452
452
American silver, silver-gilt, gold, and enamel model of a steam locomotive and coal tender, John Dean Benton, Wilmington, Delaware, circa 1865-70
Estimate
30,00050,000
LOT SOLD. 35,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT
452
American silver, silver-gilt, gold, and enamel model of a steam locomotive and coal tender, John Dean Benton, Wilmington, Delaware, circa 1865-70
Estimate
30,00050,000
LOT SOLD. 35,000 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Important Americana

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New York

American silver, silver-gilt, gold, and enamel model of a steam locomotive and coal tender, John Dean Benton, Wilmington, Delaware, circa 1865-70
realistically modeled in silver with gold accents, enameled wheels, matching coal car with enameled flags and coal, silver and gold accessories including shovels and buckets, mounted on silver rails on burlwood base with ebonized edges, plate glass cover
signed on each side above wheels Made by Dean Benton Wiln Del
length of locomotive and tender 25 1/2 in.; length overall 30 3/4 in.
64.8, 78 cm
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Catalogue Note

John Dean Benton (1824-1890) is listed in directories as a silversmith and jeweler between 1847 and 1885.  A prolific model maker specializing mainly in ships and locomotives, he was well-known in his day, and his models became small-scale emblems of far-flung empires of railroads and steamship lines.  

Benton is first recorded as working in Providence, R.I. before the Civil War, then with the Quartermaster's Department in Washington in 1862.  He was established in Wilmington, Delaware, between 1864 and 1870, when two of his biggest patrons were railroad magnates Cornelius Vanderbilt and Charles Morgan.  Tiffany & Co. also placed orders with Benton, showing two of his steamship models at the 1867 Exposition Universelle in Paris. In 1869, a model locomotive was presented to Matthew Baird of the Baldwin Locomotive works.

After being listed briefly again in Providence in 1872, Benton settled in Philadelphia between 1874 and 1877 before finally returning to Rhode Island.  His 62-inch high scale model of Independence Hall was shown at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876 (sold Sotheby's, New York, January 21, 2011, lot 147), as was a Benton model of a Pullman Palace Car (Miniature Railroad & Village).

The initials on the coal car associate this piece with the Pennsylvania, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad, and Benton's Wilmington signature to circa 1864-1873.  It may have been a gift to the PW&B's outgoing president in 1865, Samuel Morse Felton, or to his incoming successor, Isaac Hinckley.  Alternately, it may have commemorated the completion in November 1866 of the PW&B's Susquehanna River bridge, finally establishing a continuous rail connection between Philadelphia and Baltimore.

Important Americana

|
New York