about 1714
John Edwards (American, about 1671–1746)

Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts


11.1 x 13.6 x 7.8 cm (4 3/8 x 5 3/8 x 3 1/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View




Silver hollowware

The raised straight-sided mug, with center point on bottom, is in the shape of a tapered cylinder with a shallow multiple-stepped base molding and an applied molded rim. The plain, seamed S-scrolled handle has a simple thumbgrip and upturned terminus, with an air vent below. An oval section is soldered between lower handle tip and body, for strength. Extensive poorly executed repairs have been made to the handle at its joints with the rim and body.

Subtle stylistic changes can be observed in the dozen or so mugs made by Edwards between 1695 and 1730. A spherical vessel with a tall neck by the silversmith and his partner John Allen is probably the earliest variant of this form, derived from Westphalian-style stoneware jugs. The Museum possesses a related cup, dated 1708, that is in the shape of a short beaker; it has a reel-shaped body and molded strap handle. However, the larger and later group consisted of the plain, sturdy variety illustrated here, with a tapered cylindrical form that grows wider at its base and has a substantial hollow, seamed handle. The most elaborate of this latter group also has a prominent midrib decoration and a unique cherub’s-head terminal.
When the mate to this mug entered the Museum’s collection in the 1960s, it was unknown that it was one of a pair. Now united, the two were clearly fashioned at the same time. Their weights differ by scarcely a pennyweight, and the engraving of the initials is identical, even to the slight curve in the letter “S,” for Sarah (Oliver) Wendell. From their worn and well-used appearance, and the clumsy repairs made to both, the mugs were probably kept in the family for some time before being separated.

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.


Inscribed "W / I S" in roman letters on base of vessel above center point.


To left of handle is stamped "I E" over a device, within a crowned, shaped shield.


The cup was made for Jacob Wendell (1691 – 1761) and Sarah Oliver (1696 – 1762) of Boston, m. 1714. Subsequent ownership unknown until acquired in the twentieth century by the donor. For more information on the Wendell, Jackson, and Holmes families in which its mate descended, see Buhler 1972, catalogue nos. 86 and 34.

Credit Line

Gift of the Wunsch Foundation, Inc.