Teapot (part of coffee and tea service)

about 1821
Or John Sayre (American, 1771–1852)


Object Place: New York, New York, United States

Dimensions

19.05 x 25.4 x 8.57 cm (7 1/2 x 10 x 3 3/8 in.)

Accession Number

1994.293.3

Medium or Technique

Silver

Not On View

Collections

Americas

Classifications

Silver hollowware

The teapot has a fluted paneled body with a milled band of oak leaves and grapes at the shoulder and a milled gadrooned border at the rim; the hinged lid has an oblong finial with a gadrooned rim; a plain, wrought, curved spout; a pedestal base with a conforming border; and a curved handle with wooden insulators terminating in an eagle’s head.


This five-piece tea set descended through four generations of the same family, from its original owners to its donor, and was a treasured, frequently used heirloom. Family members had distinguished careers in the law and in the Navy. According to family history, the set was made for a wedding in 1821, suggesting that it may be the work of John Sayre, as opposed to his brother Joel, who died in 1818. However, the mark on the set is usually attributed to Joel.
The set is distinguished by its imposing fluted form and its milled bands of gadrooning and oak leaves and grapes. Slightly lighter in feeling than later Empire forms, the set retains some of the flavor of earlier Federal forms. Its most distinctive feature, however, and the one that elevates it above the ordinary, is the superbly rendered cast terminals on the boldly curved handles. These eagle’s-head ornaments reflect the Neoclassical emphasis on animal imagery and are seen on other examples of Sayre’s work, including a closely related tea set made for John L. Woodworth of Albany, New York.

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

"A E H" in shaded Old English capitals engraved, possibly later, on side. "22oz9" on bottom

Markings

"J.Sayre" in script in shaped cartouche struck on underside.

Provenance

According to the donor, the original owner was Anne Erwin (1803-1854), wife of Henry Hitchcock (1792-1839); to their son Ethan Allen Hitchcock (1835-1909) and Margaret Collier, m. 1869; to their daughter, Anne Erwin Hitchcock (1875-1960) and Admiral William S. Sims, m. 1905; to their daughter Anne Sims Morrison (b. 1914), nee Anne Hitchcock Sims, the donor.

Credit Line

Gift of Anne Sims Morison in memory of my mother, Mrs. William S. Sims