Teapot (with matching sugar bowl)

about 1868
Gorham & Company (active 1852–1865), John Gorham (American, 1820–1898)

Object Place: Providence, Rhode Island, United States


24.5 x 25 x 16 cm (9 5/8 x 9 13/16 x 6 5/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Sterling silver

On View

Behind the Scenes: Classifying (Gallery and Lobby) (Gallery 225)




Silver hollowware

The raised and repousséd body has an overall chased floral and foliate decoration. Reserves framed by asymmetrical scrolls on the sides of the teapot hold a monogram and family crest. Leafy vines entwine the rusticated spout and handle. Bracket-shaped feet are composed of twigs, flowers, and leaves. A domed bezel-set lid, strewn with gadrooned leaves and repousséd and chased flowers and foliage, is surmounted by a pineapple finial secured with a nut and bolt. The teapot lid is attached with a five-part hinge. The teapot’s pineapple finial is slightly bent toward the handle.One silver pin missing at top juncture of handle.

The seamless hand-raised bodies of these objects offer a clean canvas for the lavish Rococo-revival motifs of branches, leaves, and flowers that erupt into three dimensions and ramble over the curvy forms in an informal, natural manner. Gorham adopted the English sterling standard of 92.5 percent silver alloy in 1868. These two pieces, from what was probably a larger matching service, are made of different alloys. That the teapot bears the quality mark “Sterling” and the sugar bowl “Pure Coin” suggests that the sugar bowl may have been made somewhat earlier. Quality marks such as “Coin,” “Pure Silver Coin,” or “Pure Coin” had been used on American silver since the 1830s.

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.


Boylston family arms engraved within a reserve on the proper right of the handle. Arms depict gules, six cross-crosslets fitchee argent, on a chief gold three pellets, charger, and the crest is lion pass guard holding a cross-crosslet of the field, all withing a Rococo-style cartouche. "MHB" to the left of the handle in gothic-style letters with seraphs above and below within a reserve.




This teapot may have belonged to Mary Hallowell Boylston (b. 1824), subsequently passing through the Boylston family to Ward Nicholas (d. 1924) and Alice Meehan Boylston (d. 1938); to their daughter Barbara Hallowell Boylston (1913 – 1975) and Paul Webster Bean (b. 1914), m. 1937.

Credit Line

Bequest of Barbara Boylston Bean