The engraved inscription reads: BY CITIZENS OF PHILADELPHIA/TO THEIR TOWNSMAN/COMMODORE DECATUR/ESTEEMED FOR HIS VIRTUE/HONORED FOR HIS VALOUR
This wine cooler, together with its pair in the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, formed part of a service presented by the City of Philadelphia to Commodore Stephen Decatur on February 11, 1818. The original gift consisted of the pair of wine coolers, two large salvers, and a set of twelve goblets, all by Whartenby & Bumm. The matching wine cooler is illustrated in Berry B. Tracy, Classical America 1815-1845, Newark Museum, 1963, no. 95.
Stephen Decatur (1779-1820) won fame as a naval hero for his victories in the Barbary Wars, first against Tripoli from 1801-1805, and again against Algiers in 1815. However, it was his capture of the British frigate Macedonian during the War of 1812 that brought him a Congressional gold medal and national acclaim. His native city, Philadelphia, gave him the present drinks service, while Baltimore, his wife's native city, gave him a silver dinner service in 1817. The City of New York presented him with a French gold snuff box "in testimony of the high sense they entertain of his valor & skill in the capture of the British Frigate Macedonian by the U.S. Frigate United States Oct 25 1812."