Spout cup


Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts


13.5 x 11.4 x 10.5 cm (5 5/16 x 4 1/2 x 4 1/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View




Silver hollowware

The raised pear-shaped vessel has an applied, molded, and scored lip and a drawn, molded, splayed foot with an applied foot ring. Its cast S-scroll handle is composed of several broken C scrolls, ornamented with sprigs, bud terminals, and a beaded rattail thumbgrip. The seamed teardrop-shaped spout begins above the foot, rising upward in a tubular shape and turning outward at the rim. The raised lid is composed of several stepped forms rising from a flat horizontal rim; the deep flange provides a friction fit between lid and body. The lid is slightly dented below the flattened sphere finial, which is secured from within by peening.

John Edwards’s early spout cups were spherical with cylindrical necks and relate stylistically to an example made during his partnership with John Allen. One was in the shape of a gallipot, a wide, urnlike form that was used for medicinal purposes and was based on ceramic vessels. Three of Edwards’s seven spout cups, dating from about 1712 to 1728, were made in a bulbous, pear-shaped form. The Museum’s two examples (see also cat. no. 50) are in this style, and each displays finely cast handles comprised of S-scrolls, sprigs, and bud terminals that delicately turn to and fro, with beaded rattail decoration on the outer curves.
The Museum’s two examples and a related third in the Winterthur collection reveal Edwards’s ability to fabricate small vessels incrementally different in size yet proportionately made to scale.2 Each would have required that Edwards use handles, foot rings, and spouts that differed by about 1/4 inch (1.5 cm), which he accomplished without any loss of refinement. The Museum’s cups each bear the same tender heart-shaped space cut into the vessel that leads to the spout, similar to at least one example made in London about 1697.3 Perhaps the little symbol, visible only to the server and user, offers mute testimony of familial love.

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.


Engraved "L / C S" on base in shaded roman letters.


Marked to left of handle and on base, over center point,"I E" with a crown above and a fleur-de-lis below, within a shaped cartouche.


The engraved initials are for Charles Little (1685 – 1724) and Sarah Warren (1692 – 1756), m. 1712 in Plymouth, Massachusetts. In 1728, Sarah Warren Little m. second, former Harvard tutor and Fellow of the House, Rev. Nicholas Sever (also Seaver) (1680 – 1764), the owner of a large body of tutorial plate. The spout cup descended through the Sever family as follows: to their son William (1729 – 1809) and his wife Sarah Warren (1730 – 1797), m. 1755; to William’s son John (1766 – 1803) and Nancy Russell (1767 – 1848), m. 1790; to their son John (1792 – 1855) and Anna Dana (1800 – 1864), m. 1825; to their daughter Ellen (1835 – 1904) and George Silsbee Hale (1825 – 1897), m. 1868; to their son Richard Walden Hale (1871 – 1943) and Mary Newbold Patterson, m. 1903; to their son Richard W. Hale Jr. (1909 – 1976), who in 1940 m. Elisabeth Fairbanks, the donor.

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. Richard W. Hale, Jr., in memory of her husband