The McKeon Vase
Designed by Robert Ball Hughes
James Thomson, New York, NY, 1837
Image courtesy of Spencer Marks, Ltd.
Click on image to enlarge
The McKeon Vase: Monumental American Silver Covered Presentation Vase was designed by Sculptor Robert Ball Hughes in New York in 1837. It was
presented to John McKeon (1808-1883) for his public service to the City of New
On Saturday February 10, 1838, The New York Evening Post recorded the presentation to McKeon and noted:
Source: New York NY Evening Post 1837 Sep-Mar 1838 Grayscale - 0496.pdf, column 6, at Old Fulton Post Cards newspapers archives.
This monumental piece is marked under the finial 'Jas. Thomson', 'NEW YORK' and '1837'. It measures 24 inches high and weighs 311 troy ounces. It is in excellent antique condition except for some restoration to the foot.
It appears that the vase was sold by Christies in May 2010 for $25,000. See the description of Sale 2373 / Lot 216 at A MONUMENTAL AMERICAN SILVER PRESENTATION CUP AND COVER. Christies refers to it as a presentation cup and cover, in urn form. It was sold again by Spencer Marks, Ltd. in early 2011.
Spencer Marks, Ltd. reports
a Native American bearing the gift of corn and holding an American shield
Note that this vase was modeled in 1837, before Ball Hughes modified the design of the Seated Liberty in 1839. He would have been familiar with the Seated Liberty design by Christian Gobrecht that appeared on American coins starting in 1836.
See also the Silver and Goldsmiths page on this site for more about Ball Hughes work with silver and gold.
The full review of the McKeon Vase is available at The McKeon Vase: Monumental American Silver Covered Presentation Vase by Spencer Marks, Ltd.
last update 5/26/2011
For noncommercial use, Copyright David E. Brown 2008-2011