Society of the Cincinnati Export Porcelain Tea Bowl and Saucer, China, c. 1786-90, the tea bowl and saucer decorated with polychrome and gilt Society of Cincinnati eagle emblem, small black and gilt floral sprays and a thin undulating gilt and black rim decoration, each with intertwined "SS" in gilt lettering, tea bowl ht. 2 1/4, dia. 4 5/16, saucer ht. 1 3/8, dia. 6 3/16 in.
Provenance: By family descent from Captain Samuel Shaw.
Note: The tea bowl and saucer were originally made for Captain Samuel Shaw (1754-1794). Shaw was commissioned second lieutenant in the Continental Artillery in 1775; was made captain in the 3rd Artillery in 1780 while serving as aide-de-camp to General Henry Knox 1779-1783. After the end of the American Revolution Shaw, was made an American diplomat in order to begin trade relations between the United States and China. He sailed to China on the Empress of China in 1784 and arranged to procure a set of Society of Cincinnati porcelain with blue Fitzhugh border decoration that was eventually purchased by George Washington.
In 1786 Shaw was appointed the United States' first consul to China and he again sailed to China with his gold Society of the Cincinnati eagle insignia and arranged for additional sets of Society porcelain to be produced with a more perfect likeness of the emblem. During either the 1786 or his next voyage in 1790, Shaw commissioned Society tea services for himself and less than ten other members of the Massachusetts branch of the Society. Each tea service originally consisted of about forty-five pieces.
The American Revolution Institute of the Society of the Cincinnati preserves a sugar bowl and creamer from Shaw's personal set.
very minor chip to foot of tea bowl, tight 1 in. hairline from rim of tea bowl.
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