Richard Humphreys Silver Sugar Bowl, Philadelphia, ca. 1775

Value (2009) | $10,000 Auction

This sugar bowl I purchased in a consignment shop in a suburb of Philadelphia. The price was $225. The shop operator was friends with the woman who consigned the piece, and it was from a famous family in Philadelphia, the Morris family. Their home was in Germantown, Pennsylvania. And when the yellow fever epidemic hit Philadelphia in the 18th century, George Washington stayed at that house to get out of the city and away from the disease.

Now, when did you buy this?

I purchased it in the mid-1970s. It was rather expensive for me at that time.

This sugar bowl was made by Richard Humphreys. It has his beautiful stamped mark on the bottom. And Humphreys was a very good silversmith in Philadelphia. He was actually born in the West Indies in 1749, and he moved to Philadelphia sometime probably in the early 1770s. It's very interesting to have such a beautiful sugar bowl. The beautiful embossed and chased repoussé decoration of the flowers and the swags is something that you don't find on all silver from this period. It probably dates in the 1770s. And it also is in wonderful condition. You notice that it's a little dented here, and the cover really doesn't fit on exactly. One thing that I might recommend doing would be to have it straightened, because that's all it really needs. One of the wonderful features is this original pin where the finial was put on and then hand-hammered down. I truly think that it's one of the best pieces of silver I've ever seen on the Antiques Roadshow. It was made for the Morris family, as you said, a very famous family. There were many different branches of the Morris family, so it will take a lot of research to figure out exactly what branch it was made for. Now, you paid $225 for it 30-some years ago. What do you think it's worth today?

If I had to guess, I would say in the $2,500 to $3,000 range.

Because of the decoration on this piece, I feel that it's worth more than an average piece of Philadelphia silver. There was another Humphreys sugar bowl sold recently for around $7,000. But I honestly feel that this one, conservatively, at auction is worth $10,000 because it's such a wonderful piece of silver.

Wow. That's wonderful.

I'm very surprised and happy about it. Thank you.

Appraisal Details

Northeast Auctions
Portsmouth, NH
Appraised value (2009)
$10,000 Auction
Atlantic City, NJ (June 06, 2009)

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