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Object Name: Pitcher
Date: 1818
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Medium: Silver
Dimensions: Overall: 11 1/8 × 5 1/2 × 4 7/8 in., 42 oz (troy) 17.1 dwt (28.3 × 14 × 12.4 cm, 1333 g)
Place made: North America, United States, New York
Description: One of a pair of wrought silver presentation pitchers; ovoid-shaped bodies with large chased ovoid flutes; each on an oval foot with molded footrings; applied oval necks with short, broad pouring lips, low on the sides; molded bands applied around the rims; cast double-scroll handles applied to the back of each; circular engraving on the front of each of Liberty freeing the Slaves, she holds a liberty pole topped by a liberty cap and is removing shackles from the arms of two slaves, a freed slave reading and Joseph Curtis raising a mirror to reflect the the rays of the sun rising over mountains in the background; engraved below the vignettes, "Act. March 1817/ Manumission Society of New York/ Joseph Curtis" in roman letters and script; maker's marks stamped on the base.
Credit Line: Gift of Clive Mecklem
Object Number: 1928.23a
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Marks: Engraved below vignette: "Act. March 1817 / Manumission Society of New York / Joseph Curtis" in roman letters and script; stamped on base: "J. Sayre" in script in conforming rectangles, twice

Gallery Label:

Engraved beneath the spout of each of these pitchers is a powerful scene representing the Goddess of Liberty freeing young slaves from their shackles. The pitchers were presented by the New York Manumission Society to Joseph Reuben Curtis (1782-1856) in 1818 as a testimonial to his tireless efforts in persuading the state legislature to pass an act mandating the end of slavery in New York. Curtis had a long and productive philanthropic career dedicated to emancipation and education. He cited his work securing passage of the Manumission Act in 1817 as one of the happiest events of his life.


Joseph Reuben Curtis (1782-1856), who married Dorothy Hopkins (1778-1858); to their daughter Ella Maria Curtis (1816-1893), who married Lewis Gaylord Clark (1808-1873); to their daughter Mary Dakin Clark (1838-1916), who married George Green Mecklem (1834-ca. 1913); to their son Clive Mecklem (1865-1928), the donor.


Glimmers of the Past: Presentation Silver from the Collection of The New-York Historical Society; New-York Historical Society, September 2–December 5, 1999.

"Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America," New-York Historical Society, August 28, 2004–February 28, 2005.

"Slavery in New York," New-York Historical Society, October 17, 2005–March 5, 2006.

"Stories in Sterling: Four Centuries of Silver in New York," New-York Historical Society, May 4–September 23, 2012; Flagler Museum, Palm Beach, FL, January 28–April 20, 2014.