Creampot

1787
Attributed to Paul Revere, Jr. (American, 1734–1818)


Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Catalogue Raisonné

Massachusetts

Dimensions

14.8 x 13.5 x 7.7 cm (5 13/16 x 5 5/16 x 3 1/16 in.)

Accession Number

1973.214

Medium or Technique

Silver

Not On View

Collections

Americas

Classifications

Silver hollowware

The raised helmet-shaped vessel has a square plinth supporting a circular splayed foot with a narrow vertical step. A slender C-shaped strap handle is attached to rim opposite the V-shaped mouth; an attenuated section of handle is soldered to body of vessel at lower join. Beaded decoration appears at rim of pitcher and on top edge of the foot. There is a break at the seam of the circular foot. A decorative device below the spout is composed of swags and ribbons over crossed stalks of flowers that surrounds an elliptical shield bearing owner’s initials.


Bearing the monogram “HC” within an oval garland, the engraving on this unmarked creampot is closely related to a teapot and stand by Paul Revere in the Museum’s collection that was fashioned in 1787 for the wedding of Hannah Carter and William Smith. Because the service postdates Josiah Austin’s death by seven years, the presence of the “J [pellet] Austin” mark on that teapot has caused much discussion. Fortunately, surviving bills from Nathaniel Austin to William Smith, and corresponding records in Paul Revere II’s waste book, suggest that Austin made use of his late uncle’s mark in retailing the work of Revere. William Smith did make a large purchase from Austin on June 28, 1787, which did not include the creampot. However, on the following day, Revere charged Austin £2.1.14 for “one Silver cream pot wt. 5 oz 2-.” The Museum’s creampot is now lighter by 9 dwt, a small difference probably due to years of polishing.
Despite Revere’s daybook record, Kathryn C. Buhler conjectured that construction features in the creampot were unlike those characteristic of Revere’s work. She believed that Nathaniel Austin made the vessel. Indeed, the rather small and light base of the creamer, with its broken seam, is less well executed than Revere’s typical work. Furthermore, the beading on the vessel is not found on the teapot and stand. These conflicting results demonstrate how difficult it can be to make attributions for colonial silver that was made by one party and retailed by another. However, the delicate, swagged engraving was almost certainly done by Revere or someone in his workshop, for it closely matches that found on the Smith family silver made by Revere.

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

Entwined initials "HC " engraved in sprigged script within an elliptical device; "1787." engraved below crossed palms.

Markings

Unmarked.

Provenance

Probably made for Hannah Carter and William Smith, who were married in 1787; subsequent history unknown until sold in 1973 to the Museum by Firestone and Parsons, Jewelers, Boston.

Credit Line

Marion Davis Fund