Lot 443
  • 443

A Highly Important American Silver Punch Bowl, Cornelius Kierstede, New York, 1700-1710

400,000 - 800,000 USD
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  • marked CK in a rectangle three times to left of each handle, base with scratch weight 67oz 14
  • diameter approximately 12 1/4 in., length over handles 17 1/4 in.
  • 31.7cm, 43.8cm
the bowl divided into six curved panels, each chased with a lobate cartouche centered by boldly chased and engraved leafy floral sprays, one cartouche with flower bud resembling a dog's head, another with stem extending into an engraved long-beaked bird head, all with partly-matted and pricked decoration, the upper portion on one panel engraved with early interlaced cipher BF, the underside engraved and partly matted with a six-petalled double-flowerhead enclosing human faces at the tips of the outer and most-inner petals, with cast scroll handles, the upper handles formed as open-mouthed monsters, the lower ends forked and terminating in leafy scrolls, raised on a molded foot with die-rolled band of lozenges


Commodore Joshua Loring (1716-81) and his wife Mary Curtis (1720-1789/90), to their son
Joshua Loring, Jr. (1744-89), to his son
John Wentworth Loring (1775-1852), to his son
Reverend Henry Nele Loring (1811-98), to his brother
Admiral William Loring, K.C.B. (1819-95), by descent to the present owner


engraved initials circa 1730, early intiials probably removed from opposite side
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

This bowl is accompanied by two 19th century letters.  One letter dated 29 November 1873 states: "The chased silver bowl, valued at nineteen guineas, left to me as an heirloom by my father in 1852, I hereby give to my brother Adml. Loring C.B. instead of leaving it to him in my will. - Henry N. Loring." 

The second letter states: "Silver Bowl, Belonged to Joshua Loring & was buried in a well during the War of American Independence (the Loring family was then living in America) & brought up when it was over."

Probably the largest piece of early eighteenth century American silver, this monumental bowl has descended with a Loyalist family since before the American Revoluation, and just came to light in England last year.  The 230 years off its native shores have added a subtle patina to the original crisp and characterful detail 

The original owner of such a massive and valuable piece would have been a member of the wealthiest levels of Dutch society in New York City or Albany – possibly Col. Abraham de Peyster, Mayor of New York (1692-94).  De Peyster's will, probated in 1734, lists "1 large silver Punch Bowl", whose recorded weight with a serving spoon approximates that of the offered bowl.

The most comparable piece from Cornelius Kierstede's body of work is the two-handled "brandywine" bowl (diameter 9 11/16in., weight 25.9oz) made for Theunis Jacobsen Quick, a prominent New York baker.  The Quick bowl was previously thought to be the largest example of the form by any maker.  Its shaped panels of flowers edged with pricked decoration and compass rose on the base enclosing rudimentary faces are themes which Kierstede developed with great elaboration on the offered bowl.  The Quick bowl has beaded caryatid handles typical of the form, which would have appeared under-sized on the offered bowl.  The sculptural dolphin handles appear on a similarly large-scaled version of this form made in Amsterdam in 1658, and now in the collection of the Dutch Reformed Church, Bergen (see A.L. den Blaauwen, Nederlands Zilver, 1580-1830, Amsterdam, 1979, pgs. 138-39).

The Loring Family

This bowl has descended in the family of Commodore Joshua Loring (1716-81) a wealthy Boston-born tanner, who in 1740 married Mary Curtis (1720-1789/90) of Roxbury, MA.  At the age of twenty-eight Loring became a privateer in the English Colonial naval service, and was named a lieutenant the following year.  He was promoted to Captain in 1757 and later made Commodore.  During the French and Indian War, he commanded the fleets on Lake Champlain and Lake George in upstate New York, and it was likely been during this period when he acquired the Kierstede bowl.  Loring retired from the navy in 1760 and settled with his family in Jamaica Plains, MA, where he built a 4,500 sq ft. four-square Georgian mansion on a sixty-acre farm.  Known today as the Loring-Greenough House, the residence was converted to a historic house museum in 1926 and is open to the public.

