Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia

Athens of America

Hot Water Urn

Presented to Charles Thomson in esteem for his service as the first secretary of the Continental Congress in 1774, this hot water urn is considered the first monumental American expression of the Greek-inspired neoclassical style.

Presented to Charles Thomson in esteem for his service as the first secretary of the Continental Congress in 1774, this hot water urn is considered the first monumental American expression of the Greek-inspired neoclassical style. Into the 1800s, Philadelphia silversmiths favored sleek oval, round, and fluted forms that imitated columns of Greek temples. For decoration, deep chasing gave way to flat engraving.

Courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art. Silver made in Philadelphia, 1774, by Richard Humphreys, American, born West Indies, 1749 -1832. Engraved by James Smither, English (active Philadephia), died 1797. Silver Height: 21 1/2 inches. Purchased with funds contributed by The Dietrich American Foundation, 1977.

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