• Important American Furniture,  auction at Christies

    Sale 2287

    Important American Furniture, Folk Art, Silver & Chinese Export

    21 - 25 January 2010, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 72

    A LARGE SILVER BEAKER AND CUP

    THE BEAKER MARK OF JOHN CONEY, BOSTON, CIRCA 1718, THE CUP POSSIBLY BY JOHN BLOWERS, BOSTON, CIRCA 1729

    Price Realised  

    A LARGE SILVER BEAKER AND CUP
    THE BEAKER MARK OF JOHN CONEY, BOSTON, CIRCA 1718, THE CUP POSSIBLY BY JOHN BLOWERS, BOSTON, CIRCA 1729
    The beaker bell form, with molded base and lip, with hollow handle added in 1809, the body engraved The gift of Robt Brisco, 1718; the cup baluster with molded lip and base, one handle removed in 1809, engraved The Legacy of the Revd. and Mr. Tho. Blowers to The First Church in Beverly dec'd June the 17th 1729, the beaker marked under base and on body, the cup apparently unmarked
    The beaker 5 7/8 in. high, the cup 5 3/8 in. high; 22 oz. (2)


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    The handle was removed from the cup and added to the beaker in 1809. A letter written by Reverend Abiel Abbot, Pastor at the time that this alteration was made, is now in the possession of the Beverly Historical Society. The document states that the church would like to shift a handle "from a cup, which had two, to a vessel, which had none."

    The following bill, dated 29 November 1809, identifies Israel Trask (1786-1867) of Beverly, as the silversmith who performed the transfer.

    Silversmith Israel Trask's receipt to the Church in Beverly
    Courtesy of the Beverly Historical Society

    Robert Briscoe, the donor of this beaker, emigrated from England and held the offices of selectman, assessor, treasurer and representative among various other posts in Beverly and at the First Parish Church. He donated the meeting house bell in 1712. In his will, he bequeathed a sum of £10 to Reverend Thomas Blowers, allotted money to the poor of Beverly and promised the freedom of his slave.

    Reverend Blowers bequeathed his cup to the First Parish Church in Beverly in his will (Essex County Probate Court, # 2650, courtesy Charles E. Wainwright):

    I give to the First church of Christ in Beverly £15 to be laid out in a piece of plate for ye Communion Table to be paid by my executrix one year after my decease.

    Reverend Thomas Blowers graduated Harvard in 1695 and was pastor of the First Parish Church in Beverly from 1701 to 1729. In A History of Beverly: Civil and Ecclesiastical, he was described by Edwin Stone as "a good scholar and an excellent minister...a distinguished example of warm devotion, of extensive goodness, meekness and sweetness of temper." (p. 225) His son, John Blowers, was a silversmith in Boston and thus a very likely candidate for the manufacture of the two-handled cup.

    Provenance

    The donor of the beaker, Robert Briscoe, married first Abigail Stone (c. 1672-1724), and second Elizabeth Dudley, of Exeter, New Hampshire.

    The donor of the cup, Thomas Blowers (d. 1729), married Emma Elliott (1664-1716) in 1702. Their son was silversmith John Blowers.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY OF THE FIRST PARISH CHURCH IN BEVERLY


    Literature

    The beaker and the cup, E. Alfred Jones, Old Silver of American Churches, 1913, pp. 16-17, illus. pl. VI, nos. 10, 12
    The beaker, Hermann Frederick Clarke, John Coney, Silversmith 1655-1722, no. 38
    The beaker, Patricia Kane, Colonial Massachusetts Silversmiths and Jewlers, 1998, p. 325
    The beaker, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, American Church Silver of the Seventeeth and Eighteenth Centuries, 1911, p. 30, illus. pl. 7, no. 268
    The cup, Francis Hill Bigelow, Historic Silver of the Colonies And Its Makers, 1917, pp. 181-182, illus. pl. 107


    Exhibited

    The beaker exhibited "American Church Silver of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries," Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1911, cat. no. 268