Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Overall: 2.6 x 26.8 cm, 0.56 kg (1 x 10 9/16 in., 1.23 lb.)
Medium or Technique
Not On View
The salver is a stamped shallow form with three cast feet and an applied stamped band on the rim. The interior is densely engraved with concentric rings of flat geometric shapes, punctuated with medallions depicting a lady, a knight, and two interlaced strapwork motifs. The strapwork motif engraved under the pitcher’s spout is repeated at the center of the salver. Central “cypher” resembles elaborate entwined monograms popular in the later nineteenth century.
This Gorham-manufactured pitcher was retailed as part of a set by Newell Harding & Co. of Boston, a well-known manufacturer of flatware; only the salver is marked by Harding. The firm’s hollowware production, especially works dated after the 1862 death of Newell Harding Sr., remains unclear. The relationship with Gorham may have developed from Harding’s early association with H. L. Webster of Providence. Webster worked with Jabez Gorham in that city in 1831 and invested in Harding’s firm in 1841.
By the 1860s, Gorham offered hollowware in a wide variety of styles. The Harding firm may have purchased the water pitcher and then further embellished it, along with a salver of their own or another’s manufacture, to create a marketable set. Both pieces have central engravings of a complex strapwork design entwined with a sprigged vine within a reserve, which resemble the elaborate entwined monograms popular in the later nineteenth century. The newly fashionable Renaissance-revival-style strapwork and portrait medallions may have been engraved in Providence or Boston. Harding & Co.’s letterhead was embellished with a similar strapwork-style ornament.
The delicately modeled and cast catfish mask at the base of the pitcher’s spout is set against a grouping of cattails, providing a dramatic contrast to the smooth, highly polished surface of the body. The mark includes the pattern number “430,” although Carpenter has noted that these numbers seem to have been assigned arbitrarily and not sequentially; nor do they always indicate the same form. The exact date of the first use of the “lion-anchor-G” logo is unknown, but it was in use by the mid-1850s. Silverware such as this pitcher, bearing only the logo and a pattern number, was known to have been made by Gorham from 1863 through 1865.3 Gorham sold mainly to the trade during this period, and solid silver hollowware from the region’s largest wholesaler stocked many shops, such as Newell Harding & Co. on Court Street 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.
"N. HARDING & CO." incised in uppercase Roman letters on the bottom.
Ada Mark X
Purchased from the Boston shop of Herbert Gebelein in 1986 and presented as a gift to the Museum by Mr. and Mrs. Henry L. Mason.
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Henry L. Mason