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Cream Pitcher

Dumoutet, John Baptiste
Place Made:
Pennsylvania Philadelphia or
Date Made:
HOA: 6-15/16″; DIA: 6″
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Silver cream pitcher in the early Empire style with an urn-shaped body having prominent applied floral banding at the top, a strap handle, rim and spout with a swag-design border, and attached round pedestal with a square base featuring leaf banding. The pitcher was raised, not rolled and seamed, with the lipped upper portion (joint hidden under applied floral banding), handle, and pedestal/base soldered to the body.

MARK: Struck on bottom of base with an intaglio “DUMOUTET” mark in a conforming banner-shaped reserve.

MAKER: A native of Cher, France, John Baptiste Dumoutet was almost certainly trained as a silversmith before moving to America, arriving in Philadelphia sometime around 1793 when he was about 32 years old. Dumoutet maintained ties to the French-speaking community of his adopted city but at the same time assimilated to his new country quickly, adopting the Anglicized form of his name. In the summer of 1797 he adverstised in Trenton, New Jersey, as a “Goldsmith, Jeweller, & Hair Worker” who had temporarily rented space in “Mr. Morris’ House” to avoid the yellow fever epidemic then sweeping through Philadelphia. He seemed to find suitable patronage in the Garden State because New Jersey’s tax lists from 1797 until 1799 record him in Trenton as well as owning a house in the nearby town of Burlington. Significantly, during this same period Dumoutet continued to operate his Philadelphia shop, advertising to prospective customers that they could apply to him on the corner of Chestnut and Second streets. He also kept a residence just northeast of the city. Thus began a pattern that Dumoutet would follow for the next half-dozen years: he would travel to cities in American South to expand business, sometimes temporarily relocating, all while maintaining his Philadelphia shop and residence. Throughout 1801 his southern tour took him to Georgetown, District of Columbia; Fredericksburg, Virginia; and Charleston, South Carolina. After returning home to Philadelphia, Dumoutet apparently decided that the South Carolina market held the most promise and in January 1802 he opened a satellite store in Charleston. This shop was almost certainly maintained by an assistant, possibly his son John Baptiste Dumoutet, Jr. (b.c.1780). The elder Dumoutet continued exploring new markets over the next four years–all the while running his Philadelphia shop–traveling and advertising again in both Georgetown and Fredericksburg in 1803; Baltimore, Maryland in 1804; Raleigh, North Carolina in 1805, 1805, and 1806; and Savannah, Georgia in 1806. After 1806 it seems he ceased his southern tours and foused on business in Philadelphia and Charleston. He was 52 years old when he died in Philadelphia in 1813. His widow, Elizabeth Kendall Dumoutet (d.1834), continued the business in both Philadelphia and Charleston, first advertising under her husband’s name but by 1816 under her own. It is unlikely that she produced any silver wares during her tenure and no silver with her mark is known to exist. Elizabeth Dumoutet closed her stores in both locations in 1823.

FORM: For most of the eighteenth century the accouterments for tea and coffee were acquired separately and did not necessarily match in style and shape. By the 1790s, all elements of a tea service (coffeepot, teapot, sugar bowl, waste bowl, and cream pitcher) were made somewhat uniformly in style, with the smaller pieces following the form of the coffee and teapots.

Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frank R. Liggett III