This spectacular repoussé and chased coffeepot is the work of Alexander Petrie. It shares identical or similar castings – including the bell finial, hinge, handle sockets, leaf-and-scroll spout, and foot ring – with another, plainer, coffeepot by Petrie, also in MESDA’s collection. Rococo ornamentation like that on this coffeepot is rare in American silver. It cost more to buy and required exceptional artistic skills to complete. In MESDA’s ornamented coffeepot, the chasing on the sides and cover of the pot combines ruffled scrolls, shells, and clusters of flowers.
Although this coffeepot is the only known example of this form with chasing and repoussé made in Charleston, written evidence confirms that this type of work was extremely popular in the city. Among the items listed in Petrie’s estate inventory was “1 New Chased Coffee pott” weighing thirty-two-and-a-half ounces.
Also listed on the same page of Petrie’s inventory was Abraham, an enslaved silversmith. Abraham was a rare but not unique southern artisan; a small number of other enslaved silversmiths have been documented working in Charleston, Richmond, and Annapolis during the eighteenth century.