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Heald, John S.
Place Made:
Baltimore Maryland United States of America
Date Made:
HOA: 13-1/2″; WOA: 3-7/8″ (bowl)
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Silver ladle with round bowl and late neoclassical round handle end.

INSCRIPTION: Script initials “JAM” engraved on face of handle.

MARK: Struck on reverse of handle with intaglio “J.S. HEALD” in serrated rectangle reserve between two eagle head marks. The eagle’s head mark is found on many pieces of Baltimore silver, beginning shortly after 1800 and continuing after 1814 when the city’s official Assay Office was established. It is believed that the mark was first used in the city by a group of Baltimore silversmiths to signify the quality of their silver. It was through the efforts of this group that the Baltimore Assay Office, the first of its kind in America, was established. Alternatively, eagle head marks are found on silver made in cities throughout America during the Federal period and could simply be an informal national mark, similar to the lion’s head, thistle, and harp used, respectively, by British, Scottish, and Irish guild halls. Many eagle head marks might also have been used by large manufacturers selling their wares to be retailed by other silversmiths and jewelers. See Catherine B. Hollan, “Eagle Marks on American Silver” (McLean, VA: Hollan Press, 2015), 11-12.

MAKER: Little is known of Baltimore silversmith John S. Heald. He apparently entered a brief partnership with William Ball during the year 1812. A directory lists the location of their business at 60 Baltimore Street. The firm of Ball & Heald was terminated by the year 1813, but Heald is listed by himself in the Riddle and Murray directory of 1819 as a “gold and silversmith” on the north side of Front Street next to the post office. See Jacob Hall Pleasants and Howard Sill, “Maryland Silversmiths, 1715-1830” (Baltimore, MD: Lord Baltimore Press, 1930) and Entry forJohn S. Heald in William Erik Voss, “Silversmiths & Related Craftsmen” (online: [accessed 1 June 2017]).

FORM: Large silver ladles were popular for serving punch or soup. Most had plain hemispherical bowls, others were round, and a few had scalloped or shaped bowls. Smaller ladles of silver were most often designated for serving sauces and gravy.

Credit Line:
Gift of Frank L. Horton