This pitcher is an exquisite example of early coin silver from Boston and one of the finest we have ever seen. Paneled objects with their flat surfaces and creases are challenging to execute, and this pitcher would have required an incredible level of skill.
The octagonal shaped body has tapered panels with exceptional engraving of foliage and romantic scenes. Almost midway down the body on four panels are four oval rings hanging from foliage. Perched in these rings are birds. Underneath these are splendid engravings of a scene of a castle with a large sailboat in the background, a sailboat, a Chinoiserie scene of a house next to the water with a person in a rowboat and a house with a brick wall and a figure in the doorway overlooking water with ducks.
Engraved on one cartouche is a coat of arms above the name "John Welch."
Obadiah Rich was the most important silversmith working in Boston from 1825-50, and his work can be found in prestigious museum collections. Unfortunately, Rich marked little of his work selling most of it through important Boston retailers.
This rare piece was sold by Lows, Ball & Co., one of the predecessor firms to the venerable Boston jeweler Shreve, Crump & Low. Rich's most important commissions came from Shreve's predecessor firms.
Rich was a master of the 'Octagonal' style and created objects with very similar styled high-quality engraving and applied rims and bases. Octagonal was one of the most expensive styles of that time due to the difficulty making the forms.
Marked underneath 'LOWS, BALL & COMPANY,' this rare pitcher measures 9.5 inches across the handle and spout by 8 inches high, weighs an impressive 27.25 troy ounces and is in excellent antique condition.
Provenance: John Welch was a Boston merchant of the time, and his use of this coat of arms is well documented.(1) Interestingly, Welch is the namesake grandson of John Welch the famous carver (and patriot) of the 18th century, see here (p. 213) or here.
- Charles Alfred Welch, Welch Genealogy, (privately printed, 1902), p. 21 and Charles Knowles Bolton, Bolton's American Armory, (Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964 reprint), p.176.