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Vincent Laforme Antique Coin Silver Lyman/ Paine Family Tea Caddy, Boston, MA, 1847-58

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This large tea caddy is a stunning example of Boston coin silver. The shaped neo-classical body is decorated with rococo revival repoussé work, enhanced with fine engraving. The end panels have hanging garlands, and the front and back panels incorporate floral garlands to form wreaths. The front is engraved with a beautiful ‘LWL’ monogram. The flat, hinged lid with an oval dome in the center is adorned with a lovely cast flower finial and is engraved around the edge.

This tea caddy belonged to Lydia Williams Lyman, who married Robert Treat Paine in 1862. Robert Paine, a Boston lawyer, served on the fund-raising committee for building Trinity Church in Boston and was a great-grandson of one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. (See here) The Paines lived in Boston at 6 Joy St. on Beacon Hill, still one of the finest mansions in Boston.

Their country home in Waltham, Stonehurst, was renovated by Trinity Church architect H. H. Richardson in 1882. It is now a museum (see here). The Robert Treat Paine Historical Trust at Stonehurst purchased a circa 1860 five-piece coffee service by another Boston firm of Bigelow, Bros. & Kennard, also engraved with the initial LWL. They believe it may have been part of Lydia Lyman’s ‘extensive’ dowry. It would not be surprising if the service and this tea caddy were purchased contemporaneously.

Vincent Laforme, son of a German immigrant silversmith, ran a small shop in Boston during the mid-19th century using only hand-powered tools. He did not achieve the critical mass to compete against the larger factories, such as Gorham, that were turning to power machinery and work with his mark is rarely seen today.

This rare coin silver tea caddy is marked underneath by the Boston retailer ‘LINCOLN & FOSS/ PURE COIN/ Boston,’ and with Laforme’s gothic ‘L’ and spread eagle marks. This piece measures 5.25 inches high by 5 inches wide by 4 inches deep, weighs 14.15 troy ounces, and is in excellent condition.