This creamer, blown and tooled of light blue lead glass, with a large hollow knop in the stem enclosing an American copper one cent coin dated 1794, is one of the earliest American pieces acquired in several years. The coin shows substantial wear so it had been in circulation when the creamer was made, perhaps in 1804 or 1814. The creamer was given to Frank W. Hill by his grandmother, Abigail Ware Foote (b.1819) on January 16, 1860. According to family tradition, it was believed to have been made in the Philadelphia area and was originally a birthday present for Hill’s great-grandmother Abigail Whitaker Ware (1781-1865) or her mother, Ruth Whitaker. The fact that it remained in the same family from the time it was made until 2012 is remarkable. Because the blue creamer has been in the same family since it was made, and we know the area from which it comes, it is an important addition to the collection. In the period in which the creamer was made, there were only two tableware glasshouses in the east, one in South Boston and another in Cambridge. Thus, pieces made elsewhere, like this one, are individual creations and have rarely survived.
The name of the glassblower who created the work is not known, but it was skillfully made. It is possible that the glassblower worked for the Kensington glass works which was in operation from 1797 through the mid-19th century in Philadelphia. It is the most likely source, since they did advertise “flint glass”, a term commonly used to describe lead glass. Kensington made a variety of products during its long history, and was one of the most important Philadelphia glasshouses. Based on the date of the coin, it may also have been made at John Nicholson’s glasshouse on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia, which was founded in 1794.
The creamer is very similar in shape to another creamer in the collection, (82.4.11) which has in the knop a Spanish coin dated 1781. It is possible that both creamers were made at the same glasshouse. Also similar in shape is 50.4. 57.