Sugar bowl (part of a three-piece presentation tea service)
William Gale, Sr. (American, 1799–1864)
Object Place: New York, New York, United States
Overall: 23.2 x 24 x 13.9 cm (9 1/8 x 9 7/16 x 5 1/2 in.)
Medium or Technique
Not On View
The sugar bowl has a raised body, elliptical in form, with large lobes and applied bands of floral decoration. The sugar bowl has a separate matching cover with a compote-shaped cast finial with floral decoration. The three piece sits on a raised and stepped elliptical base.
The piece has a stamped floral molding below a stepped foot that forms the shaft supporting the oval body. The lowest part of the body is melon ribbed, the central rib bearing the engraved initials. Above the melon ribbing is the engraved inscription, with another stamped band of flowers above. The cover fits into a stamped floral band, identical to the one around the base and above the engraved inscription. The stepped lid terminates in a floral compote. The piece has scrolled handles.
This robust, richly decorated tea service was presented on November 24, 1824, to Dr. William Fleet Piatt (1788 – 1849), a leading figure in New York’s Free Masonry movement, by his Masonic lodge known as Morton Encampment No. 4.
The fashionably large elliptical bodies, broad melon gad-rooning, and multiple decorative bands are characteristic of the period’s exuberant loosening of the restraints of the earlier Neoclassical forms and motifs. Although presented as a matching set, the service was produced by two New York City silversmiths working in separate shops. Perhaps time constraints or cost concerns determined the use of two shops. The applied bands, cast finials, and handles may have been produced by either silversmith (or another supplier) and wholesaled to the other. The inscriptions are identical on all three pieces and appear to be the hand of a single engraver.
The teapot bears the mark of Peter Chitry, who appeared in the city directories from 1812 through 1836. The details of Chitry’s early life are unknown, but scholars have surmised that he was born in France and as a child immigrated with his family to the island of Santo Domingo and then to New York City, where he may have received his training from the Forbes family of silversmiths.
The matching creampot and sugar bowl carry the mark of William Gale. A native of New York State, Gale was said to have apprenticed with and subsequently purchased the silversmithing business of John and Peter Targee. Gale worked with John Stickler (Gale & Stickler) from 1821 to 1822, the first two years of his long career in New York City. He worked alone in 1823/24, the period during which this creampot and sugar bowl were made. Although he later formed various partnerships, from the start Gale’s inventive and entrepreneurial talents drove his silverware business. In 1826, early in his career, he obtained a patent for improved roller dies for the manufacture of patterned flatware, which gave him a leading role in the industry for the fourteen years he controlled the patent (see cat. nos. 190 – 93).
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.
"WCP" on center lobe and "Presented by Morton Encampment No.4 to Wm F. Piatt M.E.P.G. / Commander as a testimony of respect & esteem New York Nov 26th 1824" in script on right side
"W. GALE" in roman letters on bottom. Star above, lion walking within a cartouch below, male profile in oval to the left, crowned head in sheild to the right.
Dr. William Fleet Piatt to his daughter Eliza Piatt Burgess; to her son William Piatt Burgess; to his sister Clara Nye Burgess Marston; to her son James H. C. Marston; to his daughter Genevieve Burgess Marston Darden, the donor.
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Hugh B. Darden