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Wagster, Isaiah
Place Made:
Baltimore Maryland United States of America
Date Made:
HOA: 4-1/2″
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: One of a pair of silver canns with plain baluster shape, cast acanthus-capped double scroll handle, and round moulded bases.

INSCRIPTION: Engraved on outside of body with the intial “M” in script.

MARK: Struck four times on base with an intaglio “IW” mark in a rectangle reserve.

MAKER: Isaiah Wagster’s marriage to Mary Warrell in Baltimore, Maryland on 6 November 1776 is the earliest mention of his name found in the records. Three years later he is designated a “goldsmith and jeweller” when he took deed to a lot on the north side of Baltimore Street in April 1779. The following advertisement appeared in the Maryland Gazette and Baltimore Advertiser of 2 October 1780: “Isaiah Wagster, Goldsmith and Jeweller at the sign of the Crown and Pearl opposite Mr. Stenson’s Coffee-House, still continues the Jewellery and Goldsmith’s Business in all its Branches etc.” Wagster took several apprentices, including John Snyder (b.1764) and John Taylor (b. 1773), and owned at least one slave, a boy named George (b.c.1768). In 1784 Wagster served as a retail outlet in Baltimore for Philadelphia jeweler and silversmith Jeremiah Andrews (d.1817). Wagster appears to have tried unsuccessfully in 1785 and 1786 to settle his affairs and leave the city. He sold this Baltimore Street lot in March 1787 and may have ceased his business at that time for he does not appear in the 1790 census for Baltimore; however, there is a chalice attributed to Wagster and dated June 1793, but the inscription may have been added some years after the piece was made. See Jennifer Faulds Goldsborough, “Silver in Maryland” (Baltimore, MD: Maryland Historical Society, 1983), 199-200.

FORM: A “cann” is an eighteenth-century term for a handled drinking vessel that is larger than a cup and features a tulip-shaped body and circular foot. The form is similar in size to a mug, but mugs have straight-sided bodies rather than the tulip shape of a cann. Tankards are differentiated from canns as tankards have lids. The term “cann” lost popularity toward the end of the eighteenth century as handled drinking vessels larger than a cup became called “mugs” regardless of the shape of their bodies.

Credit Line:
MESDA Purchase Fund