The Museum has acquired a rare, early 19th-century American blown-glass creamer for its comprehensive glass collection, which spans 35 centuries.
The small light blue creamer, which measures 12.6 cm high and 5.5 cm in diameter (rim), includes a knop (hollow bubble in the stem) enclosing a 1794 U.S. cent coin—a feature rarely found in American glass of this period. Often, coins included in hand-made glass objects were meant to commemorate a special date, such as an anniversary or birthday.
The creamer was given to Frank W. Hill by his grandmother, Abigail Ware Foote (b. 1819) on January 16, 1860. According to family tradition, it was originally a birthday present for Hill’s great-grandmother, Abigail Whitaker Ware (1781-1865) or her mother Ruth Whitaker. The piece was probably made in the early 1800s, likely at the glass works in Kensington, North Philadelphia. The name of the craftsman who made the creamer is not known. Descendants of Hill sold the piece at auction in August 2012.
“It’s highly unusual for an early American glass object of this caliber to survive and appear on the market,” says Jane Shadel Spillman, the Museum’s curator of American glass. “What’s even more unusual is that this creamer was held by the same family for more than 150 years, so its history is well-known. We are pleased to add this important object to our American glass collection.”
The Museum’s outstanding collection of American glass dating from the early 18th century to the mid-20th century includes more than 11,000 works. The collection showcases the history of American glass production ranging from rare early blown glass to mass-produced bottles and tableware, elaborately cut and engraved glass and decorative art glass.
There are two similar early American 19th-century creamers in the collection; one has a knop with Spanish coin dated 1781. The new blue creamer is now on view in the Museum’s American gallery.