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ca. 1831
Origin: America, Virginia, Norfolk
OH: 4 3/8"; OW (incl. handle): 4 3/4"; OD (at belly): 3 3/8"
Museum Purchase, The Antique Collectors' Guild in memory of Joseph H. Hennage and in memory of Edward B. Stvan
Acc. No. 2010-14,1
Baluster-shaped silver cann with an incised line around the everted rim, a double scroll handle with acanthus leaf grip and a forked scroll terminal, and a stepped, circular foot.
Label:Walter Pearce (ca. 1805-ca. 1872) was born in Newport, Rhode Island. He moved to Norfolk, Virginia, sometime prior to his June 1831 marriage to Sarah Ann Slack Clarico, widow of deceased goldsmith Joseph Clarico. Pearce briefly formed a partnership with James H. Spratley, which was dissolved by July 24, 1833. Pearce remained in Norfolk until at least the early 1840s, but by 1850 he and his family were residing in Mobile, Alabama. He is listed in census records as a Mobile silversmith/jeweller from 1850-1867.

Ella Waller Tazewell (1826-1885) was the youngest child of Littleton Waller Tazewell (1774-1860) and Ann Stratton Nivison (1785-1859). Her father was a lawyer and leading politician; he represented both James City County and Norfolk in the Virginia House of delegates (1804-1806, 1816-1817), was a US Congressman and Senator for Virginia (1800-1801, 1824-1832), and served as Governor of Virginia (1834-1836). Ella Tazewell apparently never married.

Although this cann was made circa 1831, it is fashioned in a style that was popular between 1765 and 1780. It was orginally one of a pair made by Pearce and engraved with Ella W. Tazewell's name. Pearce's mark has been found on several other silver forms which would have been old fashioned by the 1830s, including a porringer and another cann engraved for "John N. Tazewell" (1807-1869), brother to Ella W. Tazewell. Pearce also made the engraved plaque for the June 1839 cornerstone of the Avon Theater in Norfolk, of which John Nivison Tazewell was a trustee.

Rhode Island silversmith Walter Pearce moved to Norfolk, Virginia, by 1831 and soon married Sarah Clarico, widow of Norfolk goldsmith Joseph Clarico. It was not unusual for families to marry with their trade. Pearce was one of the thousands of northern artisans who immigrated to coastal southern cities in search of better opportunities during the Early National period. By 1850, he and his family relocated to Mobile, Alabama, where he carried on the business.

Although Pearce made this cann about 1831, it is in a style that was popular more than 50 years earlier. The reasons for his conservatism are unclear, but the cann was made and engraved for five-year-old Ella Waller Tazewell, daughter of Virginia Governor Littleton Waller Tazewell.

Provenance:This cann, originally one of a pair, was made for Ella Waller Tazewell (1826-1885) of Norfolk, Virginia. The other cann is now in the collections of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Mark(s):Marked on base in relief: "W. PEARCE/ VA/ NORFOLK" in a football-shaped reserve; also marked on base in relief: an eagle in a square reserve.
Inscription(s):Engraved in script on belly of body opposite handle "Ella W. Tazewell."