Tea or hot water urn

John McMullin American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 704

The yellow fever epidemics of 1793 and 1798 devastated the city of Philadelphia, killing thousands and forcing many to flee what was then the nation’s capital and largest city. Among those who remained behind to tend the stricken was Dr. Philip Syng Physick, “the father of American surgery.” For his exceptional dedication and self-sacrifice, the board of managers of the City Hospital presented him with these two magnificent pieces of silver—a tea tray and a hot-water urn—fashioned in the Neoclassical style, with bright-cut paterae and floral festoons. Each piece is engraved with the dedicatory inscription “From the Board of Managers of the Marine & City Hospitals to Philip Syng Physick, M.D., this Mark of their respectful approbation of his voluntary and inestimable services as Resident Physician at the City Hospital in the Calamity of 1798.”

Tea or hot water urn, John McMullin (1765–1843), silver with ivory handle, American

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