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Tea Set or Tete-a-tete

Not on view

Tea Set or Tete-a-tete

Maker: James W. Tufts (active Boston, Massachusetts, 1875-1915)

Date: c. 1885
Medium: Silver plate
.1 Teapot: 4-1/2 x 5-1/2 x 3-5/8in.
.2 Creamer: 3 x 4-1/8 x 3 in.
.3 Sugar bowl with lid: 3-3/4 x 5-1/8 x 3-3/8 in.
Markings: Stamped on underside of each pitcher: "JAMES W. TUFTS/ BOSTON/ WARRANTED/ QUADRUPLE PLATE/ 1900"
Credit Line: 75th Anniversary Acquisition. Gift of Robert Tuggle in Honor of Anna Tobin D'Ambrosio
Object number: 2011.25.1-3
Label Text
Some Museum objects can relate innumerable stories—from the history of design to food ways, technology, and popular culture. This exceptionally fashionable silver set can represent all that, and more.

The Museum’s tea set is the product of a silver plate firm with an unusual history. Founder James W. Tufts apprenticed as an apothecary, eventually opening his own chain of five apothecary stores in Massachusetts, perhaps making him the first drug store chain owner in the United States. Tufts developed several related entrepreneurial ventures on the side, including selling lozenges and soda syrups, and he experimented with chewing gum production. At age 27 he developed and began manufacturing the successful Arctic Soda Fountains, an apparatus that dispensed soda water for carbonated and flavored beverages sold at counters within the apothecary. The soda fountain included numerous silver-plated parts, so Tufts began his own plated ware manufactory, which also produced high-style domestic silver, such as this tea service.