John Jay Homestead’s Curator on American Silver


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Curator’s Fabulous Finds, a series of artifact talks at John Jay Homestead, will continue on Sunday, May 15 at 2:00 p.m., and will be repeated on Thursday, May 19 at 7:00 p.m. This spring’s lecture will examine and discuss British, Spanish, and American silver from the Homestead’s historic collection. The cost of admission will be $10.00 per person; members of the Friends of John Jay Homestead may attend at no charge.

Like all members of the upper class in the early 19th century, the Jays used fine silver on a day-to-day basis. Among the objects to be examined are John Jay’s elegant, Neoclassical Sheffield plate hot water urn and a very rare, early 18th-century sterling silver teapot made for his wife’s grandmother by the noted silversmith, Pieter Van Dyck.

Attendees will also view up close such unusual objects as an 18th-century silver table fork from Spain, a Bull’s Eye lamp (which burned whale oil), a silver and coral whistle and bells (a baby’s toy for play and for teething), and a mote spoon, used for removing stray tea leaves from one’s cup of tea. The differences between sterling silver, coin silver, and Sheffield plate will be discussed, as will the techniques of hand working silver in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Space at the talk is limited, and reservations are strongly suggested. To reserve seats, call John Jay Homestead at (914) 232-5651, extension 105.

John Jay was a President of the Continental Congress, the second U.S. Secretary for Foreign Affairs, the first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and the second Governor of New York State. He retired to Bedford in 1801 to live the life of a gentleman farmer. His home is now a beautiful sixty-two acre historic site that includes lovely walks, several gardens, farm buildings, and a richly-decorated main residence restored to the 1820s, the last decade of Jay’s life.

John Jay Homestead State Historic Site is located at 400 Route 22, Katonah, Westchester County, NY. John Jay Homestead is regularly open for guided tours Sunday through Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and at other times by appointment.

Photo: John Jay’s silver tea urn. Courtesy john Jay Homestead.

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