Ladle

1781
Paul Revere, Jr. (American, 1734–1818)


Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Dimensions

9.5 x 36.5 cm (3 3/4 x 14 3/8 in.)

Accession Number

1991.1084

Medium or Technique

Silver

Not On View

Collections

Americas

Classifications

Silver flatware

The large scallop-shaped bowl of this ladle is notable for the leafy pattern swaged on the back of its deep and broad drop. The handle extends from a rounded drop toward a rounded downturned handle. The feather-edged decoration ends in swaged asymmetrical cartouche at handle tip.


Following his marriage to Sarah Apthorp in 1781, Boston patriot Perez Morton purchased a large amount of tea- and punch-related silver items from Paul Revere. Within the first year of his marriage, Morton bought a dozen large teaspoons, five salt spoons, two pair of sugar tongs, two small ladles, a “silver frame for Casters,” and probably this large “tureen ladle,” one of a pair to be engraved with crests, as was recorded in Revere’s daybooks. Revere also mended candlesticks, fans, a “pudding Bason,” and a “glass piramed” for Morton, some of which were surely imported.
Because this ladle carries the Apthorp crest, it may have originated in the home of this prominent merchant family or been given to Sarah Apthorp before or after her marriage. Alternatively, the family may have ordered the ladle from Revere as a wedding gift or provided funds to Morton for its purchase. Although not widely recognized, there is precedent for wedding silver engraved with matrilineal family arms. One well-known example is a sugar bowl engraved with the Chandler arms and crest that was made by Revere for Lucretia Chandler upon her marriage in 1761 to John Murray of Rutland, Massachusetts.
Since Revere’s daybook does not record any purchases made by the Apthorp family, it is possible that Morton purchased the silver and arranged for his wife’s family to be honored in the engraved crest. Fittingly, the ladle descended in the matrilineal line through five generations until it was made a gift by the donors.

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

Engraved "M / P * S" on back of handle tip in shaded roman letters. The Apthorp family crest, a mullet on a torse, is engraved within a cartouche on the front tip of handle.

Markings

Marked "[pellet] REVERE" in a rectangle on back of handle.

Provenance

Ordered from Revere by Perez Morton (1750-1837), speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatatives from 1806-11, and Attorney General for Massachusetts from 1811-1832. Morton married Sarah Wentworth Apthorp (1759-1846) in 1781.1 Sarah's parents were James and Sarah (Wentworth) Apthorp of Braintree (now Quincy).2 By descent to their daughter Sarah Apthorp Morton (1782-1844) and Richard (or John) Cunningham, m. 1809; to their daughter, Charlotte Cunningham (1817/18) and Dr. Howard Sargent (1810-1872),3 to their daughter, Mary Sarah Sargent (1844-1908) and her second husband, John Vaughn Apthorp (b. 1844), m. 1882; to their daughter, Helen Sargent Apthorp (1883-1982) and Henry Smith Thompson (1871-1944) to their daughters, the donors, Mary Sargent Thompson (1909-1995) and Helena Apthorp Thompson Long (1903-1992).

1 Lawrence Park, Gilbert Stuart, II:534-38, cat. 561-563. Gilbert Stuart, Mrs. Perez Morton (Sarah Wentworth Apthorp) 1802, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 39.681, in Carol Troyen et al. American Paintings in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Summary Catalogue (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1997), p. 265.

2 John Wentworth, Descendants of Samuel2 Wentworth. Three Volumes. [Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1978), I:519-24.

3Emma Worcester Sargent and Charles Sprague Sargent, Epes Sargent of Gloucester and his Descendants (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1923), pp. 184-88.

Credit Line

Gift of Mary Sargent Thompson and Helena Apthorp Long