INSCRIPTION: Engraved “C P A” in cartouche on bowl for Charles Pons Aimar (1826-1905).
MARK: Struck on underside of bowl with intaglio “DAY & MAUSSENET” retailer mark and a worn rectangle-circle-diamond manufacturer mark for the New York City shop of either William Gale & Son or Theodore Evans.
MAKER: Retailed by the Macon, Georgia shop of Sidney B. Day and Edward Maussenet, watch-makers and jewelers in partnership from 1854 to 1861. Manufactured in New York City by either William Gale & Son, working 1850-1866, or Theodore Evans, working 1855-1865.
FORM: Although silver dippers were in use throughout the United States in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it is a form that appears to be “especially characteristic of the southern region where heat, porches, thirst, and wealth combined to make it commonplace.” Water pails with dippers were ubiquitous objects within a house’s main passage or on the porch. A mid nineteenth-century schoolteacher traveling through the South remarked that he often joined “a circle gathered on the porch and refreshed with cool water from the cocoanut [sic] dipper or with any other beverages in circulation” (coconuts were often used for the dipper bowl). As silver was known to have antiseptic properties, dippers with silver bowls or silver-trimmed coconut bowls were considered essential for such communal utensils. See Ashley Callahan and Dale Couch, “From Sideboard to Pulpit: Silver in Georgia,” in Decorative Arts in Georgia: Historic Sites, Historic Contexts, The Third Henry D. Green Symposium of the Decorative Arts (Athens: Georgia Museum of Art, 2008), 132-133.
According to southern silver expert Charlotte Crabtree, “marked dippers with provenance are exceeding rare” (email to Gary Albert, 8 January 2016).
Providing a glimpse of the suite of objects used with along with a dipper, the 1835 estate of Dr. John Todd of Laurens Co., SC included the sale of “1 table buckett & dipper” valued at eighty cents (“South Carolina Probate Records, Files and Loose Papers, 1732-1964,” Laurens > Probate Court, Estate papers > 1800-1931 > Box 068, Package 3 – Box 072, Package 10 > image 347 of 1181; county courthouses, South Carolina, and South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia). The low value of this lot indicates that the dipper was made of wood and not silver.
Determining why a coastal South Carolina family would come to possess a silver dipper from a Macon, Georgia shop can be explained through a connection to Charles Pons Aimar’s mother, Adele Menard Aimar (1800-1867). Adele was born in Savannah to Pons “Peter” Menard (1755-1842), a French-born merchant/baker who worked at various times in Savannah, Milledgville, and Augusta, Georgia. She was apparently the sister of Stephen Menard (1787-1873), who was identified as a watchmaker and jeweler living in Macon, Georgia in the 1850, 1860, and 1870 federal censuses. No advertisements placed by Menard were found in a search of period Macon newspapers and he does not appear in any craftsman-related databases. Thus, is seems very probable that Stephen Menard was a journeyman in the Macon watchmaking and jewelry shop of Day & Maussenet. The dipper was likely a gift of Stephan Menard to his nephew Charles Pons Aimar.