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Ewan, John
Place Made:
Charleston South Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
HOA: 13″; DOA: 9″
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Large silver pitcher with an wide, squared spout opposite an applied S-scroll handle with acanthus leaves. The top of the handle rises above the rim where it is attached and the bottom is attached on the shoulder of the octagonal body. The spout and body, which were constructed separately and joined, feature reppouse ornament of C-scrolls, flowers, and acanthus leaves and a large central cartouche on the body features the inscription. An applied octagonal base ring mimics the sides of the body.

INSCRIPTION: Engraved in script “An / Emblem of Friendship / from / F C / to / Mrs. Martha Egleston / 1851” on the body within a central cartouch for Martha DuBose Porcher Eggleston (1805-1865).

MARK: Struck three times on underside of base with incuse “J.EWAN” marks and nine faux hallmarks (two stars, three lions, and an four indecipherable marks) that obscure two manufacturer’s marks (which are now indecipherable).

MAKER: From the amount of his silver still in existence, John Ewan (b.c.1786-1852) must have been one of the most prolific of the silversmiths working during the first half of the nineteenth century in Charleston, South Carolina. Although born in New York, there is a possibility that Ewan arrived in Charleston by way of the West Indies. This latter supposition is based on the fact that some silver with his mark has been found in Jamaica. The first knowledge that we have of Ewan’s presence in Charleston comes from an advertisement that appeared in 1823 stating the Ewan and Peter Mood Jr. (1796-1879) were in business together under the firm name of P. Mood & Co. Doubtlessly he was associated with Mood before they formed this partnership. Two years later Ewan was advertising under his own name at 203 King Street as a gold and silversmith, adding that he had jewelry for “Freemason’s Lodges and Knights Templars… .” In addition to being a silversmith, Ewan seems to have operated a rather extensive jewelry business, for he frequently stated in advertisments that he had just received a fine shipment of jewelry and watches. His shop was destroyed in a 1838 fire, but he seems to have saved much of his stock for he reopened at 38 Queen Street. See E. Milby Burton, “South Carolina Silversmiths 1690-1860” (Charleston, SC: Charleston Museum, 1967).

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.

Descended from the pitcher’s recipient Martha DuBose Porcher Eggleston (1805-1865) of Charleston, whom was married in 1840 to her second husband, George Washington Eggleston (1795-1863). Upon Martha Eggleston’s 1865 death in Fairfield Co., South Carolina, the pitcher was inherited by her son DuBose Eggleston (1843-1894) and then from father to son through three generations to the current owner. The identity of individual whom presented the pitcher, “F C,” is unknown.
Credit Line:
Loan courtesy of Robert J. Egleston