Samuel Kirk Antique Sterling Silver Coffee Service, Baltimore, MD, 1823
This spectacular Empire style service is an extraordinary example of early Kirk silver. It is executed with a stunning design and is exceptionally heavy.
The service consists of three different sized pots including a large coffee pot and two teapots presumably for serving various teas. The beauty of having this many pots gives you options for serving, including decaf!!
The figural spouts are stylized swan heads while the handles incorporate mythical animal heads. Decorating the lower, lobed areas of the bodies are high-relief repoussé acanthus leaves. Magnificent die-stamped banding of bold grapevines ornament the upper sections of the bodies. You may think it unusual to have grapevine design on a coffee pot, but it is a traditional symbol of the 'convivial' Bacchus and meant to convey hospitality and welcome. (However, when you examine the finials you see an amusing Bacchus holding his head as if he needs a good cup of coffee!) Die-rolled bands with flowers and foliage decorate the rims and are used as circular feet to the pieces.
The large sugar bowl has an additional feature of classical female masks as part of the handles. Each piece is monogrammed underneath 'S. F. W.' for Samuel and Frances Winchester.
Samuel Winchester (1779-1856) and Frances Winchester, neé Mactier (1789-1854),
Henry Hill Carroll (1830-1899) and Mary Jane Winchester (1832-1894) of Clynmalira, Monkton, Maryland,
Duncan McCulloch (1853-1932) and Mary Sterrett Carroll (1861-1961), Glencoe, Maryland,
Mary Winchester Carroll McCulloch (1889-1981), Sparks, Maryland,
This rare service is marked underneath 'S. Kirk' along with the Baltimore Assayer's marks and the date letter for 1823. The slop bowl is marked on the foot banding and also marked underneath along with the 'SK 11/12' mark. The coffee pot measures 9.5 inches high by 10.5 inches across the handle and spout. The service weighs a very impressive 141 troy ounces, which represented an enormous amount of money in 1823. The large coffee pot has wooden insulators, which are possibly original. Antique ivory insulators are replacements on the other two pots. It is in very good antique condition with a couple of very small bits of restoration.
For a similar 5-piece coffee service and nearly identical creamer and sugar, see Silver in Maryland, Catalogue and Exhibition by Jennifer Faulds Goldsborough, (Museum and Library or Maryland History/ Maryland Historical Society, 1984), pp. 135-138.