German or English
about 1620
Marked by Unmarked

Object Place: Europe, England or Germany


H. 13.5 cm (5 5/16 in.); W. 12.4 cm (4 7/8 in.); Diameter (of foot) 8.3 cm (3 1/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Serpentine with silver mounts

On View

Alyce Morrissey Gallery (Kunstkammer) (Gallery 143)





The black serpentine body of the tankard is bombé in shape, with two registers of horizontal molding at the mid-section and below the rim. The base is mounted with a silver foot rim with serrated bezel. The mid-section and rim of the vessel are encircled with molded silver bands to which the ear-shaped handle is attached. The silver cover is stepped and slightly domed. The thumbpiece is in the form of an elongated scroll. The stone vessel is lathe turned. The silver foot ring, moldings and handle are fabricated. The cover is raised.

Ranging in color from green to red and black, the stone known as serpentine was mined from India to Germany. Like rhinoceros horns in Asia, it was believed to detect poison and to have healing properties. This example was turned on a lathe before it was mounted with silver.


Armorials: Engraved on cover, the arms of Sebastian Harvey (about 1552–1620-21) of London and Walton in Stone, Staffordshire.

Inscriptions: Engraved on underside of foot rim, Sir Sebastian Harvey, came to be Lord Maior 1618


Sebastian Harvey (b. about 1552 - d. 1620/1), London [see note 1]. John Hewett, London; probably sold by Hewett to John Hunt, Dublin and London; 1959, sold by Hunt to the MFA for £135. (Accession Date: November 12, 1959)

[1] The engraved arms are those of Sebastian Harvey. An inscription on the underside of the foot rim reads "Sir Sebastian Harvey, came to be Lord Maior 1618."

Credit Line

Theodora Wilbour Fund in memory of Charlotte Beebe Wilbour