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John Jones Coin Silver Presentation Coffee Pot, Boston, 1821

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This is a wonderful, early nineteenth century coffee pot. The plain, bulbous body is ornamented around the top edge with foliate banding which is also present on the applied finial. The flat surface S-scroll handle is decorated with a wonderful applied foliate thumb-piece and a small rosette is applied at the tip of the spout. The pedestal base has a wavy skirt and four cast and applied classical paw feet.

This wonderful pot is inscribed:

Reward of Merit
Presented to Capt. Henry Bancroft
by the Owners and Assurers of the
Ship Sachem & Cargo – Boston
Nov. 1821

Captain Henry Bancroft (1786-1872) was the second son of James Bancroft who served in the Revolutionary war and fought at the battle of Bunker Hill. Henry went to sea at 14 and commanded a brig by the age of 19. He commanded many vessels during the next 50 years, many owned by Bryant & Sturgis involved in the China Trade. In fact, he lived in China for 7 years from 1849-56 before returning to his Lynnfield home. His daughter, Eliza, married the successful businessman Cyrus M. Wakefield for whom the north shore town of Wakefield, Massachusetts is named.(1)

From an 1872 obituary we learn the story of the Sachem:

An incident occurred during one of his return voyages from China which exhibited the abilities of the man as a commander. His noble ship, laden with a full cargo of rich silks and teas was, when off St. Helena, overtaken by a severe hurricane, by which the ship lost her rudder. All on board expected a watery grave except Captain Bancroft, who ordered the main yard lowered, which, under great disadvantages, was rigged into a temporary rudder, and he brought the cargo, valued at half a million dollars, into Boston, in due time and without any loss. For this noble effort he was rewarded by the presentation to him of a silver service valued at about $2000, ...(2)

This coffee pot is from that service.

John Jones was an important Boston silversmith working 1809-21. His business, through other partnerships, evolved to form the venerable Boston jewelers, Shreve, Crump & Low. Jones purchased the business of John McFarlane, the silversmith Shreve, Crump and Low recognizes as their founder.

This early example of Boston coin silver is marked underneath 'J. Jones/ 37 Market S.'. It measures 10.75 inches high by 11 inches across the handle and spout. It weighs 34.10 troy ounces and is in very good/excellent antique condition.

Provenance: by descent in the family until 2004.


  1. George Abbott-Smith, Charles Bancroft of Montreal, his ancestors Thomas Bancroft…and his descendants, 1640-1942, (1943; Knowlton, Quebec; privately printed), pp. 25-29.
  2. Ibid, p. 28.