Sons of Liberty Bowl
Paul Revere, Jr. (American, 1734–1818)
Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts
Overall: 14 x 27.9 cm (5 1/2 x 11 in.) Other (Base): 14.8cm (5 13/16in.)
Medium or Technique
Carolyn A. and Peter S. Lynch Gallery (Gallery 132)
The Liberty Bowl honored ninety-two members of the Massachusetts House of Representatives who refused to rescind a letter sent throughout the colonies protesting the Townshend Acts (1767), which taxed tea, paper, glass, and other commodities imported from England. This act of civil disobedience by the “Glorious Ninety-Two” was a major step leading to the American Revolution. The bowl was commissioned by fifteen members of the Sons of Liberty, a secret, revolutionary organization to which Revere belonged; their names are engraved on the bowl as are references to Englishman John Wilkes, whose writing in defense of liberty inspired American patriots. The Liberty Bowl, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution have been called the nation’s three most cherished historical treasures. The bowl was purchased by the Museum in 1949, with funds that included seven hundred donations by Boston schoolchildren and the public.
Inscribed below the rim: “Caleb Hopkins, Nathl barber, John White, Willm Mackay, Danl Malcom, Benjn Goodwin, John Welsh, Fortescue Vernon, Danl Parker, John Marston, Ichbod Jones, John Homer, Willm Bowes, Peter Boyer, Benja Cobb.”
One side, in a circle with a scroll and foliated frame topped by a Liberty cap flanked by flags is engraved: “Magna/Charta” and “Bill of/Rights.” Inside the circle is inscribed: “No45. /Wilkes & Liberty” over a torn page labeled “Generall/Warrants.”
Inscribed on the other side, a Liberty Cap in a wreath above leafy scrolls: “To the Memory of the glorious NINETY-TWO: Members/of the Honbl House of Representatives of the Massachusetts-Bay/who, undaunted by the insolent Menaces of Villains in Power/from a Strict Regard to Conscience, and the LIBERTIES/of their Constituents, on the 30th of June 1768 /Voted NOT TO RESCIND.”
Engraved in script below the rim "Caleb Hopkins, Nathl Barber, John White, Willm Mackay, Danl Malcom, Benjm Goodwin, John Welsh, Fortescue Vernon, Danl Parker, John Marston, Ichabod Jones, John Homer, Wilm Bowes, Peter Boyer, Benja Cobb." On one side in a bright-cut circle with a scroll and foliate frame topped by a Liberty Cap flanked by flags inscribed, respectively, "Magna / Charta" and "Bill of / Rights" is "No 45. / Wilkes & Liberty" over a torn page labeled "Generall Warrants."
On the opposite side, a Liberty Cap in a wreath is centered above horizontal and longer vertical leafy scrolls partly enclosing the famous inscription, "To the Memory of the glorious NINETY-TWO: Members / of the Honbl House of Representatives of the Massachusetts-Bay, / who, undaunted by the insolent Menaces of Villains in Power, / from a Strict Regard to Conscience, and the LIBERTIES / of their Constituents, on the 30th of June 1768, / Voted NOT TO RESCIND."
There is no lower line for the frame but a vertical device of conjoining open loops in below "TO." Beginning at the right of this scroll has been added since 1875 in script and block letters: "This BOWL commemorative of Events prior to the American Revolution, was purchased of the Associates whose names are inscribed upon its surface, by Wm MACKAY, one of their number, from whom upon the demise of the latter, in Feby 1832, it became the property of Wm MACKAY, his Grandson in direct line, a Resident of the City of New York."
In small script beginning under City: "The Associates were Citizens of Boston." On the bottom above the center point: "at whose death in 1873, it / passed into the hands of his / Brother Robt C. MACKAY on Mar. 11, 1902 / transferred it to MARIAN LINCOLN PERRY / of Providence, Rhode Island / a great great grand-daughter of JOHN MARSTON / one of the fifteen associates."
: See inscription. When the bowl was to be sold in 1948, Mark Bortman of Boston headed a committee to purchase the piece for the Museum. Purchased from Marsden J. Perry of Providence in January 1949 for $52,500.
Museum purchase with funds donated by contribution and Francis Bartlett Donation of 1912