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Hood Museum of Art
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH 03755

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Thomas Dane, American, 1726-about 1795

Chafing Dish
About 1750-55
Silver, wood
Gift of Louise C. and Frank L. Harrington, Class of 1924; M.970.68


Silver chafing dishes, or braziers, were used to keep food hot by means of a bed of coals contained in the bottom well, and they were often made in pairs. They enjoyed popularity for only a relatively brief period in the first half of the eighteenth century. The elaborate piercings that allowed the heat to escape also serve as design elements in these exceptionally ornate pieces. In this example, the piercings include heart, scroll, and checkerboard patterns. Later in the century, dish rings and dish crosses supplanted the chafing dish. Thomas Dane was originally from Ipswich and moved to Boston about 1754. Little is known of his training or that of his younger brother, James, who was also a goldsmith. Dane’s career lasted just over a decade, and only a dozen pieces marked by him are known to have survived. The diversity of forms he produced and the quality of his workmanship suggest, however, that he was a craftsman of significant talent. Among his known works are candlesticks, canns (bulbous mugs), a sugar bowl, a snuffbox, a creampot, and a tankard.

Last Updated: 4/29/09