As tension between the American colonies and England escalated in the years prior to the Revolution, Loring chose to side with the Crown.  In August 1774 he accepted an appointment under General Thomas Gage as one of his five "Mandamus Consellors".  The Lorings, who had been prominent members of local society, quickly became outcasts as their outraged neighbors learned of the Commodore's appointment.  The Commodore was "repeatedly mobbed and ill treated" to such an extent that the family was forced to flee their estate for the greater security of Boston by the end of the month.  Mrs. Loring is reported to have been particularly grieved as her brothers sided strongly with the Colonists, forcing her to choose between her husband and her family.  On 30 March 1775, Commodore Loring was denounced "an implacable enemy to their country" by the Massachusetts Provincial Congress. 

The family is known to have taken very few possessions with them to Boston.  An American tradition that the family's silver was buried on the estate prior to their evacuation was recently discussed in an article published in The Boston Globe 18 January 2009, and is also supported by a nineteenth-century letter which has descended with the bowl in England.  This letter states: "Silver Bowl, Belonged to Joshua Loring & was buried in a well during the War of American Independence (the Loring family was then living in America) & brought over when it was over."  The Lorings remained in Boston until March 1776, when they were able to leave with General William Howe's fleet for Halifax.  They relocated to England shortly afterwards.  Commodore and Mrs. Loring never returned to America and remained in England for the rest of their lives.  He died at Highgate, London in 1781, and she eight years later.  Mrs. Loring is said to have "regretted that they had left their native country".

Commodore and Mrs. Loring's son Joshua Loring, Jr. (1744-1789) had been a high-sheriff in Suffolk County, MA before the Revolution.  During the war he helped the Tory forces by serving under General Howe, and from 1777-83 was Deputy Commissary of American prisoners-of-war in New York.  Following the Revolution he was sharply criticized for his war-time duties, and moved his wife and five children to England where he died in 1789 (Eva Phillips Boyd, "Jamaica Plain by Way of London" in Old-Time New England: The Bulletin of the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, Volume XLIX, July 1958-April 1959, pgs.. 85-104).  It is believed to have been Joshua Loring Jr. who recovered the silver bowl from the well on the Loring estate and took it to England where it has remained for nearly 230 years

Cornelius Kierstede

Cornelius Kierstede (1674-1757) was born on Christmas Day in New York City.  He was the third generation of an established New York family of Dutch ancestry-- his grandfather, Dr. Hans Kierstede, was a respected surgeon who had emigrated from Magdeburg, Saxony in 1638.  He was the nephew by marriage of silversmiths Benjamin and Jesse Kipp, and in 1696 he became related to yet another New York silversmith when his brother, Dr. Hans Kierstede, married Dina Van Schaick, the sister-in-law of Gerrit Onckelbag.  Kierstede likely apprenticed to either Benjamin or Jesse Kip, and became a freeman in July 1698, when the registration fee was lowered for artisans and merchants who had been New York City residents for at least twelve years.  He registered again in 1702. 

In September 1703 he married Sarah Elsworth in New York, but the couple seems to have moved to Albany shortly after as their first child was baptized in Albany in December 1704.  Lord of the Manor and silversmith Kiliaen Van Rensselear (1663-1719) was witness to the baptism.  By November 1706 Kierstede and his family had returned to New York City, where his son was baptized in the Reformed Dutch Church.

Although there is little information on Kierstede's life in New York, his list of patrons (see following section) shows a successful craftsman supplying the most affluent members – particularly Dutch – of the colony.

In February 1722 Kierstede, along with partners James and Peter Ferris, became involved in copper mining in the "Blew Hills" area outside New Haven, CT.  Although Kierstede had apparently acquired property in New Haven by 1724 it seems that was still living partly in New York as he was represented "Cornelius Kierstead of City of New York Goldsmith" on the lease of a portion of his Connecticut property dated April 1727.   By October 1729 he appears to have relocated entirely to Connecticut as he is listed in public records as "Cornelius Kierstead, late of New York, now New Haven."   In 1753 a New Haven court moved to administer his property "by reason of his advanced age & Infirmities".  An inventory of his property was ordered, which amounted to more than 357 pounds.  Kierstede is believed to have died in Bergen, NJ, where he had family connections, and where a "Cornelius Kiersted" was buried in August 1757 (Deborah Dependahl Waters, Elegant Plate, Three Centuries of Precious Metals in New York City, New York: Museum of the City of New York, 2000, pgs. 142-43).

