Tablespoon (one of a pair)
John Burt Lyng (American, died in 1785)
Object Place: New York, New York
Overall: 21.8 x 4.6 cm (8 9/16 x 1 13/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Not On View
This tablespoons, with an elongated oval bowl, has a long, rounded, upturned drop. The downturned handle tip has a short midrib on back.
Nothing is known of either John Burt Lyng’s origins or his master, but several records identify his activities in New York City by the mid-eighteenth century. He married Magdalane Jandine on September 11, 1759, and was identified as a silversmith on March 3, 1761, when he was made a freeman in New York. In addition to his work as a silversmith, Lyng apparently engaged in real estate speculation, for he owned several houses and undeveloped lots. One house lot that he sold in 1773 was adjacent to that of Myer Myers.
Silver by John Burt Lyng is uncommon. In addition to a range of such flatware as a marrow spoon, soup spoon, tablespoons, and ladles, existing hollowware includes a cann probably crafted shortly after he was made a freeman; a coffeepot and sugar bowl in the Rococo style; a tankard or ewer; and a small jug.
The flatware in the Museum’s collection offers a view to Lyng’s clientele, some of whom required basic well-made utensils, as indicated by the undecorated tablespoons (cat. no. 92), with their somewhat old-fashioned roman lettering and plain, rounded handle tips. By comparison, his elegantly wrought ladles — with their delicately chased bowls, slender arching handles, and finely cast scrolled tips — are in the best Rococo style and would have appealed to moneyed families interested in fashionable tableware. The quality of their execution suggests that Lyng apprenticed with a skilled master, perhaps in England, or with a stylish New York workshop such as that of Swiss-trained Daniel Christian Fueter (w. 1720 – 1785), who arrived in New York in 1745.
An English origin for Lyng may be inferred from an advertisement he placed in 1781, in which he indicated that he was leaving New York for England. He offered land and his silversmithing tools for sale. It appears that he did not carry out his plans, however, but instead remained in New York, where he died in 1785.
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.
"C * R" in shaded roman letters engraved on front of handle tip.
Stamped on back of handle "LYNG" within a serrated rectanagle and "N-YORK" within a rectangle.
Purchased by Mark Bortman (1896 – 1967); by descent to his family, who made them a gift.
Gift of James R. Larus, Diana L. Stone, and John M. Larus in honor of Mrs. Llora Bortman