Robert Morris (1735-1806) was one of only six people who signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. A wealthy Pennsylvania merchant and banker, he both raised and donated vast amounts of money for the Continental Army and was known as "the financier of the American Revolution." He also served as superintendent of finance from 1781 to 1784 and later created the Bank of North America which settled the shaky financial condition of the Continental Congress.
Unfortunately after the war Morris became involved in risky real estate transactions and lost his fortune. He was sent to debtor's prison in 1798, was released in 1801, and lived his last years in poverty.
The Morris coat-of-arms on this basket appears to have been engraved in Philadelphia, based on the style of the cartouche. Considerable English silver was imported into Philadelphia in the mid 18th century to embellish the houses of its increasingly prosperous citizenry. Georgian silver objects also served as prototypes for Philadelphia silversmiths. For example, the extensive silver collection of Philadelphian Lynford Lardner (1715-1774) included an imported Samuel Wood cruet which was engraved locally and a John Priest candlestick which served as the model for a pair of cast candlesticks by Edmund Milne. See: Jack Lindsey, "Lynford Lardner's Silver: Early Rococo in Philadelphia," The Magazine Antiques, vol. 143 (April 1993) pp. 608-15.
CAPTION: Robert Morris (1735-1806) by Charles Willson Peale, c. 1782, Courtesy of the Independence National Historic Park