Object of the Month

A porringer that belonged to a young JFK.

May 29, 2016 marks the 99th anniversary of the birth of John F. Kennedy in the house on Beals Street in Brookline, Massachusetts. This house was the first home owned by his parents Joseph P. Kennedy and Rose F. Kennedy. Very early in life, after his birth in a second floor bedroom at the house, John F. Kennedy received the silver porringer pictured here, perhaps as a christening gift. He likely used it during his time living in Brookline.

Porringers were a traditional, shallow bowl-like vessel for holding baby food or other similar foods, and date back to medieval times. Earlier forms often sported handles, commonly two for European models and one for colonial American versions - some of the most famous of which were made by Boston silversmith Paul Revere. Porringers without handles were a later development and tend to be found on bowls with more depth, such as this one.

A maker's mark impressed on the bottom of the porringer indicates that this piece was made by the Watrous Manufacturing Co. of Wallingford, Connecticut. First incorporated in 1896, the Watrous Mfg. Co. became part of the International Silver Co. in 1898, which is still in business and continued to use the Watrous mark well into the 20th century. A 1922 advertisement stated that the company offered "Sterling Silver Flatware, Cigarette Cases, Tableware, etc." under the Watrous mark.
 

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