American market custard cup, Jiaqing c.1800, for Commodore Richard Dale
A custard cup or pot-de-crème and cover, 3½” tall, from the dinner service made for Commodore Richard Dale (1756-1826). He joined the Continental Navy in 1776, serving under John Barry, and was later promoted First Lieutenant under John Paul Jones. Dale was one of the original six commodores of the new United States Navy appointed by George Washington in 1794 Dale was born in Norfolk, Virginia, and lived much of his life in Philadelphia.
After the Revolutionary War and Independence, he took part in the early American trade between Philadelphia and Canton, commanding various merchant ships to China and India. Dale is known to have been in Canton in 1788 for a Chinese painting on glass of this date is entitled ’Captain George Harrison of the Alliance and his Friends in Canton’. Dale was First Mate on this voyage and can be identified by his name on his hatband in the painting. His final voyage was also on the Alliance which visited Canton in 1799, almost certainly the occasion on which this service was ordered.
Part of the service, and the original order, is in the Independence Seaport Museum, while various other American museums also have examples of this service. There is a monument to his memory in Portsmouth, Virginia.
The base with old collector label ’19’ and retail label ’Oriental Lowestoft’ of Matthew & Elisabeth Sharpe, noted dealers of Conshohocken, PA, who bought the entire service.
Reference : Howard & Ayers; China for the West, p.516, for an oval dish and a long description of this service, including a detailed family descent from the daughter of Commodore Dale.
Condition : Views as perfect, but short hairline at side of cup discovered under UV light only.