Lewis E. Jenks Antique Sterling Silver Hot Milk Jug, Boston, 1872-75
A rare form in silver, this sterling milk jug exhibits stunning details and design. The body, lid and pedestal base are covered with exquisite floral and foliate repoussé against a stippled background which brings out the 3-dimensional quality of the workmanship. A cartouche on the front is engraved with a lovely 'EGS' monogram. Superbly executed is the helmut-shaped top with fitted hinged cover upon which is perched a bird finial with spread wings.
The highlights of the repoussé are hand-chased for detail and the shaped handle is chased with complimentary foliate designs.
Similar bird finials appear occasionally on American silver of the 1865-75 period. It is most likely meant to represent a dove, celebrating the peace after the long and bloody civil war.
Having worked at the Boston firm of Bigelow Bros. & Kennard, Lewis Jenks went into business on his own around 1872. Since the working dates for Crosby, Morse & Foss are 1869-1875 and Jenks went into business in 1872, we can accurately date this to between 1872-1875. It is unusual to find Boston silver of this period marked by both the maker and retailer, usually only the retailer marked the silver.
Jenks was a very important designer of silver in Boston. His next firm, Kennard & Jenks, created some of the finest Japanesque silver made in Boston. After selling Kennard & Jenks to Gorham in 1880, he worked there while his son, Barton, became a principal of Goodnow & Jenks, Boston's leading silversmiths of the 1890's. They sold important colonial revival silver of very high quality to an elite clientele.
This rare antique sterling silver jug is marked by Lewis Jenks company mark, 'STERLING/BOSTON' and by both Boston retailers 'CROSBY, MORSE & FOSS' and 'BIGELOW, KENNARD & CO'. It measures 10.5 inches high, has great weight at 16.65 troy ounces and is in excellent condition.