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Tea and coffee service

Object Name: Coffee and tea service
Date: 1853
Related People:
Medium: Silver
Dimensions: see individual records
Place made: New York
Description: Wrought Victorian rococo silver coffee and tea service consisting of a coffeepot, teapot, tray, sugar bowl with lid, creamer and waste bowl; six-sided inverted pear-shaped bodies on molded six-sided scalloped feet; long upper bodies flare slightly, to scalloped rims with cast-applied c-scrolls and six decorative cast pendants at each drop; chased and repousséd floral, scroll and acanthus decoration divides the six sides and runs along the first curves of the lower bodies; engraved cartouches in each section filled with diamond patterns on the sides and reserves with the initials, "Z M" in gothic script on the fronts; feet decorated with chased and repousséd floral and scroll decoration; round lids, flat at the edges, raised to flat domes in the center; domes engraved with six empty cartouches; cast floral finials; scroll handles; maker's marks on the bases.
Credit Line: Gift of Dr. Adelaide Mills
Object Number: 1932.87a-g
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Marks: engraved: in front cartouches: "Z M" stamped: on bases: "W. ADAMS" in a barbed rectangle over "NEW-YORK" in a barbed rectangle stamped: on base of waste bowl: "J. H. JOHNSTON/ STERLING"

Gallery Label:

This tea and coffee service was presented to Zophar Mills upon his retirement as President of the New York City Fire Department. Mills was a celebrated firefighter whose company was credited with halting the Great Fire of 1835 at Wall Street, preventing destruction of the northern part of the city. Most of the pieces in this service appear to be off-the-shelf forms, personalized with Mills's engraved initials. The tray, however, is engraved with vignettes and allegorical scenes that relate to Mills's career and achievements.


Zophar Mills (1809-1887), who married Eliza Phillips (ca. 1815-1902); to their daughter Dr. Adelaide Mills (b. 1852), the donor.


"Stories in Sterling: Four Centuries of Silver in New York," New-York Historical Society, May 4–September 23, 2012.