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Ewan, John
Place Made:
Charleston South Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
HOA: 4″
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Silver mug with scrolled handle, footed, with band of impressed arches at top and bottom edges

MARK: Struck twice on the base with the intaglio mark “J.EWAN” within a scalloped border.

MAKER: From the amount of his silver still in existence, John Ewan must have been one of the most prolific silversmiths of Charleston, South Carolina. Although born in New York City (about 1786), there is a possibility that he arrived in Charleston by way of the West Indies. This latter supposition is based on the fact that some silver with his mark has been found in Jamaica. The first knowledge that we have of Ewan being in Charleston comes from an advertisement that appeared in 1823 stating the Ewan and Peter Mood Jr. (1796-1879) were in business together under the firm name of P. Mood & Co. Doubtlessly Ewan was associated with Mood before they formed this company. The partnership did not long survive, for only two years later Ewan was advertising under his own name at 203 King Street as a gold and silversmith, adding that he had jewelry for “Freemason’s Lodges and Knights Templars.” In addition to advertising “Gold and Silver Articles of his own make,” Ewan seems to have operated a rather extensive jewelry business, for he frequently stated in advertisments that he had just received a fine shipment of jewelry, spectacles, tortoise shell, ladies work boxes, portable desks, dressing cases for gentlemen, pier glasses, and brackets. His shop was destroyed in the 1838 fire, but he seems to have saved much of his stock for he reopened at 38 Queen Street. Ewan’s shop continued operation through to his death in 1852. William H. Ewan, a silversmith working in Charleston from 1849 to 1859, seems to have been John Ewan’s son. From E. Milby Burton, “South Carolina Silversmiths 1690-1860” (Charleston, SC: Charleston Museum, 1967), 34-35.

FORM: While the form is reminiscent of an eighteenth-century cann, the applied decorative band of leaf ornament on the rim and foot along with the working dates of John Ewan, date this mug between 1825 and 1835. The term “cann”–popular for most of the eighteenth-century to describe a handled drinking vessel that is larger than a cup and features a tulip-shaped body and circular foot–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:
Gift of Frank L. Horton