Object Place: New York, New York
12 x 11 x 6.5 cm (4 3/4 x 4 5/16 x 2 9/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Regional Styles in Middle Colonies Gallery (Gallery 134)
The raised vessel with pear-shaped body is ornamented with a cast broken-scroll handle and scalloped rim; the whole is supported by three cabriole legs with hoof-shaped feet.
Silversmith Myer Myers was well established in New York by the 1750s, but he lacked the kinship network that had enabled the Le Roux and Van Dyck silversmithing families to prosper. Without other family members or fellow Jewish silversmiths to call upon, Myers formed a partnership about 1756 with Benjamin Halstead. It was only the second time such an arrangement had occurred among silversmiths, the first being the joint venture of John Hull and Robert Sanderson Sr. in 1652. The partners commemorated their new relationship with two innovations. They devised a single touchmark bearing their surname initials “H&M,” the first time such a mark had been employed anywhere in the British colonies, and they used a city mark as well. Both were frequently emulated by American silversmiths during the nineteenth century.
Despite their nearly eight-year partnership, surprisingly few objects bearing the joint “H&M” mark have survived. David L. Barquist has observed that the two men continued to fashion silver with their personal marks during the same period, with the majority by Myers. It may be that Halstead provided more capital than silversmithing skills, for he was styled “squire” in area records, usually an indicator of independent wealth. Barquist speculates that the objects bearing their joint mark could represent those in which both men had a financial interest. Halstead, who did not register as a Freeman in New York, may not have completed or even served an apprenticeship; he worked as a retail jeweler after the partnership ended.
The Halstead and Myers creampot or milk pot is a modest form and stylistically indistinguishable from New England vessels of the same type. Such works could have been fashioned in quantity for sale in their shop. Similar creampots marked individually by Myers and Halstead were made during their partnership.
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.
"R / W S" and "M TE" (conjoined) in roman letters engraved on bottom
"H&M" in rectangle and "N-York" in a shaped cartouche stuck on bottom
Original owners unknown. Allenn Rabineau (1808-1893) and his wife, Mary Frances Zabriskie (1810-1863). By descent from Mabel Buncher Penny to her daughter, Elizabeth Penny Hart; to her neice,Gretchen Kramer Wagner; to her sister, Patricia Kramer Welte; March 28, 1900, gift by Patricia Kramer Welte to MFA.
Gift of Patricia Kramer Welte