June 3, 2005
CW acquires historically significant silver tea and coffee service
Colonial Williamsburg recently acquired and conserved this elegant circa 1800 silver Virginia tea and coffee service.
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has acquired a five-piece silver hollowware service thanks to generous funding by the Friends of Colonial Williamsburg Collections donor group. Four of the objects (teapot, sugar basin, cream jug and footed bowl) were made by Norfolk silversmith Jeremiah Andrews, circa 1800, while the fifth, an urn-shaped coffeepot, was made and marked by New York silversmith John A. Schanck but also is marked by Andrews, who retailed the piece.
“We have been most fortunate to acquire this handsome tea and coffee service with a history of ownership in eastern Virginia,” said John Davis, Colonial Williamsburg’s Samuel and Pauline Clark curator, and senior curator of metals. “The four pieces that were crafted in Norfolk are all engraved by the same hand with the ornamented cipher ‘JES’ for the original owners Captain John Stone (d. 1821) and his wife Elizabeth Keeling (1777-1843), residents of Norfolk who were married Sept. 26, 1799. Members of Virginia’s Gatewood family, descendants of the original owners who last owned this service, have been extremely helpful in establishing its history.”
The acquisition is an important one for Colonial Williamsburg because it represents a substantive expansion of the foundation’s regional silver collection. “This Norfolk silver is tremendously significant to us because of the combination of the objects’ early date and the fact that so many pieces of the service survive together,” said Ronald L. Hurst, Colonial Williamsburg’s Carlisle H. Humelsine curator, and vice president of collections and museums. “The well-documented history of ownership is an added bonus. This acquisition dramatically enhances the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s collection of Virginia silver.”
To return the Norfolk silver service to its original appearance, Colonial Williamsburg’s conservation team made modest repairs. David Blanchfield, conservator of objects and metals, repaired and rebuilt the wooden handles on the coffeepot and teapot. Master silversmith George Cloyed removed a sizable dent from the footed waste bowl. Carl West, metals technician, cleaned the silver then coated it to retard tarnishing.
Colonial Williamsburg’s Museums and Collections include two world-class museum facilities--the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum--in addition to the DeWitt Wallace Collections and Conservation Building, the largest museum collections preservation complex south of Washington, D.C. The latter houses the Foundation’s 60,000 objects and antiques, and features extensive conservation workspace for object analysis and treatment laboratories.