Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State

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Web Property of the U.S. Department of State


Object Details

ca. 1795
United States (possible)
North American (possible)
metal; silver
Overall: 8 13/16 in; x 22.38375 cm
Ex-collection Mark Bortman; to Jane Bortman Larus; to the Fine Arts Committee through purchase
In script within a shield-shaped bright-cut reserve, "FR." Apparently unmarked.
Credit Line
Funds donated by Mr. and Mrs. Thomas E. Sandefur, Jr.
The Diplomatic Reception Rooms, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C.
Accession Number

Related Objects

American Silver Indian Trade Peace Medal

American Silver Indian Trade Peace Medal

Richardson, Jr., Joseph
metal; silver

Object Essay

Silver tobacco pipes are exceedingly rare, and the few that do survive appear to have been special presentation pieces. One such silver tobacco pipe was presented by General William Henry Harrison to the Delaware Indians at the conclusion of the second Treaty of Greenville in 1814.1That pipe, unmarked but probably American-made, is also covered but more closely resembles a miniature, neoclassical sugar bowl than a clay pipe. It is now in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution; Klapthor 1965, 88. The importance of the “peace pipe” in Indian negotiations is further documented by their depiction on Indian peace medals (see Acc. No. 67.37), where pipes of either the clay “church warden” type or the traditional Indian form appear. Any original association of this pipe with Indians is not known.        

The form of this pipe is derived from the common clay pipes of the 17th and 18th centuries, the “heel” at the base of the ovoid bowl provided a rest or grip. This silver pipe is distinguished by a hinged, pierced cover and a very slender tube with a bulbous mouthpiece and a socket connection to the base of the bowl. The bowl is decorated in the neoclassical style, with bright-cut engraving and wriggle-work swags. Most silver pipes, whether found in England or the United States, are unmarked, like this one.

Jennifer F. Goldsborough

Excerpted from Clement E. Conger, et al. Treasures of State: Fine and Decorative Arts in the Diplomatic Reception Rooms of the U.S. Department of State. New York: H.N. Abrams, 1991.