Banner holder

about 1804
Unidentified artist

Object Place: Probably Boston, Massachusetts, United States


11 x 11.7 x 7.1 cm (4 5/16 x 4 5/8 x 2 13/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View




Silver hollowware

This heart-shaped banner holder retains its original padded leather backing, with a ring at the top for a leather shoulder strap. A single socket protrudes to hold the shaft of a banner pole or flagpole. There is a chased and punched geometric border.

A rarity in American silver, this banner holder was presumably made for a member of the Cambridge Light Infantry, a local militia unit that traces its origins to the seventeenth century. Although unmarked, it was probably made in the Boston area. It is one of only two such examples in the Museum’s collection.
The other (06.2402) is crescent shaped and has a brass back plate; it is engraved “The Property of the Housewrights of the Town of Boston” and bears the date 1816. The Society of Housewrights of the Town of Boston, founded in 1804, was a fraternal mutual-aid organization comprised of members of the building trades, including carpenters and architects. Members included Asher Benjamin, Solomon Willard, Ithiel Town, and Alexander Parris, among many others. It dissolved in 1837.

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.


"Cambridge / 1804 / Lt. Infantry" engraved on top at edge




According to family history and tradition, the original owner was Lemuel Pope (1777 – 1851) of Cambridge, Massachusetts. It descended in the family to the eponymous donor of Washington, D.C.

Credit Line

Gift of Lemuel Pope