Collections › MESDA Collection › Beaker

Beaker

Artist/Maker:
Heald, John S.
Place Made:
Baltimore Maryland United States of America
Date Made:
1800-1820
Medium:
silver
Dimensions:
HOA: 3-1/4″; DIA: 2-5/8″
Accession Number:
2024.160
Description:
DESCRIPTION: Three silver barrel-shaped beakers with molded upper rim and leaf-decorated lower rim.

INSCRIPTION: Engraved on sides of bodies with a script “C”.

MARK: Struck on bases with an intaglio “J.S. HEALD” in a scalloped rectangle with an eagle’s head above. This particular mark, an intaglio “J.S. HEALD” within a scalloped border, is not recorded elsewhere. The eagle’s head mark is found on many pieces of Baltimore silver, beginning shortly after 1800 and continuing after 1814 when the city’s official Assay Office was established. It is believed that the mark was first used in the city by a group of Baltimore silversmiths to signify the quality of their silver. It was through the efforts of this group that the Baltimore Assay Office, the first of its kind in America, was established. Alternatively, eagle head marks are found on silver made in cities throughout America during the Federal period and could simply be an informal national mark, similar to the lion’s head, thistle, and harp used, respectively, by British, Scottish, and Irish guild halls. Many eagle head marks might also have been used by large manufacturers selling their wares to be retailed by other silversmiths and jewelers. See Catherine B. Hollan, “Eagle Marks on American Silver” (McLean, VA: Hollan Press, 2015), 11-12.

MAKER:Little is known of Baltimore silversmith John S. Heald. He apparently entered a brief partnership with William Ball during the year 1812. A directory lists the location of their business at 60 Baltimore Street. The firm of Ball & Heald was terminated by the year 1813, but Heald is listed by himself in the Riddle and Murray directory of 1819 as a “gold and silversmith” on the north side of Front Street next to the post office. See Jacob Hall Pleasants and Howard Sill, “Maryland Silversmiths, 1715-1830” (Baltimore, MD: Lord Baltimore Press, 1930) and Entry forJohn S. Heald in William Erik Voss, “Silversmiths & Related Craftsmen” (online: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~silversmiths/makers/silversmiths/273592.htm [accessed 1 June 2017]).

FORM: These beakers are gracefully shaped, making them much more difficult to manufacture and less common than straight-sided beakers. Like most such objects created a the time, the beakers were made from a rolled sheet of silver and seamed vertically up the side, in contrast to earlier examples that were raised (hammered up) from a disk. Small drinking cups were popular throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Earlier examples usually have handles while nineteenth-century examples often did not.

Credit Line:
Gift of Frank L. Horton