H84

Obadiah Rich & Benjamin Franklin Willard Rare Antique Sterling Silver Coffee Pot, 1846-47


This wonderful coffee pot bears the rare mark of the short lived Rich & Willard partnership. It exhibits great weight and design. A high level of skill was needed to produce the paneled bulbous body and flaring top. Each section of this pot is paneled including the spout, handle, handle joins, cover and finial. On one side is engraved with a classic New England church within a foliate cartouche.

Dating to the 1840's, this rare and elegant form is one of our favorite styles of the 19th century. Referred to as the 'octagonal' style when made, it was the most expensive style available at the time due to the difficult nature of crafting the shaped body and parts.

Obadiah Rich was the most important silversmith working in Boston from 1830-50 and his work can be found in many important museum collections. This rare piece is stamped 'Rich & Willard' which was a very brief partnership.

Benjamin Franklin Willard (1803-1847), youngest son of famous clock-maker Simon Willard, apprenticed to his father and became a talented clock-maker, mechanic, inventor. In 1846 he went into a jewelry and silver partnership with Obadiah Rich. He died only months later in March of 1847. His most famous clock, an astronomical regulator, is now in the collection of Harvard University (see here). His clock earned him a gold metal from the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics Association.

The only known clock with the mark of the Rich and Willard partnership is at Old Sturbridge Village (see here). This partnership has not been documented in the silver literature and this is the first example of silver bearing the mark of this partnership that we have seen.

This coffee pot is marked underneath 'Rich & Willard/ fine/ BOSTON'. It measures 9.5 inches high, weighs a hefty 35.05 troy ounces and is in excellent antique condition, even retaining the original wood insulators on the handle.

Bibliography:

Paul J. Foley, Willard's Patent Time Pieces: A History of the Weight-Driven Banjo Clock, 1800-1900, (Plymouth: Roxbury Village Publishing, 2002).

John Ware Willard, A History of Simon Willard Inventor and Clockmaker: together with an account of his sons - his apprentices - and the workmen associated with him, with brief notices of other clockmakers of the family name, (Boston: E. O. Cockayne, 1911).
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