K514

Samuel Kirk 11oz Silver Repoussé Chinoiserie Teapot, c. 1834-46, bearing the crest and arms of Maryland Governor Thomas Swann (1809-1883)


This striking tea pot is elaborately decorated with wonderful foliate and exotic chinoiserie repoussé. The landscape designs depict various pagoda structures and figures traveling in a boat.

The cast 'C'-shaped handle and spout are embellished with repoussé and hand chasing. The cast, square foot is chased in complimentary floral design and pierced.

On one side, the cartouche is engraved with the arms of Thomas Swann and the hinged lid is surmounted by a lovely figural swan finial.

Thomas Swann (1809-1883) was an important politician serving as Mayor of Baltimore from 1856-60, Governor of Maryland from 1866-69 and U. S. Representative from 1869-79. On May 20, 1834, he married Elizabeth Gilmor Sherlock, a member of the Gilmor family, the richest family in Baltimore in the early 19th century.

The Swann family owned a large estate, Morven, near Leesburg, VA. After the death of his father in 1840, Swann took an active role in the management of the estate and in 1858, Swann engaged English-born Baltimore architect Edmund G. Lind (who did Baltimore's Peabody Conservatory) to renovate it in the current classical (we would call it Italianate) taste. See an image of Lind's classical plan here. This tea pot certainly spent some of it's time there.

Samuel Kirk was an important Baltimore silversmith who is responsible for popularizing this style of repoussé silver in 19th century America. It became his trademark and ultimately it was known throughout the country as 'Maryland' silver. (In fact we have seen records in the Tiffany archives where, in the 1880's, they record making pieces in the 'Maryland' style.)

Kirk was also a successful businessman. In part, because he used standard sheet silver to create his pieces and thereby kept his costs low. This tea pot is one of the heaviest pieces of Kirk we've had and clearly a custom order from very rich patrons. It has descended in the family.

This wonderful tea pot is stamped underneath 'S. KIRK' in a rectangular punch with '11' in a square punch. It measures 7 inches to the top of the handle and 9.75 inches from handle to spout. It weighs a very impressive 40.75 troy ounces and is in very good antique condition with light wear to the highlights.
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