Hot water urn and tea tray
Sheffield plate, wood
Overall: 19 1/4 x 11 3/4 x 13 in. (48.9 x 29.8 x 33 cm)
Inscription: engraved in the urn's reserve: the Beekman family crest, two wings addorsed on an armor helmet, over, "J B" in script Engraving: Top of urn, just under shoulder, has bright-cut engraved border of scrolling flowers and foliate tendrils with
Cast and wrought Sheffield plated hot water urn and tray; urn-shaped body with two flutes at each side of the body, at the ends; applied, concave shoulder with an applied gadrooned band around the rim; bezel inside; bright-cut band of flowers and circles below the shoulder; circular reserve on the front center of the body, surrounded by a bright-cut garland, engraved with the Beekman family crest, two wings addorsed on an armor helmet, over, "J B" in script; oval domed lid, with a deep bezel, surmounted by a ball finial; two pivoting ring handles with cylinder hinges, applied to either side of the body with cast lion's mask joints; long round spout, applied to the body with an oval joint with a reeded edge; curved spigot from a cylindrical tap with a cast ball finial and a s-scroll handle with a screw-on conical silver finial; seated on a trumpet-shaped pedestal flared to a square bottom; pedestal applied to a square base with concave sides seated on four ball feet with mid-bands; vertically applied, plain base band; wrought and seamed coal cylinder hung on an interior lip from an applied, slightly domed, oval disk with two circular holes cut out on either side; circular lid fitted into the cylinder with a ring handle; no maker's marks. Cast and seamed Sheffield plated tray; flat oval base with a wooden liner; vertically applied sides with geometric pierced work bands around the edges and pierced ovals with four leaf clovers around the center of the sides; engraved crosses made of ovals between the pierced work around the edges and bright-cut bell flower garlands around the center; applied reeded baseband and a cast, applied beaded band around the rim; cut ovoid handles at each end; no maker's marks.
Hot water urns for making tea were fashionable from the 1770s well into the nineteenth century. A hostess could dispense hot water from the urn's tap directly onto tea leaves in the teapot, ensuring freshly brewed, piping hot tea. Sterling silver urns of this size were rare in England and America, but less expensive versions in fused silver plate-popularly known as Sheffield plate-offered a convincing imitation at a fraction of the cost. This fused plate urn belonged to John Beekman (1768-1843), the fourth son of wealthy New York merchant James Beekman (1732-1807). The galleried tray, not made en suite with the urn but paired by the family, provided a convenient vehicle for carrying the tea service, cups and saucers, and spoons into the parlor and also protected the surface of the tea table from drips or spills.
Bequest of Catherine Augusta De Peyster
John Beekman (1768-1843), who married Mary Elizabeth Goad Bedlow (1771-1845); to their daughter Mary Beekman (1800-1885), who married William Axtell De Peyster (1793-1856); to their daughter Catharine Augusta De Peyster (1835-1911), the donor.
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.