Salt Spoon (one of four)

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

Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


1.8 x 10.2 cm (11/16 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.


Family history records that James Swan (1755 – 1828) and his wife, Hepzibah Clarke (d. 1826), m. 1776, were the first owners, but the unidentifiable crest suggests that the silver probably entered the family through the marriage one of their three daughters, perhaps Chritiana Keadie Swan (1779 – 1867) and John Turner Sargent (1769 – 1813), m. 1806.4 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), m. 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 Helena Apthorp Thompson Long (1911 – 1994), the donors.

Credit Line

Gift of Mary Sargent Thompson and Helena Apthorp Long