Creamer (part of hot-beverage service)
Robert Riddle Jarvie (American, 1865–1941)
Object Place: Chicago, Illinois, United States
12.2 x 15.8 x 7.6 cm (4 13/16 x 6 1/4 x 3 in.)
Medium or Technique
Not On View
The vessel is elliptical in section, with seamed and very slightly curving sides. The bottom is flat, and the concave shoulder has an affixed band of reeding. The handle is made of wood. Below the molded band is bright-cut dotted lines and an engraved and chased floral band with a dotted line ground.
Robert Riddle Jarvie, the self-taught Chicago metalsmith, began to publicize his wares in House Beautiful in 1901. Although he initially billed himself as “The Candlestick Maker,” by 1904 Jarvie had expanded his wares and received special mention in The Craftsman for his graceful work in brass, copper, and silver. Between 1905 and 1910, he fashioned objects almost exclusively in silver and gold, many of which were commissioned as presentation gifts.
About 1912 Jarvie attracted the attention of Arthur G. Leonard (1862 – 1949), president of the Union Stock Yard Company. Leonard became an important patron, providing Jarvie with a studio on the company compound and commissioning numerous trophies as prizes for cattlemen at local livestock fairs. According to oral history, this beverage service is associated with Leonard’s firm. Presumably, it was purchased by a company vice president as a wedding gift for his daughter.
The service owes a great debt to the work of colonial silversmith Paul Revere. A set that matches this one was illustrated as “Revere-Jarvie Silver” in the June 1914 issue of Art Progress. The accompanying article cited Jarvie’s preference for Revere’s domestic designs and explained that Jarvie adapted the forms from an original Revere teapot, altering the spouts and handle. Jarvie also designed and executed a complete set of flatware to accompany the service.
The decoration and design relate directly to a Revere tea service that has been in the Museum of Fine Arts collection since 1896 (fig. 3). It has been suggested that Jarvie consulted published material, such as the 1906 or 1911 MFA exhibition catalogues that featured this Revere set. Despite the professed homage to Revere, the work of William Moulton may have served as a design source as well. A Moulton teapot, which was also illustrated in the 1906 catalogue, has a similar pinecone finial with cut-silver leaves and curved spout.6 Jarvie’s handsomely designed and finely crafted hot-beverage service demonstrates the parallel evolution of the Colonial Revival style in Chicago, beyond its epicenter in Boston.
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.
Engraved initial: "F"
STERLING Jarvie 2013/1
Oral tradition relates that this coffee set was acquired from the silversmith by a vice president of Union Stock Yard Company for his daughter; it was sold at a Chicago auction house about 1984. Victorian Chicago, an antiques dealer, acquired the set and sold it to ARK Antiques. It was purchased from ARK Antiques, New Haven, Connecticut, in 1987.
Museum purchase with funds donated by a friend of the Department of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture, John H. and Ernestine A. Payne Fund, and Curator's Fund