Tankard

1768
Josiah Austin (1719 or 1720–about 1780), Probably engraved by Samuel Minott (1732–1803)


Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts

Dimensions

22.1 x 18.5 x 10 cm (8 11/16 x 7 5/16 x 3 15/16 in.)

Accession Number

1973.18

Medium or Technique

Silver

Not On View

Collections

Americas

Classifications

Silver hollowware

The raised tankard tapers inward from the base and has an applied midband above the lower handle attachment. A tall, cast flame finial tops the domed stepped lid. The cast scrolled thumbpiece and four-part hinge descend to a baluster-shape drop on the shoulder of a hollow seamed handle; a convex oval disk is visible at lower terminal, with a half-round air vent below. The finial has been reattached, but probably dates to the period.


The working relationships between silversmiths in Boston have always been difficult to discern, given the dearth of surviving account books and receipts to indicate a division of labor. It is rare to discover the identity of individual craftsmen who performed specific workshop tasks, such as raising or chasing, or to separate fabricator from retailer or partner. In a few exceptional cases, discoveries of collaborative efforts have been made. Without documentation, it is difficult to clarify these relationships, that is, to identify the silversmith, engraver, and retailer.
So it is for Samuel Minott, a productive silversmith who made at least twenty-five tankards, six of which carry the mark of a second maker. Minott’s mark has appeared on objects also bearing the touchmark of William Simpkins, likely Minott’s master, as well as those of silversmiths Samuel Bartlett, William Homes Sr., Thomas Townsend, and, as on this tankard, Josiah Austin.
In view of his impressive volume of trade, Minott may possibly have called upon other craftsmen to assist with complex works and complete commissions, such as in this tankard probably made by Austin and engraved by Minott for the First Church in Newton.
Josiah Austin’s career was more circumscribed than that of Minott, for although he produced some forty-five surviving objects, his mark has been found in conjunction with only that of Minott. Their marks appear together on two tankards, this example and another made for the Watertown Church.
If Minott did occasionally retail the work of other silversmiths, he may have engraved the vessels himself. One such example may be the beaker Minott made for the Newton church (cat. no. 95), which bears elegant, flourished script similar to that on this tankard. The same engraver’s hand may have produced the inscription on a beaker made for the First Church in Bedford that was marked by Minott and William Simpkins, indicating that perhaps Minott engraved silver for both his master and himself.
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

Inscribed "The Gift of / Deacon John Stone to the / Church of Christ in Newton / 1768" in script on body of tankard opposite handle. Lightly scratched above Minott mark is value of "£ 90.6."

Markings

On bottom of tankard above center point is stamped "Minott" in script within a rectangle. Below center point, "I [pellet] A" within a rectangle.

Provenance

1973, gift of the First Church of Newton, Mass. to the MFA.
Deacon John Stone (1692-1769), a weaver, was the son of Ebenezer Stone (1662-1754), the donor of the John Edwards tankard made for the First Church in Newton (cat. ___; 1973.20). The tankard was made a gift shortly before Stone's death in 1769.

Credit Line

Gift of the First Church in Newton