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Punch bowl with ringed foot, rice bowl shape. Blue and gilt diaper border on foot, and on rim "spear" edge, inside and out. A golden ring surrounds a mantle which drapes above a shield initialed "HGO". This motif is repeated on opposite side of bowl and inside on bottom; red and gold floral design.
Trade with China reached its height of popularity in the eighteenth century. Before this time, Chinese porcelain was rare in the West, often only in the possession of kings and emperors. In 1784, the Empress of China became the first American vessel to travel to China. Specially ordered armorial porcelain, or porcelain painted with initials on a gilt-trimmed shield meant to mimic armorial porcelain, was a popular export. This punch bowl was owned by Harrison Gray Otis; "HGO" is visible in the center of the bowl. This bowl was kept in a hall niche in the Otis's third home on Beacon Street, and according to family stories, was much used. Otis's great-nephew, the historian Samuel Eliot Morison, wrote "
It is safe to stay that the punch-bowl on the stairs prevented the male members of the family from becoming thirsty during the afternoon
". The punch bowl is now on display at the Otis House in Boston, Massachusetts.
6 1/2 (H), 15 3/8 (diameter) (inches)
Gift of Mrs. H. Brooks Beck