Boardman Family of Pewtersmiths

A New England pewter porringer attributed to Thomas Boardman of Hartford, Connecticut

p4A ItemID F7978667
A pewter crown handled porringer by Thomas and Sherman Boardman

p4A ItemID F7978666
A pewter mug with the touch of Thomas and Sherman Boardman

p4A ItemID F7978639
A crown handled pewter porringer marked for Thomas Danforth Boardman

p4A ItemID F7941921

Boardman Family of Pewtersmiths

The Boardman family of pewtersmiths provided many of America’s leading practitioners of this craft in the first half of the nineteenth century. Four Boardman brothers, Thomas Danforth (1784 to 1873), Sherman (1787 to 1861), Timothy (1798 to 1825) and Henry S. (1820 to 1895), were born into Connecticut’s first family of pewtersmiths, having descended from the craft’s patriarch, Thomas Danforth of Norwich (1703 to 1786), through their mother Sarah Danforth Boardman.

Thomas D. Boardman finished his pewtersmithing apprenticeship with Edward and Samuel Danforth in 1804 and began working in Hartford. Sherman joined him a few years later, and they worked together for almost fifty years at 59 Main Street in Hartford. One of the touchmarks used by these two brothers during this period was TD&SB in block letters inside a rectangle. This mark was used as late as 1854.

In 1822, the brothers opened a branch in New York at 173 Water Street. A third brother, Timothy, was put in charge of this business, and the name T. B. & Co. was put in use. When Timothy died in 1825, the name changed to Boardman and Company. In 1827 Lucius Hart (1803 to 1871), a Boardman relative by marriage, became a partner in the New York business and the new name, Boardman and Hart, was used until the branch closed in 1850. New York city directories list Boardman and Hart at 173 Water Street beginning in 1828, and later at Burling Slip until 1841.

A second branch of the business was established in Philadelphia in 1844 under the direction of the youngest brother, Henry S. Boardman. Before departing for Philadelphia Henry was listed in Hartford directories as having a separate shop on Trumbull Street. In Philadelphia the business was organized as Boardman & Hall, using that name with “Philada’a” below for their touchmark. In 1845 the touch was changed to read “Hall, Boardman & Co”, and it changed again in 1849 to “Hall & Boardman”, which continued to be used until 1853 when the Philadelphia operation closed.

Collectors generally consider Thomas Boardman’s best work to date to the 1825 period, before he went into the Britannia ware business. Boardman marked his finest wares with a circular eagle touchmark with “Boardman” above and “Warranted” below. (This mark should not be confused with another Connecticut pewtersmith, Luther Boardman, who used a similar circular eagle touchmark with “L. Boardman” above and “Warranted” below.) In addition to a named touchmark, the firm also marked their superior wares with a quality X mark. In general, for larger pieces the touchmark was an eagle with Thomas D. above and Boardman below. On smaller wares the touchmark was a different eagle with T.D.B. below. On most wares the name Hartford in a plain rectangle appears separately. Toward the mid-century a Boardman touchmark featuring the name on a ribbon under a seated lion also was used in Hartford.

Reference note by p4A editorial staff. November 2011

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