Pierced silver baskets for the table originated in England in the late sixteenth century. They remained fashionable among the English and American elite for the next century. Contemporary sources refer to them as "bread baskets," but they could hold cakes or fruits. This exuberant, rococo-styled basket is engraved with the arms of Admiral Edward Vernon, under whom George Washington's elder half-brother Lawrence served in the British navy and for whom he named Mount Vernon.


Shaped, pierced and engraved oval or elliptic basket with swing handle on four scroll feet, each cast and chased with a jester's mask flanked by scrolls, wheatears and bats-wing ornament. Flared rim with applied, cast border featuring grotesque masks, shells, scrolls and flowers. Melon-fluted sides pierced with foliate scrolls. Broken-scroll handle chased with grotesque bird-masks, shells, scrolls and foliage; the top of the center section is flat chased with a band of shells, scrolls and floral garlands. Interior of basket is engraved with scrolls, shells and foliage surrounding a coat-of-arms, comprised of those of Vernon impaling Best.

Alternate names for this form include: cake basket.








Overall: 3 3/8 in. x 13 1/2 in. x 11 5/8 in., 3.88 lb. (8.57 cm x 34.29 cm x 29.53 cm, 1.76 kg)
Overall (Height with handle raised): 9 15/16 in. (25.24 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert H. Smith, 2006


Marked on reverse. Engraved with scratchweight "63-1".

Object Number


Colors (Beta)

Mount Vernon's object research is ongoing and information about this object is subject to change. For information on image use and reproductions, click here.
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