F54

Gerardus Boyce Rare Pair of Antique American Coin Silver Ewers, New York City, c. 1842

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This rare extant pair of massive ewers features exuberant classical and rococo decoration. Boldly cast, the applied double scroll handles are embellished with lively acanthus leaf decoration. The bodies have die rolled bands of classical decoration around the foot, neck and rim. Of inverted pyriform shape, the bodies are repousséd with acanthus leaves and floral and foliate designs centering an oval cartouche on each side. Each neck is wonderfully flat chased with flowing acanthus leaves.

Both pitchers are inscribed:

Ann Louisa Cheesman
Presented by her father,
January 1st 1843.


Ann Louisa Cheesman was born on November 8, 1815, the first child of one of New York's most prominent doctors, John C. Cheesman. Noting his death in 1862, the New York Times reported that 'As a surgical operator he had no superior in this country.'(1) and that 'The history of the New York Hospital (now New York Presbyterian Hospital) for the last forty years is the history of the benevolence, the skill and the triumph of John C. Cheesman...'(2)

According to the 1839/40 directory, Cheesman lived at 473 Broadway.(3) This exclusive location was just a couple blocks from the location of Gerardus Boyce's shop on Greene St. (Further, his home was only a couple blocks from where Ball, Black & Co. was to open their legendary shop at the corner of Broadway and Prince streets in 1860.) Not only an important doctor, Cheesman was a successful real-estate investor: the 1860 census notes $50,000.00 worth of real-estate along with $10,000.00 of personal property. (Not to mention six servants, a driver and two coachmen!)

When Cheesman died in 1862, he left the rents of all his properties to Ann for her life and then, if she died without issue, to her brother T. Metlach Cheesman.(4) When she died on the 23rd of September 1883, residing at 240 Fifth Avenue (another nice address), she apparently had no children or spouse.(5)

Gerardus Boyce ran a highly successful silversmithing business from the 1820's until the late 1850's, with his shop located at 110 Greene St. after 1835. In 1846 Boyce's silver was displayed at the American Institute fair winning praise from the New York Evening Post.6 His silver can be found in the collections of many important museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

These wonderful ewers measure 16.5 inches in height and weigh a combined 81.95 troy ounces. They are marked 'G. Boyce', 'N.Y', along with two ball filled devices, one a crescent and the other a square. These two marks are most likely journeyman and/or chaser marks.

Both ewers are in excellent crisp condition with a beautiful surface. There is a little additional solder where the handle meets the body on one ewer, although there is no damage to the body.

Endnotes:

  1. 'Death of Dr. John C. Cheesman,' New York Times, 21 October 1862, p. 8.
  2. loc. cit.
  3. Hollister, Catherine, comp. Manhattan New York City Directory: 1839 [database online]. Provo, UT: Ancestry.com, 2002. Original data: Longworth's American Almanac, New-York Register and City Directory for 1839. Published by Thomas Longworth, 118 Nassau Street, New York, N.Y., 1839.
  4. Unpublished will of John C. Cheesman. Many thanks to Wayne Finegan for finding this at the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society.
  5. Unpublished Cheesman Family Bible at the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society. Once again, many thanks to Wayne Finegan.
  6. Deborah D. Waters, Elegant Plate: Three Centuries of Precious Metals in New York City, p. 285.
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