Child's cup

about 1842
Davis, Palmer & Co. (active 1838–1845), Thomas Aspinwall Davis (1798–1845), Julius A. Palmer (1803–1872), Josiah G. Bachelder (American, active 1837–1870)


Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Dimensions

8 x 10.5 cm (3 1/8 x 4 1/8 in.)

Accession Number

RES.34.5

Medium or Technique

Silver

Not On View

Collections

Americas

Classifications

Silver hollowware

The cup has a straight-sided body with a center point on the base. The body is divided into twelve panels engraved with upright acanthus leaves centered on each edge in the metal. A cartouche on the front of the cup interrupts the row of leaves and is embellished with slightly asymmetrical C-scrolls and acanthus leaves. A band of gadrooned decoration encircles the rim while the cup sits on an applied anthemion-stamped base band. The angular handle is hollow and impressed with a delicate Vitruvian scroll on three sides.


Windsor Fay, a prominent Boston shipowner and India Wharf merchant, and his wife, Dorcas, purchased this elaborately chased cup for their granddaughter Eliza Fay French, who was born August 14, 1842. The couple bought the cup from Davis, Palmer & Co., retailers of imported jewelry, coin flatware, and hollowware (see cat. no. 143). Dorcas Fay also presented a silver cup (Res.34.2) to William Henry Fay (b. 1835), the child of her son William C. Fay. The presentation of a lavishly decorated silver cup signifies not only affection and high expectations for a child but also the donor’s financial ability to afford such a substantial gift.

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

"Eliza Fay French" engraved in script within a reserve framed with chased C-scrolls and foliage and centered on the body of the cup opposite the handle.

Markings

Stamped in rectangles "Davis Palmer and Co." in upper and lowercase italic letters and "Pure Coin" in upper and lowercase Roman letters on the base of the cup.
Ada Mark * F4747

Provenance

Made a gift to Eliza Fay French (b. August 14, 1842) by her grandparents, Dorcas Clark Fay (b. Gloucester, Mass., 1785-d. Boston 1861) and Windsor Fay (b. Mason, N.H., 1780, d. Boston 1844). Dorcas and Windsor were married September 1, 1829, and had eleven children. The cup's original owner, Eliza Fay French, was the child of their daughter, Eliza Fay (1831-1843) and Otis E. French. Perhaps indicative of the grandparent's traditional gift to a new grandchild, Dorcas Fay had presented her son William C. Fay's child, William Henry Fay, (b. 1835), with a silver cup (MFA, Res. 34.2 ) as well. Eliza's cup descended through the Fay/French family to Annie Bolton (Fay) Bryant (m.William Matthews) and then to her daughter, the donor, Mrs. Wallace (Annie B. Matthews) Bryant (1870-1933).

Credit Line

Bequest of Annie Bolton Matthews Bryant