John Doane (1719–1767)

Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts


13.5 x 14 x 8.1 cm (5 5/16 x 5 1/2 x 3 3/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


On View

Amelia Peabody Gallery (Gallery 137)




Silver hollowware

The raised tulip-shaped vessel is soldered to a splayed, molded, cast foot with an applied foot ring. A stepped molded band is applied to the lip. The cast double-scrolled handle has a foliate thumbgrip, flattened buds, and a tendril at its terminus. A small circular air vent is found underneath the bud and the tendril. An extended socket is used for upper joining, and an elliptical disk is employed at lower join of handle to body.

Along with a tankard and a porringer bearing the same maker’s mark, this cann was once attributed to John Doane’s older brother Joshua Doane (1717 – 1753), of Providence, Rhode Island. Both men probably apprenticed with John Burt, and in the 1740s the younger Doane may have worked with William Simpkins. Despite John Doane’s respectable career in public service as a constable and treasurer in Boston, his grandfather left him only twenty shillings in 1755 as punishment for his “ill, wild Carriage.” Doane may have left Boston shortly thereafter for Barbados, where he died in 1767.
Doane’s pride in workmanship is evident in this cann, which has cleanly cast elements and ample proportions The tiny air vents on the handle are carefully made and delicately placed, unlike the coarse gashes found on the work of most silversmiths of the period, including that of his master. This cann is one of only three objects that have been identified by Doane’s rectangular mark.

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.


Later engraving in script appears on vessel in two areas opposite the handle. Below the lip are the script initials "MW / 1858." A larger circular device flanked by crossed palms is similarly engraved "WW to TLJ" within reserve.


To the left of handle is marked "I [pellet] DOANE" in roman letters within a rectangle


Original owners unknown; purchased in the twentieth century by the donor and made a gift in 1992.

Credit Line

Gift of the Wunsch Foundation in Recognition of Kathryn C. Buhler