Jones, Ball & Poor Coin Silver Presentation Pitcher and Goblets, c. 1850, probably made by Woodward & Grosjean
This spectacular set includes a large, eight-panel pitcher and two goblets. The goblets are beautifully repousséd and chased with grapevines with leaves and clusters of grapes around the pedestal base and body of the cup. The blank areas on the cups are engraved 'Joseph Libby/ from his/ Pupils.'
The workmanship of the pitcher is simply magnificent. The form itself is quite an achievement having paneled sections hand-raised incorporating a bulbous shape with pristine creases. Each of these panels exhibits stunning crisscrossing grapevines creeping up the panels. On each side of the paneled spout, a grapevine veers off course moving seamlessly along the top of the spout. Bold leaf designs ornament the curved handle. Engraved on the front of the pitcher is the following presentation:
Presented to Joseph Libby late MASTER of the Portland High School for Boys as a token of respect and esteem by his former PUPILS Portland, Oct'r. 7 1850
Joseph Libbey (1793-1871), a native of Buxton and graduate of Bowdoin College, was the teacher at Portland's first high school, the Latin School, begun in 1821 at 20 Exchange Street. It was a school for boys. When the Latin School and an adjoining English School were merged in 1832, Libbey became principal and teacher. He retired from teaching in 1850. He also was a deacon of Third Parish Church, Cumberland County Treasurer, and a hay and grain dealer. (1)
It was in 1850, when the High School for Girls opened, that the English High School's name was officially changed to the Portland School for Boys. (2)
Jones, Ball & Poor was Boston's leading jeweler during this period, the partnership ultimately becoming Shreve, Crump and Low in 1869. Silver bearing the Jones, Ball and Poor mark and the actual maker's marks on items sold by the firm is very uncommon. Boston items of the early 19th century are rarely found with makers marks on them. It was traditional with both silver and furniture for only the retailer to mark the item: this is why attributions of furniture and silver from this period can be so difficult.
After the retirement of Obadiah Rich about 1848, Woodward & Grosjean became Boston's leading maker of holloware before they moved to New York in 1852. (Where they became Grosjean & Woodward - one of Tiffany & Co's leading early suppliers.)
This rare coin silver presentation service is marked underneath, JONES, BALL & POOR/ Pure Silver Coin/ Boston'. The pitcher measures 11.75 inches high to the top of the handle and the cups are 5.75 inches high. The set weighs a combined 44.45 troy ounces and is in excellent antique condition.
Philip F. Keller, "James Olcott Brown, Portland School Medal" in TAMS Journal,December 1989, p. 200.
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