Porringer

about 1710
Edward Webb (American, born in England, 1666–1718)


Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

Dimensions

5.4 x 20 cm (2 1/8 x 7 7/8 in.)

Accession Number

1992.271

Medium or Technique

Silver

Not On View

Collections

Americas

Classifications

Silver hollowware

The raised porringer has a center punch evident inside its domed bowl; convex sides and everted rim; and a cast geometric handle soldered to rim.


The handsome geometric handle of this porringer is seemingly identical to at least three other known examples by Edward Webb, attesting to the popularity of this design in Boston at the beginning of the eighteenth century. The vessel is also one of several works in the Museum’s collection that were owned by Loyalist and silversmith-turned-merchant Rufus Greene. In addition to a pepper box, or caster, made by Greene and owned by the craftsman and his wife, Katherine Stanbridge, the couple also owned a tankard by Boston silversmith David Jesse.
Both Webb and Jesse were dead before Greene came of age, and their silver was probably made when he was a child. How the vessels came into his possession is unclear.
In the years between 1728, the year in which Greene began to practice independently as a silversmith, and 1749, when he is first listed in the public records as a merchant, the former craftsman gradually turned to more profitable mercantile pursuits that included land speculation and the sale of rum and sugar. Success in these enterprises brought the means to furnish Greene’s comfortable household with such items as heraldic embroideries, leather chairs, and other upholstered goods; portraits of the couple were painted by John Singleton Copley about 1758 – 61. It is possible that the Webb porringer, Jesse tankard, and Greene pepper box were the same as those listed in the former silversmith’s probate inventory.

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

On handle, facing away from bowl, over effaced initials is "G / R [arrow pointing upward] K." Later engraving "Rufus Greene & Katherine Stanbridge / Married / December 11. 1728." appears on base of bowl in script.

Markings

Within the bowl and above the center point is stamped "EW" within a rectangle.

Provenance

Original owners unknown. Acquired by the silversmith and merchant Rufus Greene (1707-1777) and his wife, Katherine Stanbridge (about 1708-1768), who were married in 1728. [1] By descent to their daughter C/Katherine Greene (1731-1777) and John Amory (1728-1803) m. 1757; to their daughter, Rebecca Amory (b. 1771) and John Lowell (1769-1840) m. 1793; to their son, the Hon. John Amory Lowell (1798-1881) and his second wife, Elizabeth Cabot Putnam (1807-1881), m. 1829; [2] to their daughter Ellen/Ella Bancroft Lowell (1837-1894) and Arthur Theodore Lyman (1832-1915), m. 1858; [3] to their son, Ronald Theodore Lyman (1879-1962) and Elizabeth van Cortlandt Parker (c. 1883-1953) m. 1904. [4] By descent to their son John Lowell Lyman (1915-1986) and Cynthia Forbes (B. 1918), m. 1942, the donor.

1. Kane 1998, p. 509-10.

2. Elizabeth Cabot Putnam and Harriet Silvester Tapley, The HOnorable Samuel Putnam & Saral (Gooll) Putnam with a Genealogical Record of their Descendants (Danvers, Ma.: Reprinted from the Danvers Historical Collections, Vol. X), p. 35-6.

3. Delmar R. Lowell, The Historic Genealogy of the Lowells in America 1639-1899 (Rutlant, Vt.: Published by the author, Tuttle Co., printers, 1899), p. 221.

4. Fiftieth Anniversary Report, Harvard Class of 1902 (Cambridge: Printed for the Class, 1952), pp. 415-16; Fiftieth Anniversary Report, Harvard Class of 1937 (Cambridge: Printed for the Class, 1986), pp. 451-52; Massachusetts Vital Records, Index to Marriages 547-654; Massachusetts Vital Records, Index to Deaths 97:402; 103:7.

Credit Line

Gift in loving memory of John Lowell Lyman