Daniel Smith & Robert Sharp George III Antique Sterling Silver Sauce Boats of American Historical Interest, London, 1763/64, owned by Founding Father George Read of Delaware
These fine sauce boats were owned by one of the Founding Fathers, Hon. George Read of Delaware. Smith and Sharp ran a very fine partnership who were large suppliers to Parker & Wakelin, the royal silversmiths. The sauce boats are wonderful examples of mid-Georgian silver with rococo shell feet and knees, a gadrooned rim and a foliate grip on scrolling handle accentuating the undecorated body.
Each sauce boat is engraved with an original 'GR' monogram inside a rococo cartouche. They have been later engraved (c. late 19th century) with the Read coat of arms the opposite side and underneath engraved in a cursive script:
This belonged to the Hon. George Read of Delaware 1733-1798, (son of Col. John Read 1688-1756) Royal Attorney General 1763-1744-Author of Addresses to the King from Del. Legislature also of first Constitution & First edition of Laws of Delaware, one of the two Statesmen and the only Southern Statesman who signed the three great State papers on which our history is founded, viz: the Original Petition to the King of the Congress of 1774, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. He was more-over President & Chief Justice of Delaware, Judge of the National Court of Appeals in Admiralty, and United States Senator twice elected. This silver was inherited by his son the Hon. John Read 1769-1854, by his grandson the Hon. John Meredith Read Chief Justice of Pennsylvania, and by his great grandson, General John Meredith Read
on the back, under the handle, they are also contemporaneously later engraved:
This gravy boat was made in 1763 by Danl. Smith and Robt. Sharp, Westmorland Buildings, London, who were makers of the pair of Tankards for Trinity College, Oxford, exhibited at South Kensington Museum, 1862
Later engraving cannot always be taken at face value, however in this case all the evidence supports this provenance. First, the original cartouche and monogram ('GR') are period. Second, 1763 is the year that Read married Gertrude Till and the year he was appointed His Majesty's Attorney General in Delaware. This is the sort of silver someone in his position would own and the time he would purchase it. Third, it is common for descendants to be proud of famous ancestors and their possessions and to document them like this. Fourth, and most importantly, a photograph from the turn of the century exists from before these sauce boats left family hands.
Above is an image of the "Silver service which belonged to George Read, 'The Signer'" from page 278 of the family history Rossiana written in 1908 by Read's great, great grandson, Harmon Pumpelly Read. This photo shows a grouping of mid-Georgian silver that the family kept together as an heirloom of their famous ancestor. These sauce boats are proudly displayed on each side (and are the most interesting pieces in the assemblage).
George Read was one of our Founding Fathers, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution and the 1774 Petition to the King. (He is one of only two triple signers and one of only six double signers.) He also served as President of Delaware, U.S. Senator and Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court. Read all about George Read on his Wikipedia page.
These exceptional sauce boats are in very good antique condition. They are marked underneath and show wear to the original marks. Measuring 8.5 inches long by 4.875 inches high, they weigh approximately 24.7 troy ounces.