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Rabbit or Boar…and wait, there’s more! Discoveries in the Homestead Dining Room

Updated: Mar 17, 2023

In the dining room of the Homestead, docent-led tours justly focus on the highboy in which silver was successfully hidden from the Tory raiders.

Across the room is another item worthy of note. It is a Famille Rose Chinese Export Porcelain tureen. According to the Homestead’s appraiser, the tureen dates to 1780-1795. However, it did not arrive at the Homestead until 1972 when the McPhersons acquired it from a Conshohocken, Pennsylvania antiques dealer.

The appraiser suggests that the handles of the tureen are either the heads of a rabbit or of a boar. (Your writer is firmly in the rabbit camp.)

Lift the lid and in the tureen you will find a zippered blue velvet bag.

In the bag are four footed salt cellars, four salt spoons, and one portrait. Two of the salt cellars are inscribed: “From Father August 30th 1863 to his dear Samuel & Elizabeth.”

In 1860, Samuel Turner married Elizabeth Walker. Elizabeth was the daughter of Edward Walker, Stephen Mather’s maternal grandfather. August 30th 1863, was Edward Walker’s 60th birthday. Elizabeth was an older sister of Bertha Jemima Walker, Stephen’s mother. Edward Walker and his wife Sophia, are the two portraits on the East wall of the dining room.

And, as if to make sure we would make the proper connections, Bertha McPherson added Elizabeth’s photographic portrait to the velvet bag.

As with so much of the Homestead, there continue to be surprises and riches for us to discover, admire, and enjoy.

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