Samuel Parmele (1737–1807)

Object Place: Guilford, Connecticut


15.1 x 14.9 x 8.1 cm (5 15/16 x 5 7/8 x 3 3/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View




Silver hollowware

The raised tulip-shaped vessel has a broad base that tapers inward near upper join of handle before expanding to a small mouth with thin molding. The cast splayed foot is thickly soldered to the body. A cast double-scroll handle with acanthus leaf at thumb-
grip and tendril near teminus is soldered directly to the vessel; a circular air vent is beneath the terminus. At the foot of the vessel, opposite the handle, is a large poorly executed repair to a crack about 2 inches (5.1 cm) long.

After training with an unknown smith, perhaps in nearby New Haven, Connecticut, Parmelee spent his silversmithing career in the town of Guilford, his birthplace. From about 1756 until 1770, when he began his service as a lieutenant in the Seventh Regiment during the Revolutionary War, Parmelee produced a small but fine assortment of Georgian and Rococo forms, beginning with his earliest dated work, a heart-shaped engraved pendant dated 1756. His other silver works include three-legged creamers and salts, shell-backed spoons, and a snuffbox of tortoiseshell and silver. Prestigious commissions from the First Church of Guilford include a baptismal basin and beaker. Following the war, he may have sold some jewelry but little or no hollowware. The few tools enumerated in an inventory of his estate in 1807 suggest that by that date, Parmelee had long since ceased silversmithing.
This cann is one of at least two made by Parmelee. Nearly identical in weight and size, they also share a double-scroll handle with acanthus thumbgrip. The similarly awkward treatment of these pear-shaped vessels, each perched on a tall splayed foot with a thinly applied lip molding, indicate that they were probably made within a short time of each other.

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.


"B / I * E" is engraved in shaded roman letters over center point.


"S [pellet] P" touchmark in a shaped cartouche is stamped on base of tankard, below center point.


Early history unkown.

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. Samuel Nickerson in memory of Samuel Mayo Nickerson