This teapot and stand set is one of approximately fourteen sets to survive from Paul Revere’s shop.1Kane 1998, 837–40 (Deborah A. Federhen entry on Paul Revere, Jr.). In a letter to his agent in England, Frederick William Geyer, Revere mentions that: “They enclosed me in the case of plated ware a book with drawings which is a very good direction for one to write by.”2Revere to Geyer, January 19, 1784, in Deborah A. Federhen, “From Artisan to Entrepreneur: Paul Revere’s Silver Shop Operation,” in Paul Revere—Artisan, 85. Kathryn C. Buhler lists four teapots with shaped panels bordered by fluted sections made by Revere between 1786 and 1789 that closely resemble a teapot illustrated in the trade catalogue from about 1785 of Love, Silverside, Darby & Co., of Sheffield, England.3Buhler 1970, 430–31; Federhen, “From Artisan to Entrepreneur,” 86; see also Paul Revere—Artisan, 156–57. Although the fluted form of this pot is a design attributed to Revere, it was also produced by other Boston silversmiths such as Benjamin Burt, and undoubtedly was inspired by imported Sheffield-plate wares and pattern book illustrations.
Revere’s daybooks reveal that the silversmith made only nine teapots before the Revolution, and more than fifty teapots during the last two decades of the eighteenth century. As Deborah A. Federhen has observed, this increase in production, while attributable to a renewed affluence among his patrons, also suggests that the flatting mill that Revere acquired in 1785 enabled him to engage in more efficient production practices. Unlike his earlier pear-shaped teapots that were raised from flat ingots, teapots of this fluted design were made from sheet silver formed around wood patterns and then seamed.4Federhen, “From Artisan to Entrepreneur,” 75–82.
The initials “JH” within the cartouche on both the teapot and the stand are for Judith, the eldest daughter of Moses Michael Hays and his wife, Rachel Myers Hays. Judith married Samuel Myers, her first cousin and son of the New York silversmith Myer Myers, in 1796. Judith and Samuel Myers settled in Richmond, Virginia, where Samuel Myers established a successful mercantile firm in partnership with his half-brothers Moses Mears Myers and Samson Mears Myers.5Barquist 2001, 23839.The couple also inherited family silver that included Torah finials made by Myer Myers and l–ater inscribed “Hays & Myers,” perhaps for Samuel and Judith. Their granddaughter, Caroline Hays Cohen, donated the finials to the Touro Synagogue in 1892 (Barquist 2001, 198200). The teapot and stand descended in the family until acquired by the Collection.6The objects were –acquired through a partial purchase from direct descendants and through the gift of a one-third interest in them from the Talley family.
Barbara McLean Ward
Excerpted from Jonathan L. Fairbanks. Becoming a Nation: Americana from the Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State. New York: Rizzoli, 2003.