Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
16.1 x 40.5 x 20.2 cm (6 5/16 x 15 15/16 x 7 15/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Not On View
A narrow stamped band with a delicate acorn-and-oak-leaf motif enlivens and strengthens the crenelated rim of the oblong bowl of the monteith, which curves down and in toward the conforming short-waisted base trimmed with an applied band of gadrooning and set on ball feet. Looped cast handles are attached to each narrow side of the bowl at the rim.
The town of Boston responded exuberantly to the nation’s first great naval victory of the War of 1812, when Comm. Oliver Hazard Perry (1785 – 1819) defeated the entire British fleet on Lake Erie, regaining control of the lake and, thereby, the Northwest Territory. In the tradition of the tea service made by Paul Revere and presented to Edmund Hartt, builder of the frigate Constitution, funds were raised through public subscription to commission a much larger silver service containing more than three dozen pieces. A part of that tribute for the hero of Lake Erie, this monteith and pitcher, each originally one of a pair, represent nationally significant nineteenth-century presentation silver that is important in Boston as well.
The Columbian Centinel described the service as “of the most elegant order, and executed with a skill and workmanship, which does honor to the Mecanics of Boston … massy and rich … equally calculated for ornament and usefullness… . The inscriptions were engraved by Mr. Joseph Callender in his well-known excellent style.” The report listed the major pieces in the service as “A Saber … Two ice pails or decanter Coolers, barrel shape [see fig. 3] … Two pitchers, of a large size, Chinese shape … Two dozen tumblers, plain barrel shape, Wine Glass Coolers, each to hold a dozen glasses … A Coffee Pot, Tea Pot, Sugar Bowl, Cream Ewer, Tea Cady, and Slop Bowl.” The oblong shapes, ball feet, “bright” gadrooned decoration, and (on the tea service) bands of “impressed roses” were all noted proudly.
The monteith’s high-style English origins lend dignity and importance to Churchill and Treadwell’s example, doubly so when originally presented as a pair. Although oblong-shaped bodies were common in teapots, coffeepots, creamers, and sugar bowls, this rectangular monteith and its mate may be unique. The term “Wine Glass Coolers” describes the purpose of the bowls to hold stemmed glasses, safely separated by the rim’s crevices, inverted in cold water.
Much of Churchill’s known work is severely plain. However, the clean, graceful lines and highly polished, smooth surfaces of both wine glass cooler and pitcher contrast with a variety of rich but subtle embellishments. The pitcher’s ginger-jar-shaped body and handle, whose form resembles the brushstrokes of a Chinese character, reflect the prized porcelain vessels of Boston’s famous China Trade. The rich texture and quick rhythm of bright gadrooned edges balance the slower curves and plain surfaces of the vessels. The inscriptions set under a hero’s laurel wreath were engraved by Joseph Callender, whose hand is found on the work of Zachariah Brigden, among other prominent Boston smiths of the previous generation.
By 1812, in a series of silver eagle standards made for local military groups, Churchill began to incorporate into his work the most popular of the new national American symbols. The ring handles of the Perry decanter coolers are suspended from the beaks of eagles’ heads. In 1816 the partners produced a presentation piece in the form of a large covered vase that incorporated all the embellishments used in the Perry service, with the addition of paw feet, a lobed body, a fluted cover, and a lush fruit finial, in an expression of the fully developed American Empire style.
Although the establishment of their partnership demonstrates Daniel Treadwell’s competence as a silversmith and his importance to Churchill, he did not linger in the trade. By 1817 Treadwell is absent from the Boston tax records, and Churchill is listed alone. Treadwell’s passion lay in mechanical experiments. He invented screw-making and nail-making machines, devised improvements for printing presses, and patented “Treadwells Power Press” on March 2, 1826. More inventions and patents in other industrial processes followed, with Treadwell eventually being recruited by Harvard College in 1834 as Rumford Professor and Lecturer on the Application of Science to the Useful Arts.
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.
Inscribed on front: "Com. O.H. Perry / Conquered the Enemy / on Lake Erie / Sept. 10, 1813"; on back: "Presented / by the Citizens / of Boston"
On the bottom "Churchill & Treadwell" in a rectangle stamped twice and "573-842 or 873-842 / S19596" scratched into the surface.
From Oliver Hazard Perry (1785 – 1819), m. Elizabeth Champlin Mason (1791 – 1858) in 1811; to their son Oliver Hazard Perry (1815 – 1878), m. Elizabeth Ann Randolph (1816 – 1847) in 1837; to their daughter Annie Maria Perry (1838 – 1865), m. James Jackson Storrow (1837 – 1897) in 1861; to their son James Jackson Storrow (1864 – 1926), m. Helen Osborne (b.1864) in 1891; to their son James Jackson Storrow (1892 – 1977), m. Margaret Randolph Rotch (1896 – 1945) in 1916; to their son James Jackson Storrow (1917 – 1984); to his son James Storrow, the donor.
Gift of the Storrow Family