Cream pitcher

Pear & Bacall (American, acive 1848–1876)

Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


8.7 x 17.2 x 8.6 cm (3 7/16 x 6 3/4 x 3 3/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View




Silver hollowware

The vessel has a spherical body with an overall applied abstract decoration of double rows of button-centered bosses with raised outer rings and centers, separated by stylized vertical waves. It features a cast looped handle terminating in an applied foliate ornament and ring feet with applied beaded decoration, repeated at the rim.

The strong, inventive design of this tea service may refer to an ancient Roman motif used in ceramics, or it may be derived from an exotic, abstract Moorish textile design. The rich vocabulary employed by American artists in the third quarter of the nineteenth century illustrated the era’s fascination with historic and exotic design sources from around the world.
Only a few other objects bearing the Pear & Bacall mark are known. Mostly flatware, these pieces are in the conventional “olive” or “tipped” patterns long produced by many makers and of conventional construction. The construction of this tea service, however, is highly unconventional. The decorative pattern on the body of the wares does not relate to the placement of the spout or handle: unlike the body design, they are neither unusual in form or manufacture but are simply placed where utility demands.
Born in Roxbury, Massachusetts, to English immigrant parents, Edward Pear probably apprenticed in Boston with Lewis Cary, Moses Morse, or John B. Jones, launching his own shop in 1829. He took his brother-in-law Thomas Bacall into the business in 1848 and probably taught his sons, who later began their own firm. Described as “thriving” in their fourth decade by the R. G. Dun financial report, this small family firm managed to compete with the large silverware manufacturers then coming of age in New England.

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.


“Pear & Bacall” within a rectangle, “Boston” incuse, and “Coin” in Gothic letters struck incuse on bottom.


Early history unknown. The set passed from Thalia James Hall to her son Winthrop Hall, the donor.

Credit Line

Gift of Winthrop Hall in memory of Thalia James Hall