Tankard

1698–1708
Richard Conyers (American (born in England), 1666–1708 or 1709)


Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

Dimensions

13 x 14.5 x 8.2 cm (5 1/8 x 5 11/16 x 3 1/4 in.)

Accession Number

1980.278

Medium or Technique

Silver

On View

Manning House (Gallery LG36)

Collections

Americas

Classifications

Silver hollowware

The small raised tankard has straight tapering sides and crisply drawn, molded base and lip, all of finely scaled proportions. The gadrooned stepped lid has a scored crenate lip. The scrolled thumbpiece descends to a five-part hinge with wigglework decoration, and the seamed S-scroll handle has chased reeding that ends in a small scroll, with a cast cherub at terminus. It is attached to the vessel with an attenuated rattail drop at upper join and directly to handle at the base. An added spout was removed at an unknown date.


The son of a saddler, Richard Conyers was trained in London before arriving in Boston about 1698. Despite his London apprenticeship, and the chasing assistance of Swedish-born Henry Hurst (about 1666 – 1717/18), who for a brief time served as his indentured servant, Conyers encountered financial troubles and was unable to fully establish himself in his adopted city. Only seven known examples bear Conyers’s mark.1 Despite the lack of finished, marked work, Conyers’s talent and knowlege of recent English fashions likely made him attractive to established Boston silversmiths as a journeyman or special-order silversmith. Future scholars may discern his accomplishments in objects made in the shops of better-established Boston silversmiths.
This diminutive tankard’s crisp detailing, as found in the gadrooned lid, crenate lip, and cast cherub’s mask terminal, exemplifies the urbane high style that Conyers and other English immigrants imparted to the Boston trade at the turn of the century. His mark, placed in the English manner on both the lid and body, is perhaps a vestige of his early training.

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 "R / T * I" in shaded roman letters on bottom of tankard, over center point.

Markings

To right of handle and on top of lid is stamped "RC" below a crown, within a shield-shaped cartouche.

Provenance

Andrew Metropolis of Peabody, Massachusetts to Stuart Alan Goldman of Randolph, Massachusetts;1980, gift of Stuart Alan Goldman to MFA. (Accession date: Sept 10, 1980)

Credit Line

Gift of Stuart Alan Goldman and Marion E. Davis Fund