Boston metalsmiths specialized in making covered boxes and bowls, often enameled. Rebecca Cauman, born in Massachusetts in 1872, and educated at the Massachusetts College of Art and the Rhode Island School of Design, produced covered vessels in copper, silver, and pewter. In her later years she made just the covers for glass and ceramic containers produced by others. Cauman was also a talented enamellist. While many of her works have intricate enamel designs on the covers, the bright red-orange and luminous white enamel interiors below are rich, solid, and simple.
Cauman's work frequently featured distinctive finials. The translucent carved agate rooster shown below is a lovely piece by itself, and helps transform its covered bowl into a remarkable object. Its color works well with the dark patina of the bowl. Interestingly, this piece has a copper bottom and a sterling lid patinated to resemble copper. The blue glass disk finial shown here, one of Cauman's trademark forms, is very modern in style and complements the silvery finish of the box.
Cauman polished pewter box with handmade glass finial on removable lid
Other Cauman finials in carved ivory, polished pewter, and glowing handmade glass are shown below. She inserted bright ceramic triangles into the handles of the pewter tray below to give the piece a focus and an interesting splash of color. Her pewter pieces (like the two bowls below) were often highly polished to resemble silver. The heavy silver bowl below is spare and elegant, with two simple pairs of chased lines as its only ornament.
The compote below is a relatively unusual form for her. As with the pewter tray, she made a handsome object far more striking with the addition of a colorful detail -- in this case a handmade glass ball.
In 1924 Cauman was elevated to Master Craftsman of the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts. In 1927 her work was included in the "Exposition of Art in Trade" in New York City, and in 1928 she and her sister Josephine opened a retail shop on New York's Madison Avenue that prospered until the 1940s. Her work was shown at the Brooklyn Museum, the Metropolitan Museum, and the 1937 Paris Exposition. According to Ark Antiques, "in her middle years her hands became quite arthritic so that she was unable to continue metalsmithing."
Bowl, round, copper, with removable silver lid, red-orange enameled interior and carved agate rooster finial inside small ring on lid. Beautiful patina and hammering, Bowl: 5-7/8" W and 2-5/8" H. Lid: 5-1/16" W and 2" H. Together: 5-7/8" W and 4-5/8" H. Signed: Cauman
Box, pewter, oval, with hinged lid. Lid is covered with deep rich red bezel-set enamel plaque. 4-9/16" W and 3-1/2" D and 1-3/4" H. Signed: Cauman
Bowl, round, copper, with removable lid, white enameled interior and delicately carved and pierced spherical ivory finial on lid atop centered decoration of applied chased concentric circles with pierced small circles and teardrop shapes. Heavy and nicely hammered. Bowl: 5-1/2" W and 2-1/4" W. Lid: 5-1/2" W and 1-5/8" H. Together: 5-1/2" W and 3-3/4" H. Signed: Cauman
Box, round, pewter, straight-sided, with removable tightly fitted slightly domed lid. Bowl has two sets of three chased concentric circles around outside, top and bottom and sits on four small ball feet. Lid has two sets of three chased concentric circles around large dimensional finial of hooded woman pounding wheat with a mallet held over her back. Heavy. Bowl: 4-3/4" W and 2-1/16" H. Lid: 4-7/8" W and 1-3/4" H. Together: 4-7/8" W and 4" H. Signed: Cauman
Box, round, pewter, straight-sided on flat bottom with four small ball feet, and removable tightly fitted slightly domed lid. Lid has large upright round translucent blue stone finial in round see-through frame with a small solid round disk on either side, and eight chased lines radiating outward from the center. Heavy. Identical to bowl pictured in Janet Kardon's Craft in the Machine Age, p. 184, except the glass finial on that bowl is green. Bowl: 4-11/16" W and 2" H. Lid: 5" W and 2" H. Together: 5" W and 4" H. Signed: Cauman
Bowl, round, silver, with removable tightly fitted domed silver lid. Lid has two pairs of chased concentric circles around edge. Marked on base and on lid underside. Nice hammering on bowl. Heavy. Bowl: 5-1/2" W and 2-1/4" H. Lid: 5-11/16" W and 3/4" H. Together: 5-11/16" W and 2-3/4" H. Bowl signed: Cauman / STERLING Lid signed: STERLING / Cauman
Compote, copper, with flaring round top and foot joined by a large green glass ball with internal swirling black design. 6-5/8" W and 4-1/2" H. Signed: Cauman
Salts, pair (2), enameled, with flat bottom and flaring sides that taper in slightly at the top, and nice hammering. Interiors have dark rich blue enamel covering most of the surface, with a different color around the top inside edge (one is purple, the other yellow). Heavy. 2-1/2" W and 1" H. Signed: Cauman/ STERLING
Bowl, round, copper, with five small inward-pointing flutes and dark blue and enamel interior that has added yellows and reds. Small chip on side of enamel. 5-5/8" W and 1-1/8" H. Signed: Cauman
Bowl, round, large, copper, with turned-in rim and eight small inward-pointing dimples at the top. 9-5/8" W and 2-7/16" H. Signed: Cauman
Tray, pewter, round, with two ornate curved handles, and triangular turquoise glass or ceramic insets in the handles. 12-1/4" W across handles. Signed: Cauman