On February 4, 1774 the surviving son of Martha Washington -- John "Jacky" Parke Custis -- married Eleanor Calvert, uniting two of the most well connected and wealthy families in colonial America. Although young (nineteen and sixteen respectively), the couple recognized the importance of surrounding themselves with fine goods that spoke of their fortune, taste, and gentility. They soon assembled an impressive array of silver hollow and flatware imported from England which included this candlestick. One of four in the Mount Vernon collection, it was originally part of a set of six that would have graced Jacky's dinner table.
Candlestick and removable bobeche. Die-stamped square base rising into a cove-molded square plinth edged in a veined acanthus leaf border. Each side features a rams head mask, from its horns extend swags of laurel leaves and from its mouth hangs a beribboned cartouche containing the Custis crest. The following rise is decorated with a boss-flower; it supports the fluted pillar accented with a Greek-key cuff at the middle and four hoofed legs, one situated at each of the four corners; the legs terminate at ram's head masks overlaid onto a Greek-key border supporting a graduated stem attached to a fluted candle cup skirted with a Greek-key band. The body and base weighted with a resin-like substance and is capped with a wooden base screwed into a resin fill.
Associated with the candlestick is a fitted bobeche. The two pieces were not originally intended to be paired as indicated by different sets of chisel marks, five on the inner lip of the candlestick and six on the bottom rim of the bobeche sleeve. The bobeche features a die-stamped bezel decorated with an acanthus leaf border and an engraving of the Custis crest; soldered to the bezel is a stamped and curved sleeve that fits into the candle socket.
Silver, iron, wood, resin
Overall (candlestick): 11 5/8 in. x 5 in. (29.54 cm x 12.7 cm)
Other (bobeche): 1 5/16 in. x 2 3/8 in. (3.33 cm x 6.05 cm)
Gift of Mary Lee Bowman and Robert E. Lee IV, 1981
Conservation courtesy of the Life Guard Society of Historic Mount Vernon
Engraved eagle head on bezel of bobeche, denoting the front of the piece.
John Winter & Co. makers mark stamped on seam of sleeve of bobeche: "(unintelligible)o".
John Carter's makers mark stamped on the proper left of bobeche sleeve: "I.C".
Lion passant in a shield denoting the sterling standard hallmark stamped on proper right of bobeche sleeve.
Six chisel marks at the foot of the sleeve of the bobeche.
Engraved eagle head on beribboned shield, denoting the front of the piece.
John Carter's makers mark stamped on reverse of base: "I.C".
Lion passant in a shield denoting the sterling standard hallmark stamped on reverse of base.
Crowned leopard head in shield denoting its assay in London stamped on reverse of base.
Date letter in shield denoting the year 1774-1775 on reverse of base: "T".
Five chisel marks on the interior lip of the candle socket.
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