Tankard

Henry Hurst, American (born Sweden), 1666 - 1717
Boston, Massachusetts

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about 1710

Silver

Overall: 7 1/4 in. (18.4 cm)

Lid: 4 3/4 in. (12.1 cm)

Base: 4 7/8 in. (12.4 cm)

Rim: 4 1/8 in. (10.5 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Purchase made possible through the generosity of Frank L. Harrington, Class of 1924

M.987.43

Geography

Place Made: United States, North America

Period

1600-1800

Object Name

Tools and Equipment: Food Service

Research Area

Decorative Arts

On view

Inscriptions

Marked four times-twice at right of handle and twice on cover: HH [in cartouche]; engraved on front of body, in large foliated ornament: IPM [P superscript] (initials rubbed and barely legible); engraved on front, above ornament: The Gift of, Francis, And Mary Whitmore / To the first Church In Medford 1761; engraved on bottom: Mary Parker

Label

One could say this tankard had three lives. It was first owned by Mary Parker (née Hancock), whose name is engraved on the bottom of the tankard. The three partially rubbed initials (a P above an I [for J] and an M) in the engraved foliate wreath cartouche indicate that it originally commemorated her marriage to John Parker.

After having served as a domestic drinking vessel for roughly fifty years, the tankard moved to the sacred realm in 1761. As indicated in its engraved inscription, that year Mary Parker’s second husband, John Francis Whitmore (and Mary Whitmore in name, as she had died the previous year) donated the tankard to the First Church in Medford. Although tankards were most often used as serving or drinking vessels for secular functions within the church, they also functioned as sacramental cups during the communion service. The adoption of an obviously domestic