Kierstede and His Patrons

Approximately thirty-two pieces of Kierstede silver are known to exist today, with tankards accounting nearly half of his attributed works.  The majority of these pieces reside in the collections of important American institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, Winterthur, Colonial Williamsburg, the New York Historical Society, the Museum of the City of New York and the Yale University Art Gallery.  The list of patrons spanning his fifty-year career boasts some of the most prestigious names in New York, Albany and New Haven. 

His early work (pre-1720) for patrons living in New York and Albany accounts for two-thirds of the surviving pieces.  Based on engraved initials and arms nearly all of these pieces can be traced back to persons of Dutch ancestry, and likewise these pieces bear strong inferences to Dutch silver.  New York Dutch families connected with Kierstede's work include Col. Abraham de Peyster (c.1710 tankard in the collection of the New York Historical Society), his sister Elizabeth de Peyster Beekman (c.1710-20  tea kettle in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art), Jacabous and Eva Philipse Van Cortlandt (c.1700 tankard in the collection of the Museum of the City of New York), Jacabous and Margaret Teller Stoutenburg (c.1696-1720 tankard in Museum of the City of New York), Augustus Van Horne (c.1700-50 tankard at Metropolitan Museum of Art), Petrus and Margaret Livingston Stuyvesant (c.1698-1720 syllabub cup at Art Institute of Chicago) and Theunis Jacobsen Quick (c. 1700-10 brandywine bowl at Metropolitan Museum of Art).

Only four known pieces of Kierstede silver have definitive Albany connections.  A small brandywine bowl with rope-twist handles (diameter 4 ½ in.), currently in the Bayou Bend Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, was made for Marietje Pruyn Gerritse (1672-1731) presumably to commemorate the birth of a child.  More spectacular is a pair of candlesticks and a matching snuffer stand made for Johannes (1688-1747) and Elsie Staats Schulyer (c.1655-1737).  Schulyer, who was active in local government affairs, served as mayor of Albany from 1703-06, and it is likely that this set was commissioned during that period.  The Schulyler candlesticks and snuffer stand are unique within Kierstede's body of work in that they are the only known pieces to be chased with chinoiserie scenes based on Charles II examples.  These three pieces, which represent a divergence from Kierstede's more Dutch-inspired works, demonstrate flexibility and creativity as an artist.  Moreover, they illustrate the tremendous technical skill and artistic talent that he had achieved at this early point in his career. 

Early eighteenth-century New Haven was largely comprised of residents of English heritage, and thus Kierstede's roster of Connecticut patrons reflects this British presence. 

Notable New Haven commissions include a 1720 tankard made for the Baroness Jane Sill, Dowager Pile, and a c.1730 two-handled cup with the initials of John and Rebecca Yale (sold Sotheby's New York, Jeffords Collection, 29 October 2004, lot 733).  Additionally, church silver comprised a number of Kierstede's Connecticut commissions and includes two pieces given to the First Congregational Church of Milford—a 1729 two-handled beaker given by Mrs. Abigail Beech and a 1731 baptismal basin given by Mrs. Alice Buckingham.  Perhaps the most ambitious commission of Kierstede's late career was the 1745 punch bowl presented as a gift to Yale Professor Thomas Darling by his students.   This punch bowl, which lacks handles, is currently in the collection of the Yale University Art Gallery (see Kathryn C. Buhler and Graham Hood, American Silver: Garvan and Other Collections in the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1970, pgs.. 23031.  The Darling bowl, which is similar to the three bowls Kierstede made between 1700-10, would have seemed out-of-date at the time it was made, and thus it is suggested that the ornamentation likely represented a political statement on behalf of its donors.

