Cream Pots

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1805 Cream Pot. Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc.Artist/Maker: Johnson and Reat (partnership c. 1805-15)[1]

Created: c. 1805 & 1810

Origin/Purchase: Richmond, Virginia

Materials: silver

Dimensions: 1805: H: 16.2 (6 3/8.); W: 14.1 (5 9/16 in.) Base: 6.4 (2 1/2 in.); Wt: 173 g. (5 oz. 11 dwt. 6 gr.); 1810: H; 15.2 (6 in.); W: 14 (5 1/2 in.) Base: 6.4 (2 1/2 in.); Wt: 172.3 g. (5 oz. 10 dwt. 19 gr.)

Location: Tea Room

Provenance: 1805: Thomas Jefferson; by descent to Benjamin Franklin Randolph; by descent to Thomas Waring and Mary Randolph Waring Beretta; by gift to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation in 1983

Accession Number: 1981-20-2

Historical Notes: On July 11, 1805, Martha Jefferson Randolph wrote to her father, "I must beg your pardon for having omitted till this moment to inform you of the dismantled state of our tea equipage... the plated ones [cream pots] being so much worn as to shew the copper."[2] The plated cream pots Martha mentions were probably the two that Jefferson had bought in Paris eighteen years earlier, and perhaps the letter prompted Jefferson to purchase a solid-silver cream pot as a replacement.[3] Although unrecorded in Jefferson's Memorandum Books, two silver cream pots made by the successful Richmond partnership of Reuben Johnson (1782-1820) and James Reat (1782-1815) descended in Jefferson's family with a history of his ownership.[4]

The first cream pot is helmet-shaped with a flared spout and strap handle resting on a round trumpet-shaped foot and square plinth. The second cream pot has an oval, boat-shaped body with concave shoulder, flared spout, reeded rim and strap handle on a rectangular footed base. The monogram "TJ" on the side is probably a later addition, as the same style monogram also appears on a single French fork that descended in the same line. The "1 cream dit.[pot]" and "1 cream ewer" mentioned in Martha Jefferson Randolph's silver inventories, c. 1823 and 1833 respectively, might refer to either of these pieces.[5] The 1826 inventory of Monticello furnishings included "2 plated cream pots" among numerous items of silverplate, most of which appear to have been sold at the 1827 Dispersal Sale.[6]

Footnotes

  1. This article is based on Stein, Worlds, 331.
  2. Martha Jefferson Randolph to Thomas Jefferson, July 11, 1805, Family Letters, 277.
  3. Jefferson, October 2, 1787, in MB, 1:682 "Pd. for plated cream urn 18f."; Summary of French purchases, 1788-1789, Thomas Jefferson Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society, "60 [livres] P[lated], 2 cream vases."
  4. Partnership in Johnson and Reat described in George Barton Cutten, The Silversmiths of Virginia (Richmond: Dietz Press, 1952), 142-145, 155.
  5. Martha Jefferson Randolph, housewife list, c. 1823, and silver inventory, c. 1833, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc.
  6. [Martha Jefferson Randolph]?, "Inventory of the furniture in the house at Monticello, 1826," Thomas Jefferson Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

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