Covered sugar bowl (with matching teapot)

about 1852–65
Gorham & Company (active 1852–1865)


Object Place: Providence, Rhode Island, United States

Dimensions

21.8 x 17.3 x 14.5 cm (8 9/16 x 6 13/16 x 5 11/16 in.)

Accession Number

1976.642

Medium or Technique

Coin silver

Not On View

Collections

Americas

Classifications

Silver hollowware

The raised and repousséd body has an overall chased floral and foliate decoration. Reserves framed by asymmetrical scrolls on the front and back of the sugar bowl hold a monogram and family crest. Leafy vines entwine the rusticated handles. Bracket-shaped feet are composed of twigs, flowers, and leaves. A domed bezel-set lid, strewn with gadrooned leaves and repousséd and chased flowers and foliage, is surmounted by a pineapple finial secured with a nut and bolt. The lid is not attached.


The seamless hand-raised bodies of these objects offer a clean canvas for the lavish Rococo-revival motifs of branches, leaves, and flowers that erupt into three dimensions and ramble over the curvy forms in an informal, natural manner. Gorham adopted the English sterling standard of 92.5 percent silver alloy in 1868. These two pieces, from what was probably a larger matching service, are made of different alloys. That the teapot bears the quality mark “Sterling” and the sugar bowl “Pure Coin” suggests that the sugar bowl may have been made somewhat earlier. Quality marks such as “Coin,” “Pure Silver Coin,” or “Pure Coin” had been used on American silver since the 1830s.

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.

Inscription

Boylston family arms engraved within a reserve on the proper right of the handle. Arms depict gules, six cross-crosslets fitchee argent, on a chief gold three pellets, charger, and the crest is lion pass guard holding a cross-crosslet of the field, all withing a Rococo-style cartouche. "MHB" to the left of the handle in gothic-style letters with seraphs above and below within a reserve.

Markings

"GORHAM & CO." and "PURE COIN" struck incuse in uppercase Roman letters on the bottom.

Provenance

This sugar bowl may have belonged to Mary Hallowell Boylston (b. 1824), subsequently passing through the Boylston family to Ward Nicholas (d. 1924) and Alice Meehan Boylston (d. 1938); to their daughter Barbara Hallowell Boylston (1913 – 1975) and Paul Webster Bean (b. 1914), m. 1937.

Credit Line

Bequest of Barbara Boylston Bean