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Hood Museum of Art
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH 03755
603.646.2808
hood.museum@dartmouth.edu

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Benjamin Burt, American, 1729-1805

Tankard
1760
Silver
Gift of Louise C. and Frank L. Harrington, Class of 1924; M.968.40

 

Tankards continued to serve as popular drinking vessels for household and ceremonial use until the end of the eighteenth century, gradually evolving from a squat, flat-topped form to the more slender, vertical proportions seen in this example by Benjamin Burt. This elegant tankard has a domed top crowned with a twisted flame finial, and tapering sides strengthened by the addition of a midband. The flame finial is considered a rococo feature and echoes the finials that surmount large case furniture of the same period. By the end of the eighteenth century, more swollen domed lids would give this form even greater verticality before tankards became outmoded. This tankard belonged to Isaac and Elizabeth (Day) Dodge, who were married in 1755 and whose initials appear on the handle. Benjamin Burt produced silver of high quality and was active in political and civic affairs. After the death of his silversmith father, John Burt, in 1746, Benjamin Burt completed his apprenticeship under his brothers Samuel and William. Highly regarded as a craftsman, he also participated in town affairs, serving on various committees. He evidently earned the admiration of his peers as well, as he led the goldsmiths and jewelers who participated in the procession honoring George Washington’s visit to Boston in 1789 and was asked to lead the goldsmiths in Washington’s memorial procession in 1800. Burt was described in one account as “a very large man—he weighed three hundred and eighty pounds . . . [He was] very pleasant, . . . well-respected and beloved.”

Last Updated: 6/9/09