INSCRIPTION: Engraved with a script initial “M” on side of body.
MARK: Struck on the underside of the bottom with an intaglio “A.BLANCHARD” mark in a rectangular reserve.
MAKER: Asa Blanchard is early Kentucky’s most prolific and successful silversmith. His shop and product are significant to the state’s material culture during its formative period and reflect the east-to-west migration of craftsmen in the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. Asa Blansett (Blanchard) was born circa 1770, probably in Dumfries, Virginia. His surname was variously spelled “Blanset(t),” “Blancet(t),” “Blanchet,” “Blanchit,” or “Blanchard,” often multiple ways within a single document. It is not known under whom he received his training as a silversmith, but he could have trained locally in Dumfries or in nearby Alexandria or Fredericksburg, Virginia. He worked in Dumfries from about 1789 until 1806, using touchmarks of “A•B,” “AB,” and “A•BLANSETT.” At some time before moving West to Kentucky he may have worked in New York and Philadelphia, a claim he made in his first advertisement in Lexington (28 December 1807, “Kentucky Gazette and General Advertiser). No documentation has been found to support Blanchard’s claim of working or even living in either of those cities. Upon his move to Lexington, Kentucky, in 1806, he began using marks with variations of “BLANCHARD” and “A•BLANCHARD.” Over the next thirty-two years, Asa Blanchard worked in Lexington. When he died in 1838, his estate was valued at $40,000. Dozens of pieces of silver hollowware and scores of spoons and ladles survive with Asa Blanchard’s mark, most from his career in Kentucky. See Catherine B. Hollan, “Virginia Silversmiths, Jewelers, Watch- and Clockmakers, 1607-1860: Their Lives and Marks” (McLean, VA: Hollan Press, 2010) and Gary Albert, “Pioneer Refinement: Kentucky’s Mitchum Family Silver Purchased from Asa Blanchard,” MESDA Journal, Vol. 35 (2014); online: http://www.mesdajournal.org/2014/pioneering-refinement-kentuckys-mitchum-family-silver-purchased-asa-blanchard/ (accessed 28 May 2017).
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.