American Decorative Arts

Toy Snuffers and Snuffer Tray

ca. 1680–90


Snuffers: 2 in. (5.08 cm)
Snuffer Tray: 7/16 × 3 3/16 in. (1.11 × 8.13 cm)
Mabel Brady Garvan Collection
A fashion for elaborate dollhouses originated in late seventeenth-century Holland and spread to England and the American colonies. These were not amusements for children but for wealthy women who outfitted them with sumptuous furnishings executed in miniature. Some colonial goldsmiths specialized in “toys and jewels,” which they imported from London or made locally. These box snuffers and snuffer tray are from an assembled set of silver toys owned by Bethiah Shrimpton (1681–1713) of Boston.
Made in England
17th century
Toys and Games

Originally owned by Bethiah Shrimpton (1681-1713), Boston, MA; her niece, Elizabeth (Hunt) Wendell (1717-1779); her daughter, Elizabeth (Wendell) Smith (1742-1779); her daughter, Elizabeth (Smith) Stevens (1795-1860); her daughter, Mary Eliza (Stevens) Pride; Mrs. Charles W. Lord; her granddaughter, Mrs. A. Ralph Stephan; gift in 1935 to Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.


Kathryn C. Buhler and Graham Hood, American Silver in the Yale University Art Gallery, 2 vols. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1970), vol. 1, pp. 314–17, no. 544.

Barbara M. Ward and Gerald W. R. Ward, eds., Silver in American Life: Selections from the Mabel Brady Garvan and Other Collections at Yale University, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1979), 108, no. 98, ill.

John Marshall Phillips, “Masterpieces in American Silver; Part I, Seventeenth-Century Traditions,” Antiques vol. 54, no. 6 (December 1948): 416, ill.

John D. Kernan, Jr., “American Miniature Silver,” Antiques 80 (December 1961): 567, fig. 1.

John Marshall Phillips, Masterpieces of New England Silver, 1650–1800: An Exhibition Held June 18 through September 10, 1939, Gallery of Fine Arts, Yale University (Boston: Harvard University Press, 1939), 86–87, no. 205.

From Colony to Nation; an Exhibition of American Painting, Silver and Architecture from 1650 to the War of 1812, exh. cat. (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1949), 107, no. 244.

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 such records is ongoing.