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Chocolate pot. William Lukin, London, England, 1701-1702.  Silver (Britannia) and wood. OH:  8 5/8”; OD (body): 4 ½”.

Chocolate pot. William Lukin, London, England, 1701-1702. Silver (Britannia) and wood. OH: 8 5/8”; OD (body): 4 ½”.

Gift of John A. Hyman: The John A. Hyman Collection

Metalwork

Pair of sauceboats.  Thomas Hammersley, New York, New York, ca. 1760.  Silver.  OH: 4 ½”; OW: 4 5/16”; OL: 8 ¼”.

Pair of sauceboats. Thomas Hammersley, New York, New York, ca. 1760. Silver. OH: 4 ½”; OW: 4 5/16”; OL: 8 ¼”.

Museum Purchase, funds given in memory of Edward B. Stvan

Turtle-form soup tureen.  Probably Sheffield, England, ca. 1815.  Fused silver plate (Sheffield plate).  OL: 22”.

Turtle-form soup tureen. Probably Sheffield, England, ca. 1815. Fused silver plate (Sheffield plate). OL: 22”.

Bequest of Dr. Lowry Dale Kirby

Dish.  John Townsend & Thomas Giffin, London, England, 1768-1778; engraving vicinity of Shepherdstown, Virginia (now West Virginia), 1782.  Pewter.  OH: 12".

Dish. John Townsend & Thomas Giffin, London, England, 1768-1778; engraving vicinity of Shepherdstown, Virginia (now West Virginia), 1782. Pewter. OH: 12".

Museum Purchase

Many different materials are featured in the Foundation’s collection of metalwork, including silver, fused silver plate, pewter, copper, brass, iron and polished steel. Mixed media such as enamels, jewelry, and japanned sheet metal are also well represented. Ranging from the most basic and personal to the exceptional and ostentatious, metal objects of these diverse types filled homes and public spaces on both sides of the Atlantic.

British silver is one of the greatest strengths of the collection, in large part because of its great popularity in early America, especially in the southern colonies. Pieces with American histories of ownership are especially prized as documents of early consumer choice, but exceptional examples by important London silversmiths are also numerous. These include a rare ten-branch silver chandelier made for King William III, one of the earliest known English silver chocolate pots, and a pair of elaborate silver-gilt dessert baskets by the Huguenot craftsman Paul de Lamerie. The Foundation also has a modest but growing assemblage of American-made silver, including forms for drinking, dining, and personal adornment.

The technique of fusing silver to copper was discovered by Thomas Boulsover of Sheffield, England, in 1742. Often known as Sheffield plate, this new metal rapidly attained great popularity both at home and abroad because of its success in mimicking sterling silver at a far lower cost. Thanks in large part to gifts from three donors, Colonial Williamsburg holds one of the most extensive assemblages of Sheffield plate in any American institution.

Pewter, an alloy of tin, copper, antimony, bismuth, and lead, is also very well represented, with abundant examples of objects for dining, drinking, lighting, and household use. Although pewter was most often unadorned, the collection at Colonial Williamsburg includes specimens that feature engraving, relief ornamentation, and even painted and enameled decoration.

Books about Colonial Williamsburg Metalwork

  • Davis, John D. English Silver at Williamsburg. Williamsburg, Virginia: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in association with University Press of Virginia, 1976.
  • Davis, John D. Pewter at Colonial Williamsburg. Williamsburg, Virginia: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in association with University Press of New England, 2003.
  • Hyman, John A. Silver at Williamsburg: Drinking Vessels. Williamsburg, Virginia: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1994.
  • Pewter At Colonial Williamsburg

    The latest volume in the Colonial Williamsburg Decorative Arts Series presents a vast array of forms and styles indicative of the range of goods available in early America, especially the Chesapeake region of Virginia.

    Buy now

    Learn more

    By Davis, John D.


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