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Hughes, Christopher
Place Made:
Baltimore Maryland United States of America
Date Made:
HOA: 4-7/8″; WOA: 8-3/8″
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: One of a pair of silver sauceboats, oval in shape with pouring lip at one end and applied cast handle at the other. Handle decorated at top of the c-scroll with an acanthus design. Body supported by three c-scroll legs terminating with pad feet. Legs attached to body with shell ornaments. Rim of the boat is shaped with scalloping.

INSCRIPTION: Engraved in script “DEG” on side of body, for Daniel Grant (1734-1816) and Elizabeth Grant (1741-1789).

MARK: Struck three times on the bottom of body with an intaglio “CH” mark contained within a rectangle reserve.

MAKER: Christopher Hughes was born in Ireland about 1744, coming to Baltimore from Dublin in 1771. He and his partner, John Carnan, operating under the name Christopher Hughes & Co., were among the first advertisers in the “Maryland Journal and Baltimore Advertiser,” where they spoke of themselves as goldsmiths and jewelers “at the sign of the CUP and CROWN, the corner of Market and Gay Streets.” This partnership was dissolved in 1774 and Hughes continued the business alone. He later extended his activities to make a considerable fortune in brickyards and real estate holdings; as early as 1787 documents refer to him as “gentleman.” It is doubtful that Hughes made much silver after the 1780s as no silver in the new neoclassical style then in fashion and bearing his mark has yet been found. His portrait was painted by Charles Willson Peale circa 1789 and shows a successful businessman and the busy port of Baltimore in the background (the portrait is in the collection of the Detroit Institute of Art, Acc. 2010.179). Hughes died in 1824, leaving his wife and three sons and four daughters. See Jacob Hall Pleasants and Howard Sill, “Maryland Silversmiths, 1715-1830” (Baltimore, MD: Lord Baltimore Press, 1930) and Jennifer Faulds Goldsborough, “Silver in Maryland” (Baltimore, MD: Maryland Historical Society, 1983).

FORM: The sauceboat was introduced to American silver during the early eighteenth century and remained a popular form through the twentieth century. Most eighteenth-century examples follows a standard form of single pouring lip, three feet, and scrolled handle. The curved, scrolled handle with acanthus design, scalloped rim, and applied shell ornament and pad feet are characteristic of silver sauceboats of the third quarter of the eighteenth century. By the 1790s neoclassical taste introduced urn-shaped sauceboats with lids as well as versions with oval or round pedestal bases and D- and S-shaped handles.

The initials “DEG” refer to Daniel Grant (1734-1816) and his wife Elizabeth Grant (1741-1789). Grant was the proprietor of the Indian Queen Tavern and later the Fountain Inn of Baltimore, as well as the founder of Grantsville, Maryland. Grant’s ownership of the Fountain Inn is of particular note. It is not difficult to imagine that these silver sauceboats would have been on the dining table at Grant’s Fountain Inn and possibly used by George and Martha Washington as well as other well-known guests such as Thomas Jefferson. “No place in Baltimore was as popular or so much visited by the notables of the day as this fine inn… . General and Mrs. Washington stopped here frequently and were always received with a glowing address or sumptuous repast. General Lafayette and Commodore Rodgers and Perry were lavishly entertained here…” (“Baltimore: Its History and Its People” Vol. 1, edited by Clayton Colman Hall [Baltimore, MD: Lewis Historical Publishing, 1912], 131).
Credit Line:
Gift of Frank L. Horton