The earliest piece of American silver known is a beaker of this type by Dummer's master, John Hull, dating to 1647-1652. Hull's beaker, which has similar snakeskin matting with a similar shield-shaped reserve, is engraved TBC, for The Boston Church (illustrated in David B. Warren, et al., Marks of Achievement, 1987, cat. no. 1, illus. p. 32).
The present beaker is also closely related to the example by John Hull and his partner Robert Sanderson, made in 1659 (also for the First Boston Church) and now in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (illustrated here). Dummer, America's first native-born silversmith, began his apprenticeship in 1659, documented in John Hull's diary on May 1, 1659, "I received into my house Jeremie Dummer and Samuel Paddy to serve me as apprentices eight years. The Lord make me faithful in discharge of this new trust committed to me, and let his blessing be to me and to them!" (Diary of John Hull, as quoted in Clarke and Foote, op. cit., p. 15.)
Certainly this rare beaker is a tribute of apprentice to master, and indeed the two silversmiths maintained their business relationship after Dummer established his own shop.
Francis Skerry arrived in Boston in the early 1630s from Great Yarmouth, England, and became a Freeman of Salem on May 17, 1637, a year after he is first recorded in the records of the First Church. Francis Skerry and his brother, Henry Skerry (c.1608-1697), were successful maltsters, and land and probate records indicate that they were also involved in numerous real estate ventures. In Francis Skerry's will, proved August 30, 1684, he left to his wife, Bridget, their house, malt-house, and adjoining homestead. Generations of the Skerry family lived on and owned this land until it was sold in 1829. In the period leading up to the Salem Witch Trials, accused witch John Godfrey had lived on Skerry's land.
Francis Skerry's House, The Essex Antiquarian, 1904
Silver Beaker by John Hull and Robert Sanderson, Boston, 1659, Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston