Collections › MESDA Collection › Pitcher

Pitcher

Artist/Maker:
Branda, Charles
Place Made:
Norfolk Virginia United States of America
Date Made:
1810-1815
Medium:
silver
Dimensions:
HOA: 11″; WOA: 9-1/2″; DOA: 6-1/2″
Accession Number:
3299
Description:
DESCRIPTION: Silver pitcher in the early Empire fashion with swelled body narrowing toward base. Upper section with leaf banding around lip and a large spout opposite the scrolled silver handle that terminates in grotesque dragon’s head (an element introduced to American silver from France during the first quarter of the nineteenth century). Floral banding at top of the body hides the joint between the body and upper sections. The round base has a flared top where it meets the body and features leaf banding on the flared top and above the molded foot ring.

INSCRIPTION: Engraved on side of the body with the Newton family armorial in a shield and motto “HUIC HABEO NON TIBI”, most likely made for Thomas Newton (1768-1847) of Norfolk, Virginia.

MARK: Struck on bottom of base with an intaglio “C.BRANDA” mark in a serrated rectangle reserve and an intaglio banner-shaped “NORFOLK” mark in a serrated conforming reserve.

MAKER: Charles Branda (d.c.1840) was born in France and emigrated to Norfolk, Virginia by 1811. His advertisements from that year reveal that he had already been in the city for some time. His shop at 98 Main Street provided the services of an engraver, copperplate printer and merchant of jewelry. In August 1814 he sold his copperplate press an moved to Philadelphia. Branda worked in Philadelphia until 1818 when he returned to Norfolk, a relocation that brought about a flurry of long advertisements in Norfolk listing the wares his shop offered and the continuation of his copperplate printing business. The extent of which Branda sold imported silver ware versus that from his own bench is unknown, but he consistently advertised for old gold and silver. He advertised as a jeweler and engraver in Norfolk through the 1820s. The last instance of Branda in the historical record is the 1830 Federal Census when he is recorded on Bermuda Street in Norfolk with his wife Mary, their children, and two enslaved females age twenty-four to thirty-five. His death date is unknown, but Branda probably died between 1830 and 1850 because Mary Branda is recorded in the federal census of that year as living alone with their son Adolphus, a clerk aged twenty-five. See Catherine B. Hollan, “Virginia Silversmiths, Jewelers, Watch- and Clockmakers, 1607-1860: Their Lives and Marks” (McLean, VA: Hollan Press, 2010).

FORM: Silver pitchers in Colonial America were most often small cream pitchers in the rococo fashion that were used as part of the tea ceremony to serve milk. Large wide-mouthed pitchers in the neoclassical and empire styles became popular after the American Revolution. Such pitchers were used to serve water or wine and provided silversmiths with abundant flat surface area for engraving everything from simple monograms to armorials to lengthy presentations. The term “pitcher” is most commonly used in the United States and can be applied to any container with a spout for pouring liquids. In other English-speaking countries, the term “jug” is use more prevalently. A “ewer” is a vase-shaped, handled pitcher, often decorated, with a base and flaring spout.

History:
The engraved armorial above the motto “HUIC HABEO NON TIBI” represents the Newton family of Norfolk, Virginia. Branda’s productive years in Norfolk (1810-1830) and the pitcher’s early Empire design (1810-1815) suggest Thomas Newton III (1768-1847) as its likely first owner. Born in Norfolk to Thomas Newton Jr. (1742-1807) and Martha Tucker (b.1742), Thomas Newton III was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates from 1796 to 1799 and served as a United States Congressman from 1801 until 1833. He married Margaret Jordan (1783-1861) in 1805 and between 1806 and 1823 the couple had at least six children, all sons. See www.findagrave.com entry for Thomas Newton, online: https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=7024471&ref=acom (accessed 12 June 2017) and “Biographical Directory of the United States Congress” entry for Thomas Newton (1768-1847), online: http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=N000078 (accessed 12 June 2017).
Credit Line:
MESDA Purchase Fund