• 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 68

    A PAIR OF SILVER TANKARDS

    MARK OF WILLIAM COWELL JR., BOSTON, CIRCA 1754

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A PAIR OF SILVER TANKARDS
    MARK OF WILLIAM COWELL JR., BOSTON, CIRCA 1754
    Each tapering cylindrical, with ring molding, domed cover, turned finial and scroll thumb piece, the handle with a mask terminal, the first engraved, By a Subscription of a Number of the Brethren & Sisters of the first Church in Beverly, procured & collected by John Thorndike Jun'r one of the Church A.D. 1754, the second engraved, Purchased with six pounds of ye stock of the first Church in Beverly & a Subscription of ye Brethren & Sisters procured & collected by John Thorndike Jun'r one of ye Church A.D. 1754, each marked on body
    7 5/8 in. high; 44 oz. (2)


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    The Church records show that John Thorndike (b.c. 1675) was a major fund-raiser for this pair of tankards. It was decided at a meeting on March 11th, 1752, that Church funds should be allocated to purchasing "Flower," repairing "one of the Flagons" and that the balance should be reserved "to purchase a Tankard made of Silver...for the Use of the Church att the Communion Table." (Records of the First Church in Beverly, Vol. 1, p. 259).

    At a meeting on March 10, 1756, the Church records include an entry recording that two tankards had been purchased with donations collected by Thorndike and existing church funds. The Church officially recognized Thorndike for his contribution through a vote of thanks "for his procuring the above mentioned Subscription." John Thorndike was also involved in the donation of the 1747 tankard from the Herrick and Wood families (see lot 73).

    (c) 2008 First Parish Church, UU, Beverly MA 01915 All Rights Reserved

    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY OF THE FIRST PARISH CHURCH IN BEVERLY

    The town of Beverly, Massachusetts, was first settled as an outpost of Salem on the north bank of the Bass River in 1630. By 1650, the small population called for an end to the "tediousness and difficulties over the water and other inconveniences" required by the journey across the Bass River to worship at the First Parish in Salem. The community was granted independence and established a meetinghouse in Beverly by 1656.

    The first pastor, Reverend John Hale, is remembered for his tract A Modest Inquiry into the Nature of Witchcraft (1697), in which he discusses the errors and his own lack of judgment in the Salem Witch Trials of the early 1690s.

    Beverly played a central role in the nautical history of the Revolutionary War, serving as the naval headquarters for the Colonial forces, and is often referred to as the "Birthplace of the American Navy." The pastor at the First Parish Church in Beverly during the war, Reverend Joseph Willard (1738-1804), is said to have done much "to kindle and keep alive the general flame of patriotism." (Christopher T. Thayer, An Address Delivered in the First Parish Beverly, October 2, 1867, p. 54)

    Unique to the history of the Church's collection of silver is a strong relationship with patriot and silversmith Paul Revere. Apart from the ewer (lot 69) and pair of communion dishes (lot 70) offered here, the Church commissioned two tankards and an additional two communion dishes from Revere. The two tankards were later engraved with inscriptions for two fledgling churches in the community, the Second Church in Beverly and the Christian Church in Beverly Farms, to which they were donated by the First Church in 1838 and 1831 respectively.


    Caption:
    (c) 2008 First Parish Church, UU, Beverly MA 01915 All Rights Reserved


    Literature

    E. Alfred Jones, Old Silver of American Churches, 1913, pp. 15-16, illus. pl. VI, no. 1, 3
    Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, American Church Silver of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, 1911, p. 33, no. 292, 293
    Patricia Kane, Colonial Massachusetts Silversmiths and Jewelers, 1998, p. 348


    Exhibited

    "American Church Silver of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries," Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1911, cat. no. 292, 293