With inscribed dedication from James Caldwell to Stephen Van Rensselaer III, this cellarette was probably a gift commemorating the membership of these men to the Dock Association in Albany. Established in 1794, the Dock Association included the proprietors of the dock between the center of Maiden Lane and the north side of State Street. On January 23, 1803, Caldwell and Van Rensselaer were both admitted as members and their wharves were accepted into the common stock (Howell and Tenney's History of the County of Albany, N.Y. (New York, 1886), p.497-8).
Prior to the presentation of this gift, Caldwell and Stephen Van Rensselaer were neighbors. Specializing in the production of snuff and cigars, Caldwell established his business on 1790 near the Manor house of Stephen Van Rensselaer (Howell and Tenney, 1886, p.603; for more on the Manor house, see notes to lots 229, 230). Additionally, Van Rensselear and Caldwell were both elected to the first board of Directors of the Albany Bank in 1793 (ibid, p.528).