Standing cup (copa)
Object Place: Probably Guatemala
Overall: 19 x 10.5 cm (7 1/2 x 4 1/8 in.)
Medium or Technique
Out on Loan
Out On Loan
A standing silver cup with a capacious bowl decorated with a flat, projecting molding set atop a baluster stem and a stepped base. As with most colonial Latin American silver of this type, the cup was originally held together with a central bolt connecting the stem, base, and bowl. During an old repair, these elements were soldered together, rendering the vessel’s weight greater than when it was originally fashioned.
This unadorned cup was part of a cache of ecclesiastical communion goods discovered in St. Augustine, Florida, yet it does not display the small bowl and gilded interior typically associated with Roman Catholic ritual silver. It may have been a personal cup belonging to a priest or one of his associates that was buried along with church goods to avoid seizure. It shares elements common among domestic vessels made in Spain and Latin America and appears to be closest in style to vessels made in Guatemala.
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.
By 1878, unearthed from property on Oneida Street, St. Augustine, Florida, by property owners William H. Keith (b. 1803 - d. 1885) and Harriet Lovett Keith (b. 1837 - d. 1917), St. Augustine and exhibited at Bigelow, Kennard and Co., Boston; 1880, placed on loan to the MFA; passed by descent and in 1928, given to the MFA. (Accession Date: August 21, 1928)
NOTE: It is not known when this object, along with six other pieces of ecclesiastical silver (MFA accession nos. 28.464 – 28.470) was buried. The cross (28.468) is inscribed with the date 1721 and the name of the Spanish governor and captain general of Florida, Antonio de Benavides (1718 – 1734). It has been suggested that the silver was buried after Spain ceded Florida to the United States in 1821, in response to fears that the U.S. government might seize church property. See Jeannine Falino, Silver in the Americas, 1600-2000. American Silver in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA, Boston, 2008), pp. 465-466, cat. no. 370, and pp. 524-525, Appendix I.
Gift in memory of Mr. and Mrs. William H. Keith