George III sterling silver two handled cup and cover with gilded interior, London date marks for 1765, maker's mark IS or TS, engraved with 1837 inscription: Presented by The London Crow Club to T.D. Rice ( Thomas Dartmouth Rice ) Esq. The Original — This 26 of April 1837" along with several names, presumably club members, encircling the foot. A crest of a crow with motto "It is de caws" is engraved in the center. 11" H x 8 1/2" H. 28.075 ounces troy. Historical note: Thomas D. Rice (1808-1860), known as the Father of American Minstrels, was an American-born comedian, actor, and playwright. He became famous for his popular stage show in which he portrayed a fictional slave named Jim Crow – a name would become associated with racial segregation long after Rice's death. The character was first performed by Rice in Louisville, Kentucky in 1828. Rice toured both America and England to overflowing theaters, and his blackface song-and-dance act inspired numerous other blackface minstrel shows in the 19th and early 20th centuries. This cup was presented to Rice during his 1837 tour of the British Isles. It included a visit to London, where a "Jim Crow Club" had been formed, and the New York Spirit of the Times reported that at one of the luncheon sessions, Rice presented the membership with a large picture "of various portraits of the members of the Club, all representing crows, Jim Crow being in the center." Although Rice's shows would be considered offensive by present day audiences, they were performed for both black and white audiences. He also starred at Purdy's New National Theater on New York's Broadway in the title role in Uncle Tom's Cabin, a play based on Harriet Beecher Stowe's best-selling abolitionist novel. His performances brought in considerable sums of money, but Rice spent lavishly and died in poverty in 1860. Condition: Possible later decoration to cup, part of inscription "the original –" has been scratched out, some light waviness to edge of cover.
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