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[AC] Mead Art Museum at Amherst College; [HC] Hampshire College Art Gallery;
[HD] Historic Deerfield; [MH] Mount Holyoke College Art Museum; [MH SK] The Joseph Allen Skinner Museum at Mount Holyoke College; [SC] Smith College Museum of Art; [UM] University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMASS Amherst

 


Maker(s):Russell, John
Culture:American (1767-1839)
Title:teaspoon
Date Made:ca. 1814
Type:Food Service
Materials:silver
Place Made:United States; Massachusetts; Greenfield
Measurements:overall: 5 3/4 in; 14.6 cm
Accession Number:  HD 71.136.3
Credit Line:Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Wilby

Description:
One of a set of four silver teaspoons with a pointed oval bowl, pointed shoulders, and coffin-fiddle handle, which are all unmarked but made by John Russell (1767-1839) of Greefield, and engraved with the initials "E.H" in script on the front of the handle for Elizabeth Hawks (1799-1858), the daughter of Zadock Hawks (1731-1821) of Deerfield, who became the second wife of Elihu Smead (1765-1840) of Shelburne in 1814. John Russell was born in Deerfield and served an apprenticeship with Isaac Parker (1749-1805) before Parker returned to Boston in 1788. Russell moved to Greenfield in 1792 and worked there in partnership with Daniel Ripley (1768-1836) before moving back to Northampton in 1794. By 1803 Russell was back in Greenfield when he advertised for an apprentice in the "Greenfield Gazette." Russell's accounts with William Stoddard Williams indicate the extent of his business. He charged Williams for making and repairing watches, making teaspoons, soldering a gold ring, mending spectacles, a cane, and even a syringe. Most of his production was confined to flatware. John Russell Sr. trained his son John Russell, Jr. (1797-1874) to follow him in the craft. After successfully speculating in cotton in Georgia, John, Jr. returned to Greenfield about 1832 and entered the cutlery business with his brother Francis (1806-1850), establishing the "Green River Works" along the Green River in Greenfield in March 1834, which was later renamed the John Russell Cutlery. They were joined by their brother, Nathaniel Russell (1799-1884), about 1839. The company's Green River factory operated until 1868 when it moved to an expensive new plant on the Connecticut River in the new town of Turners Falls; the Green River plant employed more than 400 employees at the time of its move. According to a handwritten list of family objects in the HD 2009.26.1-.34 data file written by Elizabeth Hawks Wells (1845-1938), the wife of George Merritt Wells (1839-1883) of Deerfield: "The four teaspoons marked E.H. for Elizabeth Hawks were made by the John Russell cutlery people who did a rather big business at Cheapside. Only one of the brick building which housed the plant is now standing. The business moved to Turners Falls many years ago. I am told that the name - business name - still persists." The Wilby family has given several pieces from the Hawks silverware set (HD 71.135-71.136.1-.4, HD 2009.6, HD 2009. 14).

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