Casting Rituals: An Eoff and Shepard Cream Pot

This post is the third in a series featuring student papers from “Material Life in America,” a course taught by WPAMC director Dr. J. Ritchie Garrison. The papers address objects with connections to New York in the collection of the Winterthur Museum. Each student began by closely examining his or her object, and over the course of the semester situated the object in increasingly broad contexts of production and use. For many of the students, these projects were a first foray into the world of material culture and Winterthur’s collections, and yielded surprising and challenging results.

Cream Pot (Cream Jug). Edgar M. Eoff and George L. Shepard. New York, New York; about 1850-1861. Silver, ivory. Courtesy, Winterthur Museum, Bequest of James O’Hara Cazenove, 1972.306.004.

This paper addresses how a cream pot manufactured by Eoff and Shepard was involved in a system of decision-making, manufacturing, retailing, and use in the mid-to-late nineteenth century, when it was manufactured and likely purchased. Created and retailed in New York City, the cream pot was influenced by regional and international design trends and was sold by a retailer representing luxury in its warerooms. This paper focuses on how the object itself was implicated in performance not just through the ritual of its use, but also through its style and purchase at a time when warerooms were mediating desire and wealth. The cream pot, impacted by stylistic trends in America and beyond, modulated the demands of a fashionable and refined consumer. Buying and using the cream pot was a performance of taste, consumer discretion, and social ritual.

Read it here!: Casting Rituals: An Eoff and Shepard Cream Pot by Emily Pazar, WPAMC class of 2016

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