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Dish Cross

Wittich, Christian Charles Lewis
Place Made:
Charleston South Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
LOA: 13-1/2″
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Silver dish cross with four half-ball feet and a spirit lamp at the center.

MARK: Struck four times on bottom of one foot with an intaglio “CW” mark in an oval reserve.

MAKER: Christian Charles Lewis Wittich (working 1785-1804) was born in Germany and arrived in Charleston, South Carolina about 1785, announcing in the local paper “his respectful compliments to the Ladies and Gentlemen of the city in particular and to the public in general,” and informing them that he was a goldsmith and jeweler “in every branch of his profession, setting stones, making and mending buckles, and doing all kinds of Jewellry work for the neatest taste, on the shortest Notice and for very moderate Prices.” He advertised again in 1795 as a “Working Jeweller, Gold and Silversmith,” and mentioned a number of items that he imported. A third advertisement, in 1799, mentioned a larger variety of imports, from silver toothpicks to plated spurs. Wittich formed a partnership with his brother, Frederick, whom had just arrived from Germany, in November 1802. The mark for this partnership period was an intaglio “C.F. Wittich” in a long oval. This arrangement was apparently dissolved five years later, in 1807, when Charles advertised that he was to return to Germany. In 1811, however, Charles was still in town (or back in town), listed as a goldsmith in the letters of administration for the estate of Hannah Hamlin. It is not know what happened to him after 1811, although a Charles Wittich was listed as a bank porter in the 1813 Charleston directory. See E. Milby Burton, “South Carolina Silversmiths 1690-1860 (Charleston, SC: Charleston Museum, 1967).

FORM: Dish crosses were normally fitted with a spirit or alcohol burner to keep food warm at the table. The supports can be adjusted along the length of the arm to accommodate dishes of different sizes and the arms can be moved laterally to hold dishes of different shapes. English silver-plated examples are quite common, but American silver examples are rare. Most that survive date from the late eighteenth or early nineteenth centuries, indicating that their popularity was short lived.