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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/MakerRevere II, Paul (1734-1818)
  • Date Made1787
  • Place MadeUSA: Massachusetts, Boston
  • MaterialsMetals; Silver
  • Measurements4 11/16 x 6 1/8 x 4 9/16 in.; 9 oz.
  • Funds donated by Miss Louise I.  Doyle
  • RoomThe John Quincy Adams State Drawing Room
  • Accession #1991.0036

Sugar basket

This sugar basket was originally owned by the prominent Jewish merchant Moses Michael Hays of Boston and is one of more than twenty-five pieces of silver that Hays ordered from fellow Mason Paul Revere.[1]  The order for this basket is listed in Revere’s daybook under the date December 6, 1787.  Hays received a credit for 47 ounces of silver and Revere recorded the purchase as a “Silver Sugar basket” weighing 9 ounces.  He charged Hays ₤3.3s. for the silver and ₤3 for fashioning.[2]

The basket displays many elements typical of the neoclassical style, with its boat shape, beaded rim and base, and floral bright-cut engraving.  The form of this basket is simpler and more restrained than the basket with rayed flutes originally owned by Edward Tuckerman and his wife Elizabeth (Harris) Tuckerman that Revere made about 1798 (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston).  Other sugar baskets by Revere include a fluted and engraved basket made for Jonathan Hunnewell (Metropolitan Museum of Art) and a plain example (Cleveland Museum of Art).[3]  Judging from surviving pieces, Revere more often fashioned sugar bowls in an urn form with high concave covers.
Its plain surface suggests that the State Department basket may have been made to be used with the drum-shaped teapot, also engraved MRH, which Revere made for Hays and his wife, Rachel Myers Hays, about 1783.[4]  The basket also bears the full-name “Hays” engraved in script, and it descended in the family.[5]   
Barbara McLean Ward
1. Barquist 2001, 129; Falino, 169–70.
2. Revere Daybook, 2:65, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston. (photostat in the possession of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston).
3. Buhler 1972, 463–64.
4. Jane Bortman, “Moses Hays and His Revere Silver,” Antiques 66, no. 4 (October 1954): 304–5.
5. The sugar basket was acquired through a partial purchase from a descendant of the original owner and through the gift of a one-third interest in the object from the Talley family.