Object Place: Albany, New York
Overall: 24.1 x 4.4 cm (9 1/2 x 1 3/4 in.)
Medium or Technique
Not On View
Tear-drop shaped bowl with flat rim. Flaring handle with hexagonal shaped top. Joint between bowl and handle is flat with engraved line, pointed arch. Inscription at top of handle in block letters (front): “A MEMORIAL OF” and down front of handle in script: “Chris.t A Yates who died Nov.r 8th 1809”. On back of handle engraved in script letters: “A.B.” Mark on back of handle, middle: “SHEPHERD & BOYD” in scallop-edged rectangle.
Robert Shepherd and William Boyd learned their trade from Albany silversmiths Isaac (1767-1855) and George Hutton (1773-1855). By the fall of 1806, the former apprentices had formed a partnership that produced a multitude of silver wares; they also sold a wide range of goods, from brass, lacquered, or gilt lamps to spectacles and hair powder. Their silver follows the late Neoclassical, or Empire, style, and is often ornamented with bold gadrooning and figural finials.
Like their masters, Shepherd and Boyd made funeral, or memorial spoons such as this. The practice of presenting an engraved spoon to friends of the deceased was common in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, particularly among the New York Dutch. The number of surviving spoons demonstrates that the tradition continued in Albany into the early nineteenth century. Christopher A Yates (1739-1809), son of Adam and Anna Gerritsen Yates and a member of Albany’s politically prominent Yates family, died on November 8, 1809, at age seventy-one. He had married Catharina Waters on July 16, 1766, with whom he had seven children, including twin sons. The “AB” initials on the back of the handle probably represent the person for whom the spoon was made.
This funeral spoon is part of a collection of thirty-five pieces of eighteenth and early-nineteenth-century American flatware given to the Museum in 2004 by the daughter of silver collectors Estelle S and Harris a Solomon.
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 at top of handle in block letters (front): "A MEMORIAL OF" and down front of handle in script: "Chris.r A Yates who died Novr 8.th 1809". On back of handle engraved in script letters: "A.B."
Mark on back of handle, middle: "SHEPHERD & BOYD" in scallop-edged rectangle.
Spoon collection of Mr. and Mrs. Gerald W. Rothschild, Fayetteville, NY. Given to the donor by her parents, Estelle S and Harris A Solomon, who collected colonial American silver spoons.
The Estelle S. and Harris A. Solomon Collection—Gift of their daughter Carol Soloman Rothschild