Fletcher & Gardiner Antique Coin Silver Bread Basket, Philadelphia, c. 1815, Retailed by J. B. Jones in Boston
Great examples of silver from Fletcher & Gardiner are rarely seen on the market and this bread basket is a famous model by the firm. The deep rectangular bowl is raised with gracefully curved sides and flaring upper sections creating dramatic handles. Beautifully decorated dye rolled bands of roses are applied around the edge.
Decorating the four corners and midsections of the side are applied shell and leaf decoration. A bold cast and applied flower ornaments both ends of the handles. The base of the basket is supported by an applied rectangular band decorated with anthemion leaves against a horizontal line background. Dramatic ball & claw feet with talons clutching balls convey strength supporting the basket. Masters of design, Fletcher & Gardiner incorporated many classical elements popular at the time to create this stunning basket.
A nearly identical example, formerly part of the Ruth J. Nutt Collection of American Silver, was part of a service presented to Commodore William Bainbridge from the citizens of Philadelphia celebrating the capture of the British frigate Java by the U.S.F. Constitution in 1812 while under Bainbridge's command.(1)
'Fletcher & Gardiner offered several basket forms for their table services, but round volute handles soldered in place were technically challenging and atypical.'(2) They are also reminiscent of the scrolls on the capitals of classical Ionic columns.(3)
A pair of similar baskets, now in the collection of the Maryland Historical Society, were given by the citizens of Baltimore in 1817 as part of a service to Commodore John Rodgers for his role in the successful defense of Baltimore and Fort McHenry during the War of 1812.(4)
Thomas Fletcher and Sidney Gardiner ran the most important silversmithey of the young republic, receiving commissions to make the most significant presentation silver of their day, including: The DeWitt Clinton Urns (Erie Canal, now at the Met), The George Armistead Punch Service (Commander at Fort McHenry, now at the Smithsonian), The Isaac Hull Urn (Commander of the Constitution, now in the Naval Historical Foundation's collection), etc.
This stunning classical silver basket is marked underneath by the Boston retailer 'J.B. Jones Co'. There are 2 rubbed areas where it was stamped 'PHILA' and 'F&G' . It measures 16 inches long by 10 inches deep by 5 inches high, weighs 41.10 troy ounces and is in very good antique condition.
Donald L. Fennimore and Ann K. Wagner, Silversmiths to the Nation: Thomas Fletcher & Sidney Gardiner: 1808-1842, (Wilmington: The Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, Inc, 2007), p. 130.
Gregory Weidman and Jennifer Goldsborough, Classical Maryland: 1815-45, (Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1993), p. 153.