Eoff & Shepard Coin Silver Tankard-form Hot Beverage Jug or Pitcher bearing the Pumpelly family arms, New York City, 1852, retailed by Ball, Tompkins and Black
With a tapered cylindrical body, this jug features a bold design based on New York tankards of a century (or more) earlier. The flat, stepped lid has a shaped front above the spout. A corkscrew style thumb piece attaches to a five knuckle hinge which continues into long beaded rattail decoration along the handle. The scroll handle retains two original ebony insulators and the terminus features a wonderful applied cherub's head.
On the flat top, the coat of arms of the Pumpelly family is wonderfully engraved.
Under the spout, the name 'Pumpelly' is engraved in a cursive script.
This exceptional pitcher displays our very earliest interest in colonial and historical designs that would be popularized 24 years later at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876. Many 18th century tankards were modified with the addition of spouts, and sometimes, insulators. They were re-purposed to serve the function for which this jug was originally intended. In this case, this jug used the tankard form as the basis of its design.
The interplay of backward looking design and forward looking function is at the center of much of 19th century decorative art. As hygiene became better understood, smaller personal drinking vessels became popular and old style tankards, which were passed around, became less used. While technically a hot beverage jug with insulators, this jug could also be easily used for pouring beer in deference to the 18th century function.
The Pumpelly family traces its roots to French Huguenot immigrants.1 The most prominent New York branch of the family lived in Owego, on the Susquehanna River, where a transportation hub developed with the river and railroads. (The Albany branch of the family used a slightly different coat of arms.2) While we do not know the original owner of this pitcher, Pumpellies in Owego included wealthy farmers, bank presidents, etc. and present many possibilities. Further, it came from a collection in northeast Ohio where descendants could have moved.
This wonderful pitcher or jug is marked underneath four times with Eoff & Shepard's maker's mark and twice with Ball, Tompkins and Black's retailer's mark. Eoff & Shepherd were first working in 1852 and Ball, Tompkins and Black become Ball, Black & Co on June 1st 1852, so this pieces dates very specifically to then.3 It measures 7.75 inches high to the top of the thumb piece by 10 inches wide across the handle and spout, weighs a hefty 36.35 troy ounces and is in very good antique condition with an old surface that includes light nicks, scratches and very minor unevenness.
Louis R Sosnow, ed., Complete American Armoury and Blue Book by John Matthews combining the 1903, 1907 and 1911-23 editions, (New York: Heraldic Publishing Company, Inc., 1965), addendum p. 64.
Charles Knowles Bolton, Bolton's American Armory, (Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964), p.135.
D. Albert Soeffing, 'Ball, Black & Co.:Silverware Merchants' in Silver Magazine, Novermber/ December, 1998, pp. 44-45.