The Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum is situated amid a 960 acre park, formally a private estate, about six miles from Wilmington, Delaware in the beautiful Brandy Wine Valley.
In this most elegant setting, Winterthur houses Mr. du Pont's renowned collection of decorative arts, more than 89,00 examples of furniture, ceramics, textiles, metals, paintings and prints made or used in America between 1640 and 1840.
There, on a table, in one of the more than one hundred domestic interiors, sat a three pronged vessel that was similer to the one that we have on the corner table in the Louis White Room back in Ypsilanti.
I will never know what drew my eyes to that particular piece out of all the thousands of beautiful pieces in that wonderful museum.
Noting my interest and surprised expression, the docent offered to run a copy of the file sheet for me. That she did, and our mystery piece was identified as a covered spice box.
The spice bbx, as described by the detailed object report as,…a symmetrically radial tripartite vessel on three fest, having a small pentagonal center with three equidistant vestigially cusped sections. The basic material is earthenware, and is ornamented with polychrome enamel over an opaque white tin-enamel glaze.
Pieces, such as this were made in Marseilles, France by Veuve Perrin between the years 1770-1790.
Ours came to the masem as a part of the Evangeline Lewis estate. Unfortunately there is no way of tracing its history nor discovering how it came into the Lewis family.
While this discovery was but a small one, it did give me quite a thrill. I think I experienced just a touch of the wonder that Columbus must have felt when he heard the words, ‘Land Ho!’
August 18, 1990