An American Colonial silver inverted pear-form covered sugar bowl and matching waste bowlby Joseph Richardson, Sr., Philadelphia, PA, circa 1770
Lot 1050
An American Colonial silver inverted pear-form covered sugar bowl and matching waste bowl
by Joseph Richardson, Sr., Philadelphia, PA, circa 1770
Sold for US$ 7,500 inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
An American colonial silver inverted pear-form covered sugar bowl and matching waste bowl
by Joseph Richardson, Sr., Philadelphia, PA, circa 1770
Each with banded rims, the central body each engraved with contemporary script monogram "EH," on a stepped circular foot, total weight approximately 19oz troy
covered sugar bowl height 5 3/4in; greatest diameter 5in (12.7cm); waste bowl height 3 1/8in (7.9cm); greatest diameter 6 1/4in (15.8cm)
.

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    By descent through the family to the present owner.

    For similar bowl, please see: Early American Silver in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2013, p 285. A 2003 gift of Jane Wyeth, In memory of her mother Gertrude Ketover Gleklen and her father Leo Gleklen, height 3 3/8in. This example has a flat-chased rocaille border.

    A similar covered sugar bowl belonging to the maker's family and part of the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords, sold at Sotheby's, New York, 28 October 2004, lot 639

    For similar example of Joseph Richardson's engraving, please see: American Silver 1655-1825 in the Museum of Fine Art Boston, Vol. II, by Kathryn C. Buhler, New York Graphic Society, Greenwich, CT, 1972, p 616

    For a description of practices of American colonial silversmiths please see: Treasures of State Fine and Decorative Arts in the Diplomatic Reception Rooms, by Clement E. Conger, 1991, p 304

    Metal purification was also an imperfect science in the Colonial America. Testing was accomplished by matching color of scratched surfaces and by displacement, meaning that unfamiliar coins from European sources had to be carefully evaluated and then valued. While the silversmith saved himself a great deal of work when he used the purest silver coins to make bowls and teapots, he contributed to scarcity. Silversmiths' accounts like Joseph Richardson's, record receiving coinage as well as old silver to be reworked. Only weights and corresponding values were credited; there was no value given to form. If needed, the patron was charged for ounces of silver added and, finally, a fee for the silversmith's fashioning. It was not until 1840 when coinage was plentiful and refined silver readily available that bills and receipts identify form and style and often charge as much for the item as for the weight of silver.

    Unlike Britian, America had no official registry of silversmiths to assay purity and weight before sale. American silversmiths simply stamped their objects with their own mark, usually initials enclosed in a geometric or conforming shape. Most American silver is thus marked, suggesting that those who plied this trade were as proud of their technology as of their artistry.
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