Teapot

about 1745–54
Samuel Burt (1724–1754)


Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

Dimensions

Overall: 12.4 x 23.4 cm, 0.48 kg (4 7/8 x 9 3/16 in., 1.06 lb.)

Accession Number

1985.327

Medium or Technique

Silver

Not On View

Collections

Americas

Classifications

Silver hollowware

The raised globular vessel, with center point visible at base, has a splayed molded foot soldered to its body. A flat circular lid seats in a bezel soldered inside the rim. The three-part hinge, probably modern, rises above the lid, partially obscuring engraved decoration at the shoulder. The three-part finial has a bell-shaped tip, turned wooden center, and small base; an air vent is adjacent to the finial, facing the handle. The original or early wooden handle bears traces of paint and is set into circular handle sockets. The upper larger socket has foliate decoration at the thumbgrip and a delicate baluster drop below. 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 a retracted upper lip. Foliate and diaper-patterned engraving appears around the edge of the lid and on shoulder.


This teapot is the plainer of two examples by Samuel Burt in the Museum’s collection (see also cat. no. 22). It bears the initials of a member of the Vergoose family and offers an opportunity to consider how many silversmiths could be patronized by related members of a Boston family. The accompanying photograph (fig. 1) also demonstrates how later generations used colonial silver along with silver of more recent vintage. A Hull and Sanderson porringer bears the initials of Isaac (1637 – 1710) and his first wife, Mary Vergoose (1648 – 1690); a spoon by Jeremiah Dummer (Yale University Art Gallery) carries the initals “M  V,” thought to be for the same Mary Vergoose. A Jacob Hurd teapot (27.192) bearing the Fleet arms may have been owned by Isaac’s daughter Elizabeth Vergoose (b. 1694), who m. Thomas Fleet (1685 – 1758) in 1715, or their son John Fleet (1734 – 1806), who m. Elizabeth Cazneau (1742 – 1827) in 1764. A porringer by David Jesse in this volume (cat. no. 90) may also have been owned by the elder Elizabeth Fleet.

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 top of handle socket is engraved "E * F" in shaded roman capitals. Around maker's marks on base in script: "The Gift of Mrs. Sarah Ch [illegible] to Sarah [illegible]." Scratch weight of "15 5" in a modern hand incised at center of base.

Markings

"SAMUEL / BURT" in a shaped cartouche stamped four times around center point on bottom of teapot.
Ada Mark X

Provenance

The initials “E * F” may stand for Elizabeth (Cazneau) Fleet (1742 – 1827), who m. John Fleet (1734 – 1806) in 1764. If so, the teapot would have been made very early in her youth and engraved with her married initials sometime after her marriage. A porringer by David Jesse (1984.515) given by the donors and bearing the same initials, may have belonged to her mother-in-law, Elizabeth (Vergoose) Fleet (b. 1694).2 According to family history, this Burt teapot, the Jesse porringer (1984.515), a London-made creampot, a cup by Nathan Hobbs, and a small cann by Harris, Stanwood and Company, all of which were made a gift to the Museum, were acquired at different dates and passed along the matrilineal line.

The teapot descended in the following manner: From John and Elizabeth (Cazneau) Fleet to their daughter Mary Fleet (1770 – 1815) and Ephraim Eliot, M.D. (1761 – 1827), m. 1793;4 to their daughter Mary Fleet Eliot (1808 – 1897) and her husband, Ezekiel Lincoln (1796 – 1869), of Hingham, Massachusetts, m. 1835; to their daughter Emma Cushman Lincoln (1843 – 1930), wife of Rev. Charles Williams Duane (1837 – 1915), m. 1870;5 to their daughter Louisa Duane (1879 – 1947), wife of Bodine Wallace (1866 – 1952), m. 1913; first to their daughter Louise Bodine Wallace (1914 – 1972) and thence to her sister Emily Duane Wallace (1918 – 1997), who, with her husband, Franklin H. Williams, donated the teapot. The creampot and teapot are visible in a photograph that dates from 1892 – 1902, demonstrating the familial pride in possessions owned by their ancestors.

Credit Line

Gift of Mr. and Mrs Franklin H. Williams in memory of Louise Bodine Wallace