Samuel Vernon (American, 1683–1737)
Object Place: Newport, Rhode Island
7.1 x 9.9 x 7.2 cm (2 13/16 x 3 7/8 x 2 13/16 in.)
Medium or Technique
Manning House (Gallery LG36)
The small, raised, cylindrical cup with a flaring rim has a stepped, molded base and a molded, scrolled strap handle. Metal fatigue from use is evident at contact points between vessel and handle, and a large repair has been made to the upper junction using a shaped piece of silver. A second repair has been made to a tear in the rim, opposite the handle.
This modestly scaled domestic vessel was probably similar to the “Silver Cup with one ear, weighing about 3 ounces and 12 grains” given in 1728 by diarist Samuel Sewall to Elizabeth Sewall, wife of his son Joseph Sewall, a minister. This small cup, essentially a short beaker with handle, is one of about eight made by Vernon; each has a plain or drawn molded strap handle and stepped baseband. All were probably fashioned within the first several decades of the eighteenth century.
The cup was passed down for six generations in the matrilineal line and is engraved with the women’s birth dates; Elizabeth Wanton was the first owner. Despite the engraved date of “1691,” it probably came into her possession sometime after 1704, the earliest possible date that Vernon could have fashioned it. Wanton’s birth date and initials were engraved later, perhaps at or near her death, establishing precedent for later inscriptions.
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.
On successively later dates, engraved on base in shaded roman letters "1691 E * W / 1729 M R 1793 / 1761 A H 1845 / 1795 D. F. W. 1888 / 1834 A. W. 1863 / [then upside down and proceeding away from original E*W:] 1864 A. W. S. / 1905 B. S.W." Sprigged script initials engraved on the vessel opposite its handle are a reiteration of those found on the base: "EW / MR / AH / DFW / AW / AWS / 1864 / BSW."
Marked "SV" over a fleur-de-lis, both within a heart, to left of handle.
Made for Elizabeth Wanton (b. 1690/91 – 1762); by matrilineal descent (1) to Dr. Benjamin
Smith Wood (b 1905) of Waltham, MA and Roanoke, VA; 1976, purchase and gift of Dr. Wood to the MFA. (Accession date: Jan 14 and April 14, 1976)
1:Elizabeth Wanton m. 1713 Abraham Borden (1690 – 1732) of Newport, Rhode Island; their daughter Mary Borden (1728/29 – 1798) of Newport and New Bedford, m. 1750 Capt. Thomas Rodman of Newport (1724 – 1766); their daughter Anna Rodman (1761 – 1845) m 1780 Thomas Hazard (1758 – 1828); their niece Deborah Fisher (1795 – 1888) [daughter of Anna's sister Hannah and Samuel Fisher] m 1817 William Wharton (1790 – 1856) of Philadelphia; their daughter Anna Wharton (1834 – 1863), d. unm.; her niece Anna Wharton Smith (1864 – 1945) m1898 Dr. Henry Austin Wood of Waltham (1855 – 1942); their son Dr. Benjamin Smith Wood.
Gift of Dr. Benjamin Wood in memory of Anna Wharton Wood, and Marion Davis Fund