Teapot

about 1745–54
Samuel Burt (1724–1754)


Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

Dimensions

12.7 x 22.8 cm (5 x 9 in.)

Accession Number

1982.651

Medium or Technique

Silver

Not On View

Collections

Americas

Classifications

Silver hollowware

The raised apple-shaped teapot has a drawn, molded, splayed foot ring. The lower section of the cast twelve-sided scallop-edged spout is affixed over strainer holes; the upper section is in the form of a C scroll; the V-shaped spout has retracted upper lip. The five-part hinge, set flush with the body, operates a flat bezel-set circular lid with small circular air vent. The finial has a bell-shaped tip, turned wooden knob, and turned base and is attached inside the lid with notched silver nut and screw. The wooden handle, probably replaced, has been set into sockets with pins. The cast upper socket has an abstract leaf motif above and a drop below; the lower socket is unadorned. Both are circular and scored at end. Engraved ornamentation on shoulder consists of foliate and scrolled decoration within which are set diaper-patterned sections. Leafy repeating pattern scrolls appear at perimeter of lid.


As with the Hurd and Edwards families, John Burt and his three sons, Samuel, William, and Benjamin, formed a multigenerational silversmithing dynasty in colonial Boston. Samuel, the eldest, fashioned an impressive amount of silver during his brief career.
Burt would have just finished his apprenticeship at the time of his father’s death in 1745. He probably ran the workshop after that date while completing the training of his younger brothers. A wide range of hollowware among Samuel’s three dozen known works demonstrates his full mastery of his father’s skills. Nearly one-third of Samuel’s silver is in the Museum’s collection, including this teapot and another (cat. no. 23), the only known examples of this form to survive with his mark.
Both teapots are of the globular apple form popular during the early and mid-eighteenth century and resemble those produced by his father. Samuel may have used the molds in his father’s shop, for the faceted scalloped spout appears to be the same as that used by John Burt. The spout’s similarity to examples by Jacob Hurd and Josiah Austin, among others, may point to the existence of one shop that provided spouts and other cast elements for craftsmen in the close-knit Boston silversmithing community. Since the forms of both teapots are nearly identical — they are distinguished solely by their engraving — they demonstrate the choices made by patrons willing to pay for this additional decoration.

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 base is incised the following numbers: 85863, 84008 , 84043, 85439. The Barrett family arms on a sheild are emblazoned ermine, on a fess, three lions rampant. Crest is a lion couchant ppr. The whole surrounded by a broad scrolled, foliate, and diapered cartouche.

Markings

Stamped "SAMUEL BURT" in script within a shaped cartouche four times around center point.
Ada Mark X

Provenance

No history of descent is known. The family suggests possible descent through the Codman and Paine families, but the arms appear to be those of the Barrett family. The Barrett arms as seen here were probably adapted from Blyth, as recorded in the Promptuarium Armorum of 1610. The arms are documented in this country on the tombstone of Col. James Barrett of Concord, who died in 1779.

Credit Line

Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Somers H. Sturgis