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Author Topic:   Rare form?
swarter
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iconnumber posted 06-19-2003 07:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Has anyone seen anything like this in Early American silver?

This is a combination coffee-pot/tea pot defined as:

quote:
A combined utensil for making and serving coffee and tea, in the form of a teapot upon which rests a coffee dripper; when used as a teapot, the upper unit can be removed and the cover fits the teapot. (An Illustrated Dictionary of Silverware by Harold Newman){note: It is not a percolator}.

It is by Garrett Eoff (1779 - 1858) w. New York City c. 1801 - 1848).

An early owner of this pot scratched his name and address on the bottom of the pot - he is only to be found in the 1840 Census for New York City. There are no engraved initials (and none removed) so he may not have been the original owner. This style of pot was made in the 1790's in Sheffield plate as well as silver - an example is to be found in a museum in Sheffield, England (photo: Sheffield Silver Plate by G.B.Hughes):

So far I have found no other example illustrated. If the coffee dripper section of such a combination pot were lost, the remaining teapot would be unrecognizable as anything other than an ordinary teapot. The oval straight sided style of Eoff's pot is typical of teapots of the 1790's, but the spout and ferrules are similar to those he used on a later, fully developed Empire style teapot of the '30s or '40s. Eoff's pot could have been made anywhere between 1801 and 1840 - probably after 1820; he is known to have dealt in Sheffield plate, so this pot could well be a copy of one like that in the museum photo.

If anyone has any thoughts or information on this or other examples, please contribute.

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wev
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iconnumber posted 06-19-2003 09:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A lovely and interesting piece. The form is known as a Biggin after the man who is said to have invented it in Sheffield. I saw one in a plate collection in England years ago and actually used a modern (1960ish) version while in Boy Scouts. I have never seen one in silver.

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swarter
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iconnumber posted 06-19-2003 10:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The first impulse is to call the piece a biggen, because that is a better known form, but I think that the term has been somewhat loosely used. The term seems to have had various applications until the 18th Century, when, according to my information, the term was applied to cylindrical one piece units having a short spout at the top opposite the handle, with a suspension device inside to hold the actual biggin, which was a muslin bag containing the coffee - sort of like a modern teabag. They were made in England in silver and Sheffield plate until c.1820.

My mother used to brew her coffee in a two-piece aluminum drip pot, much the same design as the combination pot, in which hot water poured over loose coffee grounds was filtered through holes in the bottom of the top unit.

(photo from the same Dictionary as above)

Fales (Early American Silver) states that coffee biggins as such are unknown in American silver, and that while one New York maker (Thomas Warren,listed in Darling as an importer, c.1805-7) did advertise "silver coffee pots and biggins", there are no known surviving examples. There is no indication of what they may have looked like.

Do you remember whether the piece you saw in England had one or two pieces? My guess would be that the boy scout pot would have been of the two piece drip variety. (I am not trying to be argumentative here - I am attempting to get as much input as possible, and trying to pin things down as exactly as I can, as this Eoff pot may turn out to be of more than passing interest.

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wev
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iconnumber posted 06-19-2003 11:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Oh, I think it safe to say your piece is of more than passing interest!

I wish I could say I closely inspected the English piece, but I did not -- it was one of many items in a large and varied collection. I can say it looked very much like the Sheffield piece shown (also shown in Wenham's Domestic Silver) and appeared to be made of several close fitting pieces, rather than a whole. My scouting piece was identical in construction (comparing coal to diamonds) to your piece; the only difference being that for portage, the top part could be inverted and inserted into the pot, then the lip put on.

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labarbedor

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iconnumber posted 06-19-2003 11:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for labarbedor     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
OK you two, I wish someone would let me know when there is some doubt as to the origin of something. The answer is of course always France. This is no doubt a rare, possibly unique form in American silver, but they are as common as dirt in France. I don't know when they were first made, but certainly by 1790. They come in porcelain, silver, etc.. My wife made me keep one. I will post a picture tomorrow. By the way it is a filtered coffee pot, not a tea pot.
A Plus tard.
Maurice

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Bill H

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iconnumber posted 06-20-2003 12:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bill H     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does this pot have a significant solder repair on the inside by the handle? If so, then this is the one offered by Lauren Stanley on eBay several months ago. If not, then there are at least two.

