Neo-Classical Tea or Coffee Urn, about 1831–35
Baldwin Gardiner (1791–1869), New York (active 1827–47)
12 3/4 in. high, 9 1/4 in. wide, 11 1/2 in. deep (overall)
Signed and inscribed (with touches, on the bottom): B • GARDINER / NEW • YORK; (with raised monogram, on back): DEA
Weight: 73 oz. Troy
EXHIBITED: Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York, 2001–02, Of the Newest Fashion: Masterpieces of American Neo-Classical Decorative Arts, pp. 68 illus. overall view and detail of signature, 96 cat. 47A // Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York, 2011–12, The World of Duncan Phyfe: The Arts of New York, 1800–1847, p. 100 no. 54 illus. 100
EX COLL.: DEA
Baldwin Gardiner was an important importer, retailer, and sometimes manufacturer of household goods. According to Deborah Waters, formerly Curator of American Decorative Arts at the Museum of the City of New York, in 1815 Baldwin Gardiner married Louise-Leroy Veron, sister of Louis Veron, with whom he was in business in Philadelphia from 1817 to 1826 as a retailer of household wares (see Elegant Plate: Three Centuries of Precious Metals in New York City, [New York: Museum of the City of New York, 2000], pp. 341, 343). In 1827, Gardiner left Philadelphia and set up a "furnishings warehouse" at 149 Broadway, New York, where he remained in business until 1836, before relocating first to 39 Nassau Street in the fall of that year, and then to California in 1848.
Baldwin Gardiner's "furnishings warehouse" was stocked with a wide variety of imported goods, including porcelain, glass, lamps, and chandeliers. For important silver commissions, he occasionally turned to Thomas Fletcher, former partner of his late younger brother Sidney Gardiner, of the distinguished Philadelphia silversmithing firm of Fletcher & Gardiner, to fill an especially demanding order.
This stunning urn was presumably made in Baldwin Gardiner’s own shop, which, stylistically, must not have been long after he established his own silver work rooms about 1831. The cast borders around the body and base, as well as the spigot, handles, feet, and the finial on the cover are all the best quality and suggest that the as-yet unidentified “DEA,” whose raised initials on the back are themselves a demonstration of ultimate skill, had ordered from Baldwin Gardiner a consummate example of his craft.