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Hood Museum of Art
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH 03755

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Samuel Casey, American, about 1724-about 1780

About 1755
Gift of Louise C. Harrington in honor of Frank L. Harrington, Class of 1924; M.989.30


Little Rest, known as Kingston since 1825, was the second center for silversmithing to develop in Rhode Island, and there Samuel Casey was the most prominent silversmith of his day. Despite his apparent success in attracting patrons, Casey eventually yielded to what was likely a temptation for many silversmiths—counterfeiting silver coinage. In 1770 he was arrested for counterfeiting Portuguese and Spanish coins and sentenced to hang. The night before his scheduled execution, a band of supporters broke into the jail and freed Casey, who swiftly fled the colony. He never returned to his home and his activities following his imprisonment are unknown. Casey’s talents as a legitimate silversmith were beyond question, as evidenced by this graceful teapot. Probably dating from around 1755, this teapot is of the inverted pear form that epitomizes the mid-eighteenth-century preference for curvaceous top-heavy or asymmetrical designs and naturalistic ornamentation in the rococo manner. The ordered engraving surrounding the domed lid, featuring strapwork and grotesque masks, is more typical of earlier teapots, notably those made by Boston silversmith Jacob Hurd. Although some scholars have speculated that Casey apprenticed under Hurd, no documentary evidence links the two silversmiths.

Last Updated: 4/29/09