about 1690
John Coney (American, 1655 or 1656–1722)

Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts


4.3 x 18.7 cm (1 11/16 x 7 3/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


On View

Burton A. Cleaves Gallery (Gallery LG27)




Silver flatware

Slightly upturned trifid-end handle having a swaged shell over scrolled and beaded design on handle at tip. Back of elliptical bowl has tapered scroll and foliate ornament flanking a slender, ribbed rattail. Casting flaw on back of handle may mask another mark, as noted above.

These are among at least five trifid-handled spoons made by Coney for the Shrimpton family; all bear foliated bowl and scrolled handle decoration. Kathryn C. Buhler believed that the presence of an obliterated heart-shaped mark on a Coney spoon in the Yale collection pointed to the use of an English model cast by Coney. Certainly many spoons in this style were brought to this country through trade or immigration, whereas others were made here using English or colonial-made swages. An example of imported swages may be inferred from the “plaine and flower’d Spoon Swages” noted in the 1718 shop inventory of Edward Webb; these were probably brought here by the silversmith in 1704 upon his emigration from London. Other Boston makers who produced trifid-handled spoons with similar bowls include Jeremiah Dummer, John Edwards, and Edward Winslow.

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.


"MS" in shaded roman letters engraved on back of handle; later initials "H / I * E" added above the former at the tip of the handle and in a similar style of lettering.


On back of handle near bowl is stamped "IC" over a fleur de lis, all within a heart-shaped device; a second, oval, obliterated mark, possibly a flaw, also appears on back of handle.


Mary Shrimpton (1667 – 1746) of Salem, m. 1692 Robert Gibbs (1665 – 1702); By descent (1) to Lois Esselen (b. 1918), wife of Arthur R Currier (1918 – 1988); 1990, gift of Mrs. Currier to the MFA. (Accession date: June 27, 1990)

1: To her daughter and namesake, Mary Gibbs (1699 – 1761), m. 1719 the Rev. John Cotton (1693 – 1757); to their daughter Elizabeth Cotton (1722 – 1782) m. 1750 Jonathan Hastings (1708/9 – 1783); to their son John (1754 – 1839) m. 1783 Lydia Trowbridge Dana (1755 – 1808); to their daughter Elmira Hastings (1794 – 1857) m.1815 Reuben Parker; to their son Samuel Parker (1824 – 1894), m. 1846 Thirza Burrage Ballard (1828 – 1904); to their daughter Mary Louise Parker Fairbanks Clark (b. 1862) and her second husband, Charles Clark (b. 1859); to their daughter Thirza Fairbanks Clark (1884 – 1978), m. 1911 William B. Esselen; to their daughter Helen Esselen (1916 – 1992); to her sister, Lois.

Credit Line

Gift in memory of Ruth P. and Pauline Dennis