GI-86 Lafayette / Liberty Cap Portrait Flask

Provenance: Anonymous

The Lafayette – Liberty Cap flask was produced in 1825. The Marquis de Lafayette was a French aristocrat and military officer. He fought in the American Revolutionary War, was wounded in the Battle of Brandywine, fought in the Battle of Rhode Island and commanded American troops in the Siege of Yorktown. This flask may have been produced hoping to capitalize on American patriotism with the 50 year anniversary of the Declaration of Independence coming in 1826.

The Lafayette profile faces right with “LAFAYETTE” in a semicircle above the bust. Below the bust is a semicircle embossed “COVENTRY” over “C-T.” The reverse has a French Liberty hat on a pole enclosed by an embossed oval. Nine five-pointed stars form a semicircle above the oval and “S & S” is at the bottom. The “S & S” stood for the owners of the Coventry Glass Factory, Stebbins and Stebbins.

Known colors are olive-amber which is common; olive green, amber, and green (with olive tone) which is comparatively scarce, and aqua which is extremely rare.

Seven men agreed to erect a glass factory in Coventry, Connecticut on January 14, 1813, along the Willimantic River. Four of the men, Captain Nathaniel Root, Ebenezer Root Nathaniel Root Jr., and Joseph A. Norton all of Coventry were not glassmakers. The group included Eli Evans, Thomas W. Bishop and Uriah Andrews, glassblowers from East Hartford that had the experience to run the day to day operations. Eli, Thomas, and Uriah were to use their expertise where needed in the glass factory and be compensated at $26 per month and $45 for each year they worked in the plant. In 1816 there was an agreement to expand by adding buildings. Thomas Stubbins was operating the glassworks by 1820. Lafayette flasks having embossed “T.S.” were made between 1820 and 1824.

The brother of Thomas may have entered the business sometime in 1825. The “S.S.” on some Lafayette flasks could be the entry of a brother to the glassworks or possibly a mistake. Later in 1825, Rufus B. Chamberlain joined the firm and they were now Stebbins & Chamberlin. The “S & C” is found on some flasks. In 1828, Jasper Gilbert, John Turner and Rufus B. Chamberlain with John Turner’s brother Levi took control forming Gilbert Turner & Company. Lack of wood is said to be the reason for the glassworks closing in 1848, but accounting books seem to indicate sales into 1849.

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