Chocolate: History, Culture, and Heritage.

A pair of silver chocolate pots with ovoid shaped body, small spout and wooden handle, the body, lid and spreading foot with reeded band, the lid with wooden and silver finial. Hallmarked, Birmingham 1909.

Chapter 11

Author: Gerald Ward

Title: Silver Chocolate Pots of Colonial Boston.

Despite their low numbers, the Boston silver chocolate pots—especially the six made before
1720 by John Coney, Edward Winslow, Edward Webb, and Peter Oliver—provide a glimpse of life in Boston during a period of florescence in the decorative arts. Extraordinarily stylish and costly, the pots were faddish in their response to a new custom. Used in the process of consuming a luxurious beverage in a custom that migrated from Catholic Spain and southern Europe, silver chocolate pots seem almost antithetical in Protestant Boston, yet their existence--when taken into account with other stylish forms of silver, furniture, and architecture---is a small slice of material evidence of the changes, ultimately dramatic in their extent, that were moving Boston from its origins as a Puritan enclave in the seventeenth century to its place as a cosmopolitan, sophisticated, commercial colonial city in the very earliest years of the eighteenth century. This essay examines from a variety of viewpoints the rare surviving group of silver chocolate pots made in late seventeenth and early eighteenth-century Boston by Coney, Winslow, Oliver, and Webb, as well as two later examples by Zachariah Brigden. The overriding goals were to examine this body of objects from an art historical point of view, looking at their stylistic sources and success as objects, but also as documents of the novel practice of drinking chocolate amongst Boston's socio-economic elite at that time. I attempt to link this custom to an efflorescence in Boston's architectural, material, and cultural life that occurred due to an influx of royal officials and administrators starting in the early 1690s, bringing with them a taste for new building types, furniture forms, and silver objects, such as the related group of ten Boston silver sugar boxes, in addition to the chocolate.

Bernard Rice's Sons, Inc. NY 1867-1950 silver plated chocolate pot with ivory handles

Chapter 12

Author: Suzanne Perkins

Title: Is It a Chocolate Pot?
Chocolate and Its Accoutrements in France from Cookbook to Collectible.

The introduction of chocolate and its diffusion, primarily as a beverage, in royal and aristocratic circles, was accompanied by the development of the chocolatiere, or chocolate pot. Often made of silver and porcelain, the chocolatiere became a specialized item to facilitate the stirring, frothing, and serving of hot chocolate in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The chocolatiere bears similarities to a coffee pot but it is marked by a hole in its unattached cover [couvercle], or hinged lid, into which a wooden stirrer [Spanish: molinillo, French: moussoir or moulinet] is inserted to stir and froth the hot chocolate in the pot below.

The Spaniards introduced the molinillo, which they twirled with two hands and they added the closed top, through which the stirrer was inserted. The French are generally said to have introduced the chocolatiere, defined as having a handle placed at a right angle to the spout and unscrewing clockwise so that it would remain tight while pouring from the spout in a counterclockwise direction. A hinged lid at the top had the hole through which the moussoir was inserted. Chocolatieres appear to have been first mentioned in France in 1671 in a letter of the Marquise de Sevigne. Silver chocolatieres can be dated to 1685 in England and it may be assumed that they existed before in France, as a gift of them was made to the French king in 1686. Reference was made to "porcelain" chocolatieres in 1689 in France but this is almost certainly soft-paste porcelain, as the finer hard-paste is developed only in the mid-18th century. In the second half of the 18th century, the Sevres manufactory produced porcelain to order for the royal family and porcelain chocolatieres joined those in silver as high prestige items. The introduction of more mechanized ways of making chocolate beverages in the mid-19th century rendered chocolatieres obsolete. In the 20th century, the chocolatiere assumed a second life as an object of historical interest and as a collectible. Identifying chocolatieres can be difficult. While most silver and some porcelain chocolatieres have holes in their covers, most ceramic chocolatieres do not. Not all chocolatieres have a handle placed at a right angle to the spout. Museum records sometimes identify objects as chocolate-related, which may not have the stirrer, the handle, or other attributes often specific to them. By the late 18th century, the Sevres porcelain manufactory was producing chocolatieres for French royalty and aristocrats, including Madame de Pompadour. Developments in processing, which improved chocolate suspension in liquids, and changing fashions in the 19th century decreased usage of chocolatieres but interest in them as collectibles intensified in the late 20th century.

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