Possible Original Owners of the Loring Bowl 

Although the Loring Bowl does not bear the initials of its original owner, the number of potential patrons can be narrowed to a select pool by examining the bowl's function, and Kierstede's known patrons and their economic standings. Commonly referred to as brandewijnskom or brandywine bowls, the six-paneled bowls made in America during late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries are unique New York and Albany and derive stylistically from Dutch, English and Huguenot sources. In keeping with Dutch tradition the bowls were typically given on the occasion of a wedding, funeral or birth of a child where they would be filled with brandy and raisins and passed between guests who would draw liquor with a silver spoon (John N. Pearce, "New York's Two-handled Paneled Silver Bowls" in The Magazine Antiques, October 1961, 1966).  Of the approximately twenty-five known brandywine bowls existing today, the Loring bowl is by far the largest known example of this tradition form.  Given the bowl's intended ceremonial purpose it can reasonably deduced that the original patron of the Loring bowl was most likely of Dutch ancestry, like most all of Kierstede's pre-1710 patrons.

At 66oz 8dwt the Loring bowl is probably the heaviest piece of early 18th century American silver.  A 1705 monteith by John Coney in the collection of the Yale University Art Gallery weighs 50oz 4dwt, and a 1715 cup and cover, also by Coney weighs 50oz 4dwt.  Recently discovered in England, the Coney cup and cover tied for the highest priced achieved in American silver when it was sold at Sotheby's, New York, 18 January 2002, lot 462.  The gross weight of the Loring bowl, in conjunction with the cost to execute its extraordinarily detailed decoration would have made it unaffordable to all but a very small group of people. A 1695 assessment of New York City occupations denotes that the highest grossing profession was that of merchant, with a median income of £130 per year. The next highest grossing occupations were baker and bolter, with median incomes of £73 per year. In 1695 there were forty-six male taxpayers of Dutch ancestry registered as merchants and retailers (Joyce D. Goodfriend, Before the Melting Pot, Society and Culture in Colonial New York City, 1664-1730, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992, pgs.. 65, 71).  Given the cost of the bowl it can be surmised that a familiarity with Kierstede's work would have been necessary in order for its patron to entrust the silversmith with a commission of this magnitude. Kierstede's roster of early patrons is comprised of some New York's most established mercantile families of the period, including the de Peyster, Van Cortlandt, Philipse, Teller, and Van Horne families. 

Within this small group of Kierstede's patrons Col. Abraham de Peyster (1657-1728) stands out as a strong contender for the original owner of the Loring bowl.  In addition to being one of New York's wealthiest merchants, de Peyster served as Mayor of New York (1692-94), interim Governor of the Colony (1701) and the first Treasurer of the Provinces of New York and New Jersey.  His will, probated in 1734 upon his wife's death, lists an amazing 1,618 ¾ oz of plate in the couple's stately home on Pearl Street.  Included in this inventory are "7 silver Tankards 197 ¾ oz, 10 silver Mugs 71", 7 silver Porringers 82 ½", 1 large silver Punch Bowl and Spoon 76 ½ ", 7 large and small Salvers 117 ½ ", 6 Candle Sticks, and three pair of snuffers and snuff boxes 137 ¼ ", 2 silver basins 95 ¼ ", 2 Cordial cups, and one ditto with cover 90" " (The New-York Historical Society Quarterly Bulletin, Vol V, April 1921- January 1922, p. 6).  The incredible quantity of silver represented in this inventory is a testament to de Peyster's considerable wealth and his propensity for lavish hospitality.  At least one of de Peyster's seven tankards was made by Kierstede and is in the collection of the New York Historical Society.  Additionally, his sister Elizabeth de Peyster Beekman was a patron of Kierstede.  Her tea kettle in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is the only known Kierstede kettle and features a sculptural bird-head spout reminiscent of the dolphin handles on the Loring bowl.  Not only was de Peyster able to afford a bowl of this significance but he would have been familiar with Kierstede's artistic talents.  It is tempting to speculate that the "1 large silver Punch Bowl and Spoon 76 ½" " may refer to the Loring bowl, as another bowl of this scale is not known.  If the original patron of the Loring bowl was not Abraham de Peyster, he was certainly someone of de Peyster's stature, and who likely moved in the same social circle.