Collections › MESDA Collection › Pitcher


Place Made:
Possibly Georgia United States of America
Date Made:
HOA: 8-1/4″; WOA: 5″; DIA (base): 3″
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Silver agricultural fair premium in the form of a pitcher. Bulbous body topped by a wide-lipped spout with an attached S-scroll handle cast with acanthus-leaf designs. Engraved C-scrolls and flowers circle the body with a large cartouche on the side of the body under the spout used for the presentation engraving. Body sits atop a short, flared pedestal and a round molded base.

INSCRIPTION: Engraved “Southern / Central Agricultural Society / to / Thomas G. Bacon” on side of body. The pitcher was a premium awarded at the 1850 Southern Central Agricultural Society fair held in Macon, Georgia.

MAKER: The pitcher does not have any manufacturer’s or retailer’s marks.

FORM: Agricultural fair prizes, or premiums, were often engraved silver pitchers, goblets, cups, and beakers rather than cash money. The silver premiums, it was hoped, would become treasured family mementos and foster continued innovation in farming communities because agricultural experimentation and adaptation were paramount to the success of American farmers of the nineteenth century. During that period, as lands in the American Deep South, Midwest and Far West were settled, the unique soils and unfamiliar climates of those new regions required experimentation with crops, farming practices, and tools in order to establish a thriving agricultural economy. Agricultural and mechanical societies fostered and encouraged such innovations. By the 1850s, considered the golden age of the movement, there were nearly 1,000 agricultural and mechanical societies in America. The Civil War severely curtailed their growth, especially in the South, and by the late nineteenth century nearly all privately operated agricultural and mechanical societies had ceased to function. By the final decades of the nineteenth century the encouragement of agricultural innovation largely became a role for governmental agencies, many of which began to sponsor state and county fairs similar to those still operated today. See Gary Albert, “Of Troughs and Trophies: A Collection of Silver Agricultural Premiums,” The Magazine ANTIQUES, May/June 2017, 110-117.

In 1850, Thomas Bacon was the recording secretary for the Southern Central Agricultural Society, the producer of the fair held in Macon, Georgia at which this pitcher was presented as a premium.
Credit Line:
Loan courtesy of Hank and Mary Brockman