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Aiken, George
Place Made:
Baltimore Maryland United States of America
Date Made:
silver, with wooden handle
HOA: 10-7/8″, WOA: 10″, DOA: 4-3/8″
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Silver teapot in with urn-shaped body on a pedestal and square base. Hinged, stepped lid topped by a cast urn finial. Wooden C-scroll handle attached to body with cylindrical silver sockets (early repair to wooden handle employs a silver cuff and ring). Cast shell device at top of spout. Beaded molding attached around lid, rim, round base, and along solder joint of spout.

INSCRIPTION: Engraved with script intitals “WAC” on side of body.

MARK: Struck twice on outside faces of square base with intaglio “G•Aiken” (script) mark in a conforming reserve.

MAKER: George Aiken (1765-1832) first advertised in Baltimore during 1787, begging “…to aquaint the ladies and gentlemen… that he carries on the Goldsmith and jewellery business in their various branches; and also executes all manner of Devices, worked in Hair for Lockets, Rings, Pins, &c.” Nine years later, Aiken opened a shop at 1 South Calvert Street, and from 1802 to 1812 he operated his business at 72 Baltimore Street. His most prolific period was up to about 1810–only one piece of his silver is known that bears the Baltimore Assay Office mark, established in 1814. He remains listed as a silversmith of various locations until 1823, when he is referred to simply as “gentleman.” Apparently, financial difficulties drove Aiken out of his practiced trade. Throughout his career, Aiken was known for his requent use of classical urn shape forms and at least seven different marks are attributed to him. See Jacob Hall Pleasants and Howard Sill, “Maryland Silversmiths, 1715-1830” (Baltimore, MD: Lord Baltimore Press, 1930).

FORM: For most of the eighteenth century the accouterments of the tea ceremony were acquired separately and did not necessarily match in style and shape. By the 1790s, all elements of a tea service (coffeepot, teapot, sugar bowl, waste bowl, and cream pitcher) were made somewhat uniformly in style, with the smaller pieces following the form of the coffee and teapots.

Credit Line:
James H. Willcox Jr. Silver Purchase Fund