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  • American Skippet
    American Skippet
  • General Josiah Harmar
    General Josiah Harmar
  • Appeal to the Great Spirit
    Appeal to the Great Spirit
  • Hong Punch Bowl
    Hong Punch Bowl
  • Barter for a Bride
    Barter for a Bride
  • Artist/MakerSyng, Jr., Philip (1703-1789 & working 1726-1772)
  • Date Madec.1760
  • Place MadeUSA: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
  • MaterialsMetals; Silver
  • Measurements1 3/16 x 8 15/16 in.; Weight: 13 oz. 1 dwt.
  • Funds donated by Dr. and Mrs. Raymond Sphire in honor of the Bicentennial of the Signing of the Constitution
  • RoomThe John Quincy Adams State Drawing Room
  • Accession #1974.0020

American Silver Salver

The salver was introduced in the seventeenth century as a small, circular tray on a high trumpet foot, and was used for passing a beverage cup or for serving a special delicacy.  The terms salver, server, and waiter seem to have been interchangeable during the eighteenth century: stand was used to refer to a small tray made to go beneath a matching vessel, such as a teapot or tureen; the word tray is modern.
Most American salvers in the rococo style are notable for the stiff regularity of their shell-and-scroll rims. Here, however, Philip Syng has expressed the asymmetry and fanciful spirit of the high-style Philadelphia rococo remarkably well, with a looser, more imaginative handling of the scrolls and a swirled, lively shell motif. The rim was cast in six identical sections, each centered with a shell. The joints of the sections are visible at several points around the edge in the middle of the longest C-scroll segments. The grooved, asymmetrical feet are unusual and lack evidence of wear, suggesting that they may be replacements.
The initials “HP" are engraved on the underside of the salver, but the original owner of the object remains unidentified. Evidence of buffing on the upper surface of the salver suggests that it was originally engraved either with the crest or the coat of arms of the owner. The maker’s mark, “PS” in block letters within a square reserve, is struck four times around the center of the bottom, alternating with four leaf-shaped marks.
Philip Syng, Jr., was born in Ireland and emigrated with his family in 1714. He and his brother John (1705–1738) served their apprenticeships under their father, Philip Syng, Sr. (1676¬–1739). Philip, Jr., rapidly became a successful businessman and prominent civic leader. He was a founding member of the Library Company of Philadelphia and one of the original members of Franklin's Junto, a debating club that evolved into the American Philosophical Society. He was also Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania Masons, a vestryman of Christ Church (Episcopal), a warden and later treasurer of the city of Philadelphia, and a trustee of the College and Academy of Philadelphia. Syng's house and shop were located for many years on Front Street. He married Elizabeth Warner in 1726; the couple had twenty-one children. He and his wife retired to a farm outside Philadelphia in 1778, but returned to the city in 1785.[1]
Jennifer F.Goldsborough & Barbara McLean Ward
1.  Philadelphia:  Three Centuries, 19, 30