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Circular urn-shape teapot with incurved neck and double-flared hinged lid topped by an urn finial on a flared, circular pedestal with stepped, domed foot; engraved in script on one side of body "Mrs. Joanna L. Howard / From a Friend / Oct. 27\th 1858." Greek key band at shoulder and beading at neck, shoulder, top of pedestal and edge of foot. Sprigged S-curve spout with scalloped base. Sprigged and tapered S-curve handle with raised bands at ends, the lower end attached to body by a stepped oval plate. Body perforated at spout. No marks.
Part of a six-piece coffee and tea service, 2013.0193.01-.06, given to Joanna Louise (Turpin) Howard (1825-1872) of Boston. The Howards were among several socially prominent free black families living in the city's affluent West End in the 1850s. Although the reasons for this splendid gift from a mystery “Friend” are unknown, Mrs. Howard and her husband, Edward Frederick Howard (1813-1893), were active in the antislavery movement and fought to end segregation of Massachusetts public schools in 1855. Their two daughters, Adeline (b. 1845) and Joan Imogene (b. 1850), became distinguished educators, while their son, Edwin Clarence (1846-1912), was the first African-American graduate of Harvard Medical School.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
presentation date
Howard, Joanna Louise Turpin
place made
United States
place used
United States: Massachusetts, Boston
Physical Description
silverplate (overall material)
overall: 10 1/2 in x 9 in; 26.67 cm x 22.86 cm
base: 3 3/4 in; 9.525 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
African American
Coffee Drinking
Tea Drinking
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Domestic Life
Domestic Furnishings
Abolitionist Tea Service
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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I am curious as to why this set is listed as silver plate. It appears to be silver. If I had the set in hand, I would be able to tell with some certainty but from your photos this appears to bet the case.
The set consists of a six-piece tea service – two teapots, a coffee pot, creamer, sugar, and waste bowl – in a neoclassical style, with Greek key details, beaded edges and urn finials on the lids. The service is heavily plated silver on white metal with a gold wash on the interior. Each piece is engraved with the same inscription – “Mrs. Joanna L. Howard / From a Friend / Oct. 27th 1858.” The set was not marked by the maker, though it is likely American in manufacture and possibly by the Smith and Co. of Albany, New York. Smith produced a similar, yet more embellished, pattern called “1790”. Boston manufacturers such as Jones, Shreve, Brown & Company also made plated sets during this time period. When it was presented in 1858, the Howard family resided in the fashionable West End of Boston, Massachusetts, at 40 Poplar Street. Boston directories list Edwin F. Howard at 40 Poplar Street, variously listed as a hairdresser, caterer, and waiter. His brother, also listed as a hairdresser, is also listed at that address, at least around the same time as the service presentation date.

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