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Connecting the Dots

The lid of a covered serving dish engraved “Mary C. Gibbs,” made by London silversmiths John Parker and Edward Wakelin in 1769
The lid of a covered serving dish engraved “Mary C. Gibbs,” made by London silversmiths John Parker and Edward Wakelin in 1769
The silver coffeepot mentioned in Mary Channing Gibbs’ estate papers. The urn shape of the vessel and engraved decorations that resemble laurel wreaths are classical elements of the Federal style.
The silver coffeepot mentioned in Mary Channing Gibbs’ estate papers. The urn shape of the vessel and engraved decorations that resemble laurel wreaths are classical elements of the Federal style.

While visiting museums in New York City to research provenance of the Pavilion Collection, Curatorial Assistant Meredith Moore came across an interesting note in the estate papers of Mary Channing Gibbs, great grandmother of museum co-founder Sarah G. T. Pell. Among a flurry of correspondence about real estate in and around Newport, RI, a short paragraph about pieces of silver stood out. It was Mary’s wish that silver engraved to Sarah Gibbs should descend through the Sarah Gibbs’ in the family, beginning with her daughter.

A detail of the engraved cartouche monogrammed “S. G.” for Sarah Gibbs.
A detail of the engraved cartouche monogrammed “S. G.” for Sarah Gibbs.

That little snippet of information took on new meaning during the intensive effort to catalog silver in the Pavilion Collection. As we unpacked one of the boxes and unwrapped the pieces within, the engravings on a covered serving dish and tall coffeepot stood out. The serving dish was engraved “Mary C. Gibbs,” and the coffeepot monogrammed “S. G.”. That coffeepot, made by Baltimore silversmith William Ball between 1800 and 1810 is one of the pieces mentioned in Mary’s estate papers. Her wishes were followed and the coffeepot descended through three generations of Sarah Gibbs until it became part of the Pavilion Collection.

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