about 1858
Gorham & Company (active 1852–1865), John Gorham (American, 1820–1898)

Object Place: Providence, Rhode Island, United States


Overall: 12.5 x 6.8 cm, 0.09 kg (4 15/16 x 2 11/16 in., 0.2 lb.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Coin silver

Not On View




Silver hollowware

Four oval panels divide the tulip-shaped bowl into quarters; two panels are embellished with repousséd and chased swags of pomegranates and leaves; one contains reserves carrying the inscription. Applied half-round and beaded bands encircle the rim. The waisted stem flares out to a stepped base.

By 1850 the ambitious and innovative John Gorham wished to expand the family operation from spoons and other small goods to include hollowware of the best quality and in the newest styles. To provide extra capital for machinery and skilled labor, he invited his cousins Gorham Thurber and Lewis Dexter Jr. to become partners in Gorham & Company. In this pivotal decade, the firm’s sales increased fourteen-fold, from $29,000 in 1850 to $397,000 in 1859. The number of employees ballooned from fourteen to two hundred. By the end of the 1860s, with employees doubled and revenues almost tripled, Gorham was the largest fine silverware producer in the world.
This richly textured goblet may have been presented to Ophelia Annie Smith of Cambridge on her wedding engagement to Atty. Samuel Snow, son of Caleb Hopkins Snow, M.D. (1796 – 1835), author of A History of Boston, the Metropolis of Massachusetts (Boston: Abel Bowen, 1828).

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.


"Ophelia / Decr 14th 1858"


On underside of bowl: "[lion rampant] [anchor] G / 17 / COIN"
[Carpenter 1982, mark 12]
Ada Mark * F4438


Ophelia Annie Smith (1832 – 1876), m. Samuel Snow (1832 – 1900) in 1861; to their daughter Mabel Snow (b. 1862) and William Vaughn Moses, m. 1896; by descent to their nephew William Bradford Saunders and his wife, Florence S. Baker, the donor.

Credit Line

Gift of Florence S. Baker