- Artist/MakerWoodcock, Bancroft (1732 - 1817 & working 1754-1794)
- Date Madec.1775
- Place MadeUSA: Delaware, Wilmington
- MaterialsMetals; silver
- Measurements13 1/16 x 9 7/8 x 4 5/16 (dia. foot) in.; Weight: 38 oz. 17 dwt.
- Gift of Alice Harrison Warwick, Virginia Henley Ameche, and John Edward Warwick in memory of their mother, Alice Harrison-Smith Warwick.
- RoomThe John Quincy Adams State Drawing Room
- Accession #1966.0097.2
Bancroft Woodcock was born on July 18, 1732, the son of Irish Quaker immigrants, Robert and Rachel (Bancroft) Woodcock, who settled in Wilmington, Delaware, shortly after 1726. His master is not known, but his style suggests that he learned his craft in Philadelphia. He opened his business in Wilmington “near the upper Market house” on July 4, 1754. In 1759 he married Ruth Andrews, and during his early career he was active in the Society of Friends. He trained at least five apprentices, four of whom were Quakers: Richard Humphreys, William Poole, his newphew, Thomas Byrnes, and his son, Isaac Woodcock. In 1790 he advertised for his runaway apprentice, Elijah Wansey, whom he described as a mulatto. Woodcock became a prosperous craftsman and landowner. For most of his life he worked alone, but in 1790 he formed a brief partnership with Thomas Byrnes, which dissolved by 1793. Woodcock maintained his prosperous shop in Wilmington until 1794, when he retired to his farm in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.
Woodcock’s extant work includes at least two other coffeepots of this type and numerous sugar urns, sugar bowls, and cream pots. The proportions of this coffeepot are particularly fine—it is more elegant than earlier pear- and inverted-pear-shaped coffeepots, but it lacks the exaggerated attenuation of slightly later neoclassical examples. The engraved rococo cartouche and plain, rather than gadrooned, edge of the foot and cover suggest that the pot was made immediately before the Revolution rather than afterward.
Masterfully designed, Woodcock’s silver embodies the high quality, simplicity, balance, and poise found in the best work of his Philadelphia peers. The delicate engraving, swirled bell-shaped finial, and the design of the cast spout on this coffeepot are almost identical to details of contemporary coffeepots by Joseph Richardson, Sr., Joseph, Jr., Nathaniel Richardson, and Woodcock’s former apprentice, Richard Humphreys.
Treasures of State
Jennifer F. Goldsborough & Barbara McLean Ward
1. Warren 1976, n.p.; Hindes, 302–4; Prime 1929, 1:98.
2. These two coffeepots are illustrated in Warren 1976, nos. 25, 26.
3. Woodcock made pieces to fill out tea and coffee services by the Richardsons; see Warren 1976, fig. 4 and nos. 11, 13. The Department of State’s coffeepot appears as no. 24 in the Warren catalogue. The initials engraved on the side of the pot are there identified as “TMR,” but are now interpreted as “MR.” Humphreys made a very similar coffeepot with nearly identical finial and spout, now at Historic Deerfield (see Flynt and Fales,