A. Ian Fraser, Coral Springs, Florida; given to the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 2010 (2010.113).
An Everyday Object
“Many of the women engaged in business in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries were involved in the silver trade” .
“Tankards—large cylindrical drinking vessels with hinged covers, hollow scroll handles and capacities ranging from a pint to a quart—were one of the most common forms made in silver throughout most of the 18th century. The tankard was a communal drinking vessel in domestic use for serving the everyday household beverages of ale, beer, and cider. Unlike 19th-and 20th-century ceramic beer steins, which resemble tankards but which have become associated with men, tankards were frequently gifts to women upon marriage or following childbirth” (31-32).
“There are two categories of women silversmiths: the widows of silversmiths and actual female artisans. The latter are more interesting to [former IMA curator Ian] Fraser due to the fact that the pieces were actually made by women and thus are rarer. “It’s easy to collect something that there’s a lot of, it’s not so easy to collect work by women silversmiths as there is less of it available.” Fraser also attributes the lack of objects available to the fact that silver can be easily damaged or overcleaned, ruining the patina; and the age-old practice of melting down objects due to the value of the silver.”