Coster had been born in Holland and followed his older brother to New York around the Revolution. They became successful merchants of "Holland goods" before the brother's death in 1821. John became President of the Merchant's Bank in 1826, and was a director of the Manhattan Bank and the Phoenix and Globe Insurance Companies. He married Catharine Lorillard, linking him with one of the city's wealthiest families.
In 1830, Coster's mansion was the only holdout on the block John Jacob Astor wanted for his luxurious new Astor House hotel; Astor was forced to pay $60,000 for the plot. Coster commissioned a lavish new mansion from A.J. Davis and Ithlet Town at 539-540 Broadway, between Spring and Prince. Described by diarist Philip Hone as "a noble granite house, furnished in the most elegant style", it was probably for this grand new house that this tureen was commissioned.
The new house was abandoned to the commercialization of Broadway shortly after Coster's death in 1846, becoming a theater, but the tureen descended in the family - the Costers had nine children - until its sale in 1992.
(Much information drawn from "The Lost Coster Mansion" on 'Daytonian in Manhattan' blog, November 21, 2016).
Baldwin Gardiner (1791-1869) was the younger brother of silversmith Sidney Gardiner, of the firm Fletcher and Gardiner. Baldwin worked for this partnership in their new Philadelphia retail shop until 1815 when he established his own fancy hardware store. He partnered with his brother-in-law Lewis Veron from 1817 to 1826, then moved to New York to open a household furnishings warehouse. Located at 149 Broadway, this carried imported and more substantial goods than the Philadelphia shop. In addition to home furnishings, Baldwin retailed special-order silver wares, the orders often filled by Fletcher and Gardiner. Baldwin Gardiner's career as a silver manufacturer and retailer ended in 1848 when he moved again, to California.
This tureen shows the ambition of wealthy Americans to live as well as their English counterparts. The overall design is very similar to an example by the Royal Goldsmiths Rundell, Bridge, and Rundell, with lobed body and acanthus band, and the whole raised on a plateau (see Clayton, Michael. Christie's Pictoral History of English and American Silver, 1985, p. 252 No. 2, incorrectly dated 1810).
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