Alms dish

about 1728
Jacob Hurd (American, 1702 or 1703–1758)

Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts


Overall: 4.8 x 34 cm, 0.99 kg (1 7/8 x 13 3/8 in., 2.18 lb.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View




Silver hollowware

Large, circular dish having a wide brim, plain applied molding at rim, and a broad flat base.

This alms dish was one of two commissioned by the Second Congregational Society of Marblehead, Massachusetts. For the purchase of the first dish, £30 were bequeathed to the church in the 1726/27 will of Deacon Richard Skinner, shoreman; the Skinner arms and a Latin inscription are emblazoned on the rim. The second dish, seen here, was purchased the following year. In contrast to the Skinner basin, this example bears only the name of the church and a simple dedication to Reverend Holyoke, following the pattern for most of the Marblehead silver.
These alms dishes were the only two that Jacob Hurd made during his long career. Of large diameter and exceptionally heavy weight, they added considerable luster to a communion service that was already impressive by the late 1720s. Hurd was a natural choice for the congregation, for in the previous decade, they had chosen his chief predecessors, John Coney and John Burt, whose careers were similarly long and prolific, to provide silver for the communion table.

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.


Engraved in flowing script "Belonging to that Church of Christ in / Marblehead of whc the Revd Mr. Edwd. Holyoke / is the Pastor" on rim of dish within a scrolled entablature.


Within vessel, "IHurd" in a shaped cartouche is stamped directly over center point.
Ada Mark * F3847


The Second Congregational Church in Marblehead, Massachusetts (later called the Unitarian Universalist Church in Marblehead); purchased by the MFA from the church in 1984.

Credit Line

Museum purchase with funds donated by a friend of the Department of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture and the Mary S. and Edward Jackson Holmes Fund