Teapot

ARTIST / MAKER: Samuel Kirk & Son (manufacturer)
DATE: 1846-1861 (made)
PLACE: Baltimore (made)
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Silver, with ivory insulators
COLLECTION NUMBER: 176

Samuel Kirk founded the oldest silversmithing company in the U.S.A. and established a shop in Baltimore in 1815 under his own name. Kirk was a direct descendant of two prominent families of English silversmiths, and he is credited with the introduction of the repoussé technique to America, whereby the reverse side of the silver is hammered to create an intricate design in low-relief, then refined from the exterior with small tools. This technique was employed by the company to create the firm’s signature detailed scenes, which can be seen on this teapot. The design includes architectural scenes, blossoms and foliage, which was the most successful ornamentation used by the firm to decorate tea services, pitchers and drinking vessels. Kirk championed the revival of the European Rococo style, and was quickly recognised for his fine craftmanship which earned him the responsibility of restoring hundreds of gold flatware pieces from the White House dinner service. The maker’s marks stamped on this teapot were used between 1846 and 1861, when Kirk’s son Henry was a partner in the firm.