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swarter
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iconnumber posted 06-20-2003 11:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Bill H: This is the one. There is what appears to be a mending of a separation in the seam (not a tear) at the lower attachment of the handle, visible only from the inside (what look like beads of solder on the outside in my photograph are only reflections). Since this repair was not mentioned by the sellers, and it was only up for a short time as a buy-it-now, you must be familiar with the piece. Can you tell me anything of its history? Email me if you like.

And Maurice: It sounds as if the French were more addicted to caffeine than the Anglos. That must explain the excesses of their Revolution!

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wev
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iconnumber posted 06-20-2003 12:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I found a note in Water's Elegant Plate that the firm of Eoff (Edgar Mortimer) and Phyfe (William M.) sold a "Coffee Biggin" to James Bogert in October 1844. He paid $49.80, receiving credit for 42 oz, 10 dwt of old silver.

[This message has been edited by wev (edited 06-20-2003).]

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labarbedor

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iconnumber posted 06-20-2003 12:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for labarbedor     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well here are the promised pictures:



This one is c. 1830 but I am sure I could find earlier ones.

Stuart, what excesses are those?

Maurice

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swarter
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iconnumber posted 06-20-2003 02:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Nice bit of information, Erik. I don't have that reference. What relationship there may have been between the Eoffs is not clear to me. I don't find an entry for either of them in your genealogy yet - might be a good one for you to work on. Although Edgar only appears in the directories a few years before the deaths of both men in 1858, he appeared around the time Garret seems to have stopped working. He was born only 6 years after Garret,so one wonders if he were not a brotheror nephew, perhaps working together while the elder Garret was active. (Edgar)Eoff & Phyfe were suppliers to the trade, and probably sold that "biggin" to Bogert for resale, so we now have four names that could appear on New York pots. I sure would like to know how they used the term "biggin." Some contmporary advertisers used line cuts, so somewhere there may be an ad with a picture.

Maurice - your French pot looks to be showing red/brown around the edges - is it silver on copper? It also seems to operate differently. I don't see any holes in the bottom of the upper section - either they are very small, or the coffee had to be poured into the lower section for serving?

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wev
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iconnumber posted 06-20-2003 03:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Edgar Mortimer (born 22 Oct 1817) was Garret Eoff's son. Garret was born 29 Aug 1779 and died 31 Jul 1845. They are in my tree, but will have to wait a re-build of the site before inclusion there.

One would assume that Edgar trained under his father, but I have found nothing to confirm it.

Bogert purchased goods from both father (alone and during his partnerships with John Connor and John Moore) and son. He also brought pieces to both for repair and refurbishing.

As for the biggin, it may be worth a search of the graphic arts collection at the New York Public Library; they have masses of advertising material from that period.

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swarter
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iconnumber posted 06-20-2003 03:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That makes more sense. I got my dates from Quimby after finding conflicting information elsewhere. One tends to accept Winterthur information - obviously incorrect in this instance. Is there online access to the NYPL collection, or do you have to go there?

PS - here is the answer to my own question:
digitalcollections.nypl.org/

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labarbedor

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iconnumber posted 06-20-2003 11:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for labarbedor     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The filtered coffee pot is plated. There are hundreds of holes, I guess to fine to show in the photo. Again, what excesses were we talking about?
Maurice

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swarter
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iconnumber posted 01-28-2004 07:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Fales (Early American Silver) states that coffee biggins as such are unknown in American silver, and that while one New York maker (Thomas Warren,listed in Darling as an importer, c.1805-7) did advertise "silver coffee pots and biggins", there are no known surviving examples. There is no indication of what they may have looked like.

quote:
(Edgar)Eoff & Phyfe were suppliers to the trade, and probably sold that "biggin" to Bogert for resale, so we now have four names that could appear on New York pots.

I have just come across a reference to an ad placed December 1, 1804 in the Weekly Museum by John Wolfe Forbes of New York City that, in addition to a list of wares on hand, included the following:

quote:
Silver Tea Sets, Coffee-pots and Biggens, Waiters, Wine-salvers, &c. made to any pattern, on the shortest notice.

So it is evident that biggins were made (or at least offered) in New York by several makers around the turn of the Century. This is indicative of some level of demand for the form. Unless the term was used differently here than in England, it is surprising that so few, if any, are known to have survived.

The last sentence in the ad is also of particular interest:

quote:
Workmanship and Silver warranted equal to British Sterling. N.B. Old Gold and Silver taken in payment.

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