Helmet-Shaped Creamer with the Seal of the United States and the Motto “DONT GIVE UP THE SHIP,” about 1813–15
Chinese, for the American Market
Porcelain, partially painted and gilded
5 1/4 in. high (to top of handle)
This helmet-shaped creamer appears to be unique within the considerable range of decoration seen on Chinese Export Porcelain made for the American market. The principal decorative motif, placed under the spout, is the Seal of the United States, which does appear, in several variations, on other pieces of Chinese Export Porcelain. But this piece is extremely unusual because, in addition to a banner with the text “e pluribus unum” across the eagle’s wings, it has, in a semi-circular banner above the eagle, the saying “dont give up the ship.” This is said to have been uttered by Captain James Lawrence (1781–1813) on June 1, 1813, aboard his USS Chesapeake, which was engaged in a battle with the British HMS Shannon.
Lawrence’s dying words are otherwise unknown within the range of decoration on American-market Chinese Export Porcelain except for a banner held by a sailor in a vignette under the spout of a cider jug, otherwise decorated with the frigate United States capturing the frigate Macedonian on October 25, 1812, on one side, and the United States brig Enterprise capturing the H.B.M. brig Boxer on September 4, 1813, on the other side (see Mudge, Jean McClure. Chinese Export Porcelain for the American Trade, 1785-1835 [East Brunswick, New Jersey: Associated University Presses, Inc., 1981], pp. 171, 172 figs. 100a–c).
The creamer was once owned by Joseph Y. Jeanes (1859–1928), who was the son of Isaac Jeanes and Caroline Margaretta Kohler. He lived variously on Arch Street, Philadelphia, and at a large Colonial Revival house in Villanova, Pennsylvania. Surviving records of his eclectic activity as a collector reveal interests in such diverse areas as Audubon drawings, Houdon sculpture, and Chinese Export Porcelain.