about 1725
John Burt (American, 1692/93–1745/46)

Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts


11.9 x 14.6 x 8 cm (4 11/16 x 5 3/4 x 3 1/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View




Silver hollowware

The raised straight-sided cann, tapering slightly toward rim, has a drawn molded base and lip, with drawn midband near lower terminus. The S-scroll handle is heavily worn and dented, with breaks at several points in seam. A rounded drop appears at the upper terminus. The grotesque mask at the repaired lower terminus has a semicircular air vent below.

Barbara McLean Ward has suggested that John Edwards was the probable source for the grotesque mask found on this mug’s terminal since, as early as 1695, Edwards had been actively creating unusual forms, such as the head of a lion and one of a lady. Specialization in areas such as engraving and casting was practical since these tasks required significant working space and particular skills. However, Burt’s partiality to the grotesque face, which he applied to the two tankards and a pair of flagons represented in this catalogue (cat. nos. 15 – 17), along with many others, suggests that he produced them in his own workshop.
This mug appears to be a unique example by Burt, although he made numerous tankards, canns, and other drinking vessels. Most mugs are unembellished; however, Burt added the grotesque mask, a typical tankard ornamentation, on this vessel.

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.


Faint initials on handle read "R / C * E." Scratch weight of "9 " 15" engraved on base, and halo of former museum accession number "2.39" and faint crude initials that include the letter "I" engraved on base. Worn engraving of Andrews or Storer arms displayed within an asymmetrical cartouche, emblazoned argent on a chevron gules between three mullets gules, three quatrefoils pierced. Crest, an unidentified animal. The whole surrounded by broken scrolls and raffles and flanked by floral standards.


To right of handle, within a rounded cartouche, marked "JOHN / BURT" in roman letters.


The arms on the mug are those of either the Andrews or Storer family, yet neither is easily connected by marriage to the Furness family of Boston. It is unclear how or when the mug came into their possession, although it possibly came through a member of the Henchman or Hurd families, with whom they intermarried.

Credit Line

Gift of Anne, George and Jessie Furness