Spout cup (missing lid)

about 1720
John Edwards (American, about 1671–1746)

Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Overall: 8.2 x 9 cm, 0.14 kg (3 1/4 x 3 9/16 in., 0.31 lb.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View




Silver hollowware

The pear-shaped raised vessel has a drawn, splayed, and molded foot with an applied foot ring. Its seamed spout has a slender teardrop shape that begins above the foot and snakes upward, beyond the lip. A small heart-shaped opening leads from the vessel wall to the spout. The cast handle is scrolled, with sprigs, bud terminals, and beaded rattail decoration on its exterior. The tip of the spout is worn and slightly torn from use. A lid, now lost, once completed this vessel.

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. 48) 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. 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.


On body, opposite handle, engraved "R / I x M" in shaded roman letters. The letter "I" is engraved in a similar hand on the base, to left of mark.


Twice marked "IE" within a shaped cartouche, having a crown above and a fleur-de-lis below. The first mark is to left of handle; the second is on the base, over center point.
Ada Mark * F4773


Josiah Richmond (b. 1697), a blacksmith of Middleboro, Massachusetts and his first wife, Mehitable Deane (b. 1697), by descent through either the Richmond or Deane families, which intermarried about one hundred years after the fabrication of the vessel. Subsequent history uncertain until the late nineteenth century, when the vessel was inherited by Dorothy Allen (1880-1956), the only child of Francis Richmond Allen (1843-1931) and Elizabeth Bradlee Wood (b. 1848), m. 1875. Dorothy Allen married Chandler Hovey (1880-1971/2) in 1906. By descent to their son, Charles F. Hovey (1909-1992), and subsequently to his wife, Anita C. (Hinckley) Hovey, the donor.
William R. Deane, "Brief Memoirs of John & Walter Deane of Taunton, Massachsuetts," Chicago: Dean Brothers Blank Book and Printing Co., 1893, pp. 13-14; 18-19; n.a. "The Deane Family," NEHGR 3 (October 1849), p. 384-85; NEHGR 10 (1856):225; n.a. " A Branch of the Allen Family in New England," NEHGR 10 (1856):225; 49 (1895):225; 86 (1932):225; Joshua Bailey Richmond, comp., The Richmond Family 1594-1896 and pre-American Ancestors 1040-1594 (Boston: Published by the compiler, 1897), p. 16, 26, 35, 79, 180-81; 356-58; Edward Franklin Everett, Decendants of Richard Everett of Dedham (Boston: Privately printed, 1902), p. 40; n.a., The Hovey Book describing the English Ancestry & American Descendants of Daniel Hovey of Ipswich, Massachusetts (Haverhill, Ma., Press of Lewis R. Hovey, 1913), p. 266, 342; Mansfield Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850, (Salem, Ma.: Essex Institute, 1933), p. 10, 24-5, 176; Genealogical Committee of the Harlow Family Association, Alicia Crane Williams, comp., The Harlow Family, Descendants of Sgt. William Harlow (1624/5-1691.) of Plymouth, Massachusetts (Baltimore, Md.: Gateway Press, 1997), pp. 14-15; 40; 48-50; 58-475-76; 179-180.

Credit Line

Gift of Mrs. Charles F. Hovey in memory of Mrs. Chandler Hovey