s head thumbpieces. The spout is tall, slender and vertical. The neck tapers in producing a cove molding with an applied ribbed band at the upper edge and a beaded band at the shoulder and body joint. The bezel-set and domed lid is topped with a beaded ring finial reminiscent of a nautical wheel; the lid is attached with a five-part hinge to the pot.
This large service is executed in a restrained Neoclassical style and was purchased from one of Boston’s most prestigious retail stores. It was presented to Margaret Gardner of Nantucket and Harrison Loring of Duxbury on their marriage in 1867, as a gift by the employees of Loring’s steamship works in South Boston. The gleaming unornamented surface of the urn-shaped forms acts as a foil for the finely detailed cast finials in the form of ram’s heads. Along with the nautical-wheel finial, these wild animals may refer to the untamed Western market still served by water (and Loring’s steamships) but not yet by rail. One of the teapots, the sugar bowl, and one of the creampots, perhaps composing a smaller set for daily use, were inscribed in memory of Margaret in 1928, when they were given to the donor’s parents on their marriage.
Born in Duxbury, Massachusetts, Harrison Loring served his apprenticeship as a machinist in Jabez Coney’s Foundry in South Boston. In 1847 he established his own business on First Street in South Boston and built stationary and marine engines and boilers, sugar mills, paper mill machinery, pumps, presses, shafting, and iron lighthouses; he employed more than five hundred skilled workers. Foreseeing the demand for iron steamships, Loring established the first iron shipbuilding facility in New England. In 1860 – 1861 four iron-screw merchant steamers were built for service to Charleston and New Orleans. Two of the vessels, the Massachusetts and the South Carolina, were later sold to the U.S. government for blockading the southern coast during the Civil War. Another, the Merrimack, fell into rebel hands. Renamed the Virginia and outfitted as an armored gunboat, she fought the Battle of Hampton Roads on March 9, 1862, with the U.S.S. Monitor.
Benjamin Shreve began his career in Boston in 1852 with Jones, Ball & Co. (see cat. no. 215), already one of the city’s most prestigious purveyors of luxury goods; Shreve was added to the firm’s name in 1855 (see cat. no 216). After George B. Jones retired and Seth E. Brown left the firm, Shreve joined with longtime Boston silversmith Henry B. Stanwood and J. H. Kimball to form Shreve, Stanwood & Co. The partnership remained in place until Stanwood’s death in 1868. Although the partners may have trained as silversmiths, and some jewelry was manufactured by the firm, their stock of silverware was purchased wholesale from makers in Boston, Providence, New York, and other cities as well as sources outside the United States.
This text has been adapted from “Silver of the Americas, 1600-2000,” edited by Jeannine Falino and Gerald W.R. Ward, published in 2008 by the MFA. Complete references can be found in that publication.
Engraved with a gothic-style "L" on one side.
“SHREVE, STANWOOD & CO” incuse, “BOSTON” within a rectangle, and “STERLING” incuse, all struck on base; “75279” scratched on bottom.
Beginning as a machinist in South Boston, Harrison Loring (1822-1907) established the first iron shipbuilding facility in New England. This tea service was presented to Loring and Margaret Gardner (1838 – 1920) of Nantucket on the occasion of their marriage in 1867 by his company; to their son Harrison Loring Jr. (b. 1868) and Clara Melville, m. 1892; to Theodore Plimpton Loring and Thelma Woodson, m. 1928; to their daughter Priscilla L. Waite, the donor.
Gift of Priscilla L. Waite