While many items in the Society’s collections were donated, some items have to be purchased. This was the case with Caesar Rodney’s silver coffeepot. In 1950 the Society purchased the coffeepot from Anna-Maria Brix for $2000. Ms. Brix had previously loaned the coffeepot to the Society in 1948, but in 1950 she allowed the Society to purchase the coffeepot.
The coffeepot was made by Stephen Reeves. Stephen Reeves worked as a silversmith throughout the Mid-Atlantic, but had a shop in Philadelphia from 1766-1774. The silver Rococo-style coffeepot featured a carved double scroll fruitwood handle, circular foot, and a spout stylized with a leaf motif. The hinged lid had a dome shape, and the piece is engraved with a “CR” in script on the side. Stephen Reeves mark, “SR,” is imprinted twice in small rectangles.
The provenance of the coffeepot can be traced back to a 1784 inventory of Caesar Rodney’s estate. It listed the coffeepot as being among his possessions. In 1919, the coffeepot was sold at the Stan V. Henkel’s auction in Philadelphia which sold Rodney family manuscripts and other items. The coffeepot was purchased by Philadelphia collector Maurice Brix.
The Historical Society of Delaware, in the pursuit of collection and preservation, felt it necessary to purchase the coffeepot that belonged to such an important figure in Delaware’s history. In fact, Caesar Rodney’s silver coffeepot was the only object purchased, not donated, in 1950 by the Historical Society.