Beaker

1753
Paul Revere, Jr. (American, 1734–1818)


Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

Dimensions

Overall: 14.2 x 9.5 cm (5 9/16 x 3 3/4 in.)

Accession Number

2002.226

Medium or Technique

Silver

On View

Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch Gallery (Gallery 132)

Collections

Americas

Classifications

Silver hollowware

The raised vessel, of inverted bell form, has an everted rim and slightly rounded base; the vessel is soldered to a drawn and stepped circular foot rim. The presentation inscription is engraved on the side within a bellflower and scroll cartouche.


This beaker is one of three commissioned in 1753 by unnamed members, called the “contributors,” of the Presbyterian Church originally in Long Lane, now known as Arlington Street Church. It is somewhat unusual for a church to acquire an odd number of cups, but the three beakers were undoubtedly intended to join one fashioned by Jacob Hurd in 1744 (cat. no. 86) to create a set of four.
Although these beakers were first published in 1913 and are well known to scholars, their recent sale has focused fresh attention on the marks used in the 1750s by the Reveres, father and son. In particular, the combination of the “[pellet] Revere” mark and an engraved date of “1753” raises questions regarding the maker of this cup and its two mates.
The first concerns the “[pellet] REVERE” maker’s mark, which has always been ascribed to Paul Revere II. It has generally been understood that this mark was first used by the patriot after his father’s death in July 1754. Despite being two years shy of completing his apprenticeship, the younger Revere was a competent craftsman by that date, for he carried on the trade under the supervision of his mother, who acted in her husband’s stead. These church beakers demonstrate that Revere was a skilled silversmith who used this mark before his father’s death and probably with his father’s consent.
In all likelihood, the elder Revere allowed his son to produce works and stamp them with a mark modified from one he had used since about 1750. Such an unorthodox arrangement would have occurred only between silversmiths related by blood, when one silversmith was a headstrong son or the master was also a father who had complete confidence in his apprentice son. Indeed, by adapting the new mark from an old one, described by Kathryn C. Buhler as appearing “almost as if [Revere] had cut the initial from the earlier mark,” the elder Revere put his “P [pellet] REVERE” mark out of commission, tacitly approving work made and stamped by his son.
The assured construction of the beaker is completely in keeping with fabrication methods common in mid-eighteenth-century Boston, demonstrating the apprentice’s skill. However, awkward line breaks in the text suggest that Revere Jr. had not yet learned to plan his engraved designs. The text on the related two beakers is arranged more smoothly, with no hyphenated words, and may demonstrate that the young silversmith learned an important lesson while working on this commission.
If one accepts the theory regarding the engravings, the Museum’s beaker is an important document in Revere’s career, for it could be the very first piece of church silver he fashioned and his first documented use of this mark. If so, it marked an auspicious start for an ambitious young silversmith.

This text has been adapted from “Silver of the Americas, 1600-2000,” edited by Jeannine Falino and Gerald W.R. Ward, published in 2008 by the MFA. Complete references can be found in that publication.

Inscription

Engraved in script on side of vessel "This cup is / Generously Dedicated by the Con / tributors for the sole use and benefit / of the Presbyterian Church and Co / ngregation in Bury Street of which / the Revd. Mr. Moorhead is Minister / N=England. 8br ye 1753" within a bellflower scrolled and foliated cartouche.

Markings

Marked "[pellet] REVERE" within a rectangle, above the center point on the base of vessel.

Provenance

Commissioned by contributors to the Presbyterian Church in 1753, the beaker remained in the church until January 2002, when it was placed at auction at Christie’s, New York. It was not purchased and thereafter sold through Northeast Auctions on August 3 – 4, 2002, when it was purchased by the donors and made a gift.

Credit Line

Museum purchase with funds doanted by Lavinia and Landon T. Clay