Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
16.7 x 16 x 10.5 cm (6 9/16 x 6 5/16 x 4 1/8 in.)
Medium or Technique
Not On View
Decorated with elaborate flat-chased leaves and circles on both sides, the creampot’s pear-shaped body curves in to the neck, which is bound with three ribs, and out to a flaring lip and broad spout. The body sits on a domed foot edged with two stamped bands of stars set against a dark stippled background. The scrolled strap handle attaches to the upper rim and the lower body.
John B. Jones had been in the jewelry business twenty years when this large and inverted pear-shaped creampot was made. Jones began working in 1813, and in 1816 he became the junior partner of Jabez Baldwin, managing the Salem silversmith’s new Boston store. Jones established himself independently after Baldwin died in 1819; sometime between 1826 and 1829, he moved to 123 Washington Street, which would become the firm’s longtime home. In 1833 he took into the firm Samuel S. Ball, twenty-five years his junior. Three years later, George B. Jones replaced John as head of the firm, though John maintained a business address “above” 123 Washington Street until at least 1840. The firm prospered, undergoing several changes in partnerships but continuing to build a reputation as one of Boston’s two or three most prestigious jewelers. It survives today as the well-known Shreve, Crump & Low.
Jones was born in Framingham, Massachusetts, in 1782 to John and Mary (Belknap) Jones and was trained by an unknown master. His early career is complicated by the existence of a second jeweler with the same name working in Boston from about 1810 to 1822. Jones first appeared in the Boston directory of 1813, listed as “John Jones, junior, jeweller.” When silversmith Jabez Baldwin of Salem expanded his business in 1816 to include a Boston shop, Jones became his partner. He dropped the “junior” from his name by 1818 and, in 1821, added the middle initial “B,” for his mother’s maiden name, Belknap.
By the time Jones added a partner (to create John Jones & Co.), the city directory had a small, separate advertising section, and the enterprising Jones placed a large half-page ad in the 1833 edition, the only local jeweler to do so. Along with imported watches, plated and Brittannia ware, Japannery and other fancy goods, Jones proclaimed that he “Manufactures in a superior style all description of Silver Plate and variety of Rich Jewels, Diamonds and Precious Stones.” An 1834 tutorial cup, struck with Jones’s mark from this period, is in the collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Later work by the firm is included in this catalogue (cat. nos. 213 – 16, 231).
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.
"Mary B. Fay / Jan 1st 1857" engraved on front. [hand on inscription is similar to that on 1973.645 made in 1850's]
Stamped on the bottom, "J. B. Jones & Co." within a rectangle.
Ada Mark * F4771
Mary B. (Carter) Fay (1808 – 1889) was the wife of Boston merchant/distiller William C. Fay (1811 – 1889), son of Winslow Fay, prominent shipowner and merchant on India Wharf. The creampot may have been inscribed as a New Year’s gift to Mary in 1857, though the mark indicates the piece was made earlier. The family also owned a silver cup (Res. 34.2) from the Boston firm of Jones, Lows & Ball (active 1835 – 1840). See Res.34.2 and Res.34.5 for the donor's connection to the Fay family.
Bequest of Annie Bolton Matthews Bryant