Salt spoon (one of four)

about 1783
Paul Revere, Jr. (American, 1734–1818)

Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


1.9 x 10.2 cm (3/4 x 4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View




Silver flatware

The small salt spoon has a swaged scallop-shell bowl with squared shoulders that extends to a rounded, downturned handle with feather-edge decoration.

Scottish-born merchant James Swan served in the Revolutionary War and fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775. With the onset of peacetime, in 1783 Swan ordered from Revere “6 large Silver Spoons,” “10 large tea spoons,” and “6 Silver Table Spoons,” all engraved with crests. In 1785 and again in 1787, the patriot “clean[ed] and ‘burnish[ed]” six salts, possibly English imports, no doubt pitted from frequent use. Although Revere did not record the sale of these spoons to Swan, it is possible they were made within a short time of Swan’s 1783 purchases.

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.


Unidentified crest, possibly adopted by the Swan family, of a long necked bird standing in tall grass on a torse.


Marked "PR" in script within a rectangle on back of handle.


James Swan (about 1750-1831) and Hepzibah Clarke (d. 1826), by descent to one of their three daughters, probably Christiana Keadie Swan (1779-1867) and John Turner Sargent (d. 1813) m. 1806.1 By descent to their son Howard Sargent (1810-1872) and Charlotte Cunningham (1818-1888), m. 1836; to their daughter, Charlotte Howard Sargent (1840-1869) and John D. Parker (1841-1878), m. 1864; to Charlotte's, sister, Alice Wentworth Sargent (1851-about 1929), who married her sister's widower in 1871; to their niece, Mary Frances Thomas (1873-1941), d. unm.; to her descendants, Mary Sargent Thompson (1909-1995) and Helen Apthorp Thompson (1911-1994), the donors.2

1. Lawrence Park, comp., Gilbert Stuart, An Illustrated, Descriptive List of His Works (New York: William Edwin Rudge, 1926), II:729-31.

2. Family Search Ancestral Files: John Turner Sargent (AFN:1KZN-GPP); Christiana Keadie Swan (AFN:!KZN-GQW); Howard Sargent (AFN:1KZP-NNN); General information on Swan's activities and his descendants are found in Jeffrey Munger, "Royal French Furniture in 18th-Century Boston," Howard Creel Collinson, comp. and ed., Versailles: French Court Style and Its Influence, (Toronto: University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies, 1992), pp. 124-25.

Credit Line

Gift of Mary Sargent Thompson and Helena Apthorp Long