Flagon Maker, attributed to: William Will (American, born Germany, 1742–1798)


American Decorative Arts

On view, 1st floor, American Decorative Arts before 1900

Born in Germany, William Will came to New York as a child with his father, John Will, and brothers, Henry and Philip Will, all of whom were pewterers. William established himself in Philadelphia and over the course of his thirty-year career he produced the widest variety of forms of any colonial American pewterer. His career also spanned a range of styles, from the late Baroque to the Neoclassical. His workshop made both common forms, such as spoons, plates, and mugs, and unusual forms, such as teapots and coffeepots, as well as ecclesiastical objects, including chalices and flagons. This flagon was made for the Zion Lutheran Church in Freeburg, Pennsylvania, which had a largely Germanic congregation. The convergence of English and Germanic cultures is particularly evident in this flagon, whose English form is ornamented with a dedicatory inscription in Germanic script.




13 5/8 × 7 1/4 × 6 in. (34.608 × 18.415 × 15.24 cm)

Credit Line

The Dobson Foundation; Friends of American Arts Acquisition Fund; Mr. and Mrs. Frank J. Coyle, LL.B. 1943, Fund, Peter B. Cooper, B.A. 1960, LL.B. 1964, M.U.S. 1965, and Field C. McIntyre American Decorative Arts Acquisition Fund; Friends of American Arts Decorative Arts Acquisitions Fund; and Lisa Koenigsberg, M.A. 1981, M.Phil. 1984, Ph.D. 1987, and David Becker, B.A. 1979 Fund

Accession Number



18th century


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Andreas Morr, Freeburg, Pennsylvania; by gift to Zion Lutheran Church, later Saint Peter's Lutheran and Reforned Church, Freeburg, Pennsylvania; stolen ca. 1958. Carl and Celia Jacobs, Southwick, Massachusetts; by sale 1964, John F. Ruckman, Doylestown, Pennsylvania; by sale 1965 Charles V. Swain (1914–2006), Doylestown, Pennsylvania; reclaimed by Zion Lutheran Church, later Saint Peter's Lutheran and Reforned Church, Freeburg, Pennsylvania; sold to Charles V. Swain, 1975; consigned by his estate to Northeast Auctions, Portsmouth, New Hampshire (sale held Manchester, New Hampshire), August 3, 2007, lot 459; sold to Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut
  • American Art: Selections from the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2023), 108–9, no. 46, ill.
  • "Acquisitions," https://artgallery.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/Pub_Bull_acquisitions_2010.pdf (accessed 2012).
  • Donald M. Herr, Pewter in Pennsylvania German Churches, 29 (Birdsboro, Pa.: The Pennsylvania German Society, 1995), 39–40, fig. 53.
  • Beatrice Bronson Garvan and Charles F. Hummel, The Pennsylvania Germans: A Celebration of Their Arts, 1683–1850, exh. cat. (Philadelphia, Pa: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1982), 166, 172, fig. 125.
  • Wendy A. Cooper, In Praise of America: American Decorative Arts, 1650–1830, Fifty Years of Discovery since the 1929 Girl Scouts Loan Exhibition (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1980), 152–153, fig. 172–173.
  • Charles F. Montgomery, A History of American Pewter (New York: Dutton, 1973), 81-82, fig. 4–38.
  • Suzanne Hamilton, "The Pewter of William Will: A Checklist," Winterthur Portfolio 7 (1972): p. 140, fig. 15, no. 47.
  • Ledlie I. Laughlin, Pewter in America: Its Makers and Their Marks, Volume III (Barre, Mass.: Barre Publishers, 1971), fig. 802, pl. XCVIII.
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type



In Germanic script under spout "Zur ehre Gottes gestiffitet/von Andreas Morr /in die Evangelisch Lutherische Zion/Kirche, in Penns-township/Northumberland County/Den 20 ten July Anno dom./1795"

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