William Forbes for Ball, Tompkins and Black - The William C. Rhinelander American Antique Coin Silver Covered Pitcher , New York City, 1844
This exquisite example of early American silver is one of the nicest we have ever seen in this form. The standard shape of slender neck and bulbous body have been greatly enhanced with stunning repoussé designs of fluid panels with foliate and floral reliefs. The shaped top edge is reinforced with a band of decorative wire molding. The hinged cover with domed spout and center surmounted with a twisted flame finial fits perfectly. Cast and applied is a wonderful leaf-decorated handle which terminates on the body with a bold bird's claw. Hand-chasing enhance the workmanship with splendid details.
One of the panels is repousséd with a floral wreath bearing the initial 'R'. An engraved inscription underneath reads:
Wm C. Rhinelander New York 1844
William C. Rhinelander(1791-1878) was one of the richest men in New York City. From a Knickerbocker family, Rhinelander's father (also William) owned a sugar refinery in lower Manhattan during the late 18th century. The profits of this operation were invested in Manhattan real estate which was, at the time, largely farm land.
Through his marriage to Mary Rogers, Rhinelander inherited large tracts of farm land from her family. He owned land, some improved, from lower Manhattan to mid-town and a large farm on the present day upper east side. (Rhinelander's farm was just just north of the Gracie Farm - where Gracie Mansion is today - and extended for several blocks from the East River to 3rd Ave.)
Rhinelander built himself a mansion at 14 Washington Square North, at the corner of Fifth Avenue, in the late 1830's. At the time, this was the best residential location in New York City and this may have been the single best address on the square. In spite of the best efforts of preservationists, the mansion was razed in the late 1960's to become the location for an apartment building. However, an image of the mansion where this ewer lived has been saved and it can be seen in this Life Magazine article from 1950.
A member of the socially connected 7th Regiment of the National Guard, Rhinelander gave significant funds to help build The Park Avenue Armory, at Park Avenue and 67th Street, an important building that contains spectacular interiors designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, Stanford White and others.
This building is famous for the important art exhibitions that have been held there over the years and is now used as a venue for the arts, including important antiques shows. We have exhibited there and will again next spring at the Art & Antique Dealers League of America's Spring Show. Thank you, Mr. Rhinelander!
This exceptional antique silver pitcher is marked underneath with the 'WF' initials used by William Forbes along with 'BALL, TOMPKINS & BLACK/ SUCCESSORS TO/ MARQUAND & CO/ NEW YORK. William Forbes was an important New York City maker and Ball, Tompkins and Black (later Ball, Black & Co, then Black, Starr & Frost) was a very important jeweler. It measures 11.25 inches high, weighs 35.30 troy ounces and is in excellent antique condition.