Wine Cup (one of a pair)
Zachariah Brigden (American, 1734–1787)
Object Place: Boston, Massachusetts
Overall: 16.5 x 9.5 cm, 0.23 kg (6 1/2 x 3 3/4 in., 0.51 lb.)
Medium or Technique
Not On View
The inverted bell-shape vessel rests above a small baluster stem and has a splayed, slightly domed foot with foot ring. The border of the elliptical cartouche is decorated with a wavy line that contains an alternating dot-and-leaf pattern.
According to Zachariah Brigden’s daybooks, these communion cups were ordered by Medfield Church Deacon Peter Cooledge (also spelled Coolidge) (1703 – 1792) on October 24, 1767. He arranged for “2 cups to be made weighing / 8oz 10dwt 0gr a peice … to be done / in five weeks.” A receipt signed only four weeks later by Deacon James Boyden (d. 1779) acknowledged payment of £60 for their fabrication and his acceptance of the two church cups for conveyance to Deacon Cooledge. The discrepancy in weight as measured today is difficult to explain. Some silver may have been lost due to years of polishing. It is also possible that Brigden felt rushed to meet the deadline and so made the cups of a lesser weight.
One cup (1980.490) was purchased with £5 bequeathed in 1753 by Eleazer Bullard; the matching vessel (1980.491) was purchased with an unknown sum provided by Elizabeth Adams Richardson (1694 – 1766), probably as a bequest. The church retained the funds for about a year after Richardson’s death before commissioning the vessels.
Scholars have noted certain aesthetic and textual decisions that were undoubtedly made at the time of the commission. They have interpreted the crowding of letters on both as evidence that Brigden engraved the cups himself rather than engaging a proficient engraver such as Joseph Callender (1751 – 1821) as he was wont to do. Brigden’s mark appears near the engravings, perhaps a subtle indication of authorship. Similar engravings are found on the Hadley church silver made by Brigden, but in these examples the marks do not appear in a prominent location.
Bridgen was one of the more prolific silversmiths of mid-eighteenth-century Boston; more than 120 examples of his work are known. Through his marriage to Sarah Edwards, daughter of Thomas Edwards, his master, Brigden inherited Edwards’s clientele and his shop on Cornhill. He produced a wide range of domestic silver, including a presentation teapot and tankard commissioned by the Proprietors of the Charles River Bridge. Beakers, two-handle cups, standing cups, tankards, and mugs make up the liturgical silver he produced for Congregational churches in Massachusetts, Maine, and Connecticut.
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.
Within an ellipse on bowl is engraved "The Gift of / Eleazer Bullard / To the Church:of:Christ / in / Medfeild" in script.
Stamped between rim of cup and inscription with "Z [four-pointed star] B" in roman letters with in a rectangle.
18th century, funds provided to the church through the bequest of Eleazer Bullard (1676-1753) of Medfield, son of Benjamin Bullard of Sherman, Massachusetts; 1980, gift of the First Church Parish, Unitarian, Medfield to the MFA.
1William S. Tilden, ed., The History of the Town of Medfield, Massachusetts, 1650-1886, (Boston: George H. Ellis, Pub., 1887), p. 331.
Gift of the First Church Parish, Unitarian, Medfield, in memory of Virginia Hagberg McQuillan