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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):Coney, John
Culture:American (1655/56-1722)
Title:candlesticks
Date Made:1716
Type:Lighting Device
Materials:silver
Place Made:United States; Massachusetts; Boston
Measurements:overall: 7 in x 4 1/16 in; 17.78 cm x 10.31875 cm
Accession Number:  HD 62.043A/B
Credit Line:Henry N. Flynt Jr., on permanent loan to Historic Deerfield, Inc.
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Description:
Pair of silver octagonal candlesticks marked "IC" in an oval on the top of the base for John Coney (1655/56-1722), and engraved "Ex dono Pupillorum 1716" in script on the rim of the base. These were presentation pieces given to Henry Flynt (1675-1760) by the Harvard class of 1716; Flynt was a popular Harvard tutor who was there from 1699 until his death in 1760. According to the 1936 catalogue of the Harvard Tercentenary exhibition, Flynt also received a Coney caudle cup, as well as a teapot in 1738 and porringer, both by silversmith Jacob Hurd (1702-1758). Flynt's 1754 inventory lists five porringers; some were presumably also the gifts of students. Flynt's brother was an ancestor of Henry Flynt, founder of HD. In 1724, Nicholas Server received a pair of John Burt candlesticks (now owned by Harvard University) from his pupils that follow the form and size of the Flynt pair very closely. John Coney was unquestionably one of the giants of early American silver; in quality, quantity, and variety, his work in silver is unsurpassed, and some consider him as the preeminent goldsmith of the colonial era. Born in Boston (his father was the blacksmith, John Coney), Coney was apprenticed at the age of fourteen to the master silversmith, Jeremiah Dummer. On his own, Coney created artistic and ambitious pieces of silver, including sugar boxes, monteiths, and inkstands. These candlesticks, which are cast in sections and assembled, have octagonal candle cups with rounded base, faceted flaring sides, narrow bands, and circular concave rims; over octagonal shafts with narrow bands at the bases flaring to larger compressed knops under the stepped neck; and faceted octagonal bases with narrow rims supporting octagonal trumpet-shaped feet with narrow collors under compressed octagonal knops with narrow mid-bands. This type of octagonal, faceted baluster-stem candlestick is typical of the period (also see taperstick, HD 64.451, made by the partnership of Robert Timbrell and Joseph Bell, London, 1715-1716). According to Janine E. Skerry, Curator of Metals, Colonial Williamsburg, it is generally assumed that American cast candlesticks were literal copies of their English cousins (i.e., an English stick would be used to make the mold for casting). English faceted-base candlesticks were made in large quantities in both silver and in brass. Colonial Williamsburg owns a similar pair of silver sticks by Edward Winslow (accession # 1962-263, 1-2), which the former Curator of Metals, John Davis, speculated might have been made from the mold used to make the Coney sticks. HD also has another similar candlestick (HD 66.494) made by Nathaniel Morse, circa 1720.

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