J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

The Edes Punch Bowl (now in color)

The Massachusetts Historical Society recently featured this photograph of the Edes family punch bowl, one of the historic objects in its collection. In the accompanying essay, curator Anne Bentley puts the porcelain bowl in its contexts: the career of printer Benjamin Edes, the political crisis over tea in 1773, and the consumption of alcohol in British North America. I quoted Peter Edes’s letter describing the night of the Tea Party at his father’s shop at more length back here.

One theme of recent Tea Party scholarship, as in Marc Aronson’s The Real Revolution and Benjamin Carp’s upcoming Teapot in a Tempest, is the global dimensions of the event. The Tea Act of 1773 that got the eastern coast of North America all upset had its roots in Londoners’ investments in Indian transshipment of an agricultural product from China. This porcelain punch bowl from China, which had made its way to a middling family in Boston, is another sign of that global trade.

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