The Green Tree: Highlights from the Collection of the Mutual Assurance Company of Philadelphia - April 2007
Joseph Lownes
(American, 1754–1822)
Tankard, c. 1798
Silver, 6 3/8 inches high
Stamped on bottom: “J. Lownes”
Inscribed: “The Underwriters of Philadelphia offer the Tribute of Applause to the Bravery of Captain J. C. Brevoor. The ship Fair American of Philadelphia commanded by Capt. John C. Brevoor, was captured by a French Privateer October 7, 1798, who placed the Crew on board their Vessel with the Exception himself and two of his men and, after remaining a prisoner nine days, Capt. Brevoor and his two men Recaptured his own Vessel from two French Officers and Seven of their Crew and brought them a Prize into the Port of Charleston S.C.”
Provenance: Descended through the family of Captain John C. Brevoor and purchased by the Mutual Assurance Company in the late nineteenth century.
References: Garvan and Wojtowicz 1977, 94–95, illus.
RS 6355

The lengthy inscription on this classical-style silver tankard provides the basic facts about Captain John C. Brevoor’s heroic exploit in recapturing his own ship, the Fair American. The vessel was en route to Havana after taking on cargo in Philadelphia in mid-September 1798 when it was captured by the French privateer L’Enfant de la Grande Rivenche. The French took the American crew on board with the exception of Brevoor and two men, and placed their own crew on the Fair American with the intention of taking it to Cape François. Brevoor succeeded in recapturing his ship and sailing it to safety in Charleston, South Carolina, where the cargo was sold. As a gesture of appreciation the Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania awarded Brevoor $600 and gave $200 to each of his two men. Following a custom of the time, as a token of gratitude the Underwriters of Philadelphia presented him with this inscribed tankard made by the Philadelphia silversmith Joseph Lownes.

Lownes first advertised in 1780 and opened a shop at 130 South Front Street. When he moved to his new house and shop at 124 South Front Street in 1798, he insured the building with the Mutual Assurance Company under policy 948, which later became perpetual policy 2078. Similar presentation tankards by Lownes are owned by the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, and the Winterthur Museum in Wilmington, Delaware.


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