Serving spoon (one of a set of ten)

about 1790
Abraham Dubois (about 1751–1807)

Object Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States


4.3 x 24.1 cm (1 11/16 x 9 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View




Silver flatware

The spoon has a slightly pointed spatulate handle with bright-cut edges and a medallion enclosing script initials, bellflowers, short midrib on back, and pointed oval bowl decorated on back with crested bird on a perch, holding a branch in its beak, and rounded drop.

Although relatively little of his work is known, Abraham Dubois was an accomplished silversmith in Philadelphia during the federal period. The teaspoons, with their bright-cut borders and medallions with bellflowers on the end, demonstrate the high quality of engraved work produced by his shop. The ladle varies in detail but is engraved with the same original initials.
The bird figure on the back of the teaspoon bowls is the result of the skills of a diesinker, a specialist craftsman who created the image on an iron die that the silversmith later used to transfer to the spoon. Several diesinkers were active in Philadelphia at the time these spoons were made.

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.


"JSM" in script engraved on handle


"A. DUBOIS" in a rectangle on back of handle


Early history unknown. Presumably owned by Jane Coy Derr (d. 1955) and inherited by her daughter-in-law Mrs. Thomas (Mary S.) Derr (d. 1988) of Brookline, Massachusetts, who placed them on loan to the Museum in 1952. They descended in the family and were given by the grandchildren of Jane Coy Derr in 1996.

Credit Line

Gift of the Grandchildren of Jane Coy Derr