This silver fluted sugar bowl in the shape of a funerary urn, engraved with tasseled and festooned drapery and crowned with a flame finial, came from the workshop of Paul Revere, the Revolutionary War hero and one of colonial Boston’s most gifted craftsmen. Mr. Albert L. Sylvester, Class of 1924, and his wife donated it to Amherst, as part of a group of thirty-five pieces of early American silver.
EEB, 2008: 1821 Society brochure
This delicate sugar bowl, inspired by ancient funerary urns, places Revere—the silversmith, businessman, and political activist—firmly in eighteenth-century Boston. After spending the 1760s and 1770s producing silver in the more decorative Rococo style, Revere fashioned and decorated tea wares in the newly popular Neoclassical style in the 1790s. During this period, he produced fluted sugar urns, helmet-shaped creamers, and oval teapots in some quantity, to meet a new demand for entire sets of silver tea equipage. It is very likely that this sugar urn was part of such a Neoclassical tea set, in which the body of the fluted teapot was made of rolled sheet silver—not hammered up from a silver billet—and soldered to its top and bottom, an economical process that sped up fabrication and increased profits. Revere’s innovative combination of fashion and technique helped him dominate the production of silver in post-Revolutionary Boston.
Written by Kevin Sweeney, Professor of History and American Studies, Amherst College
design; utensils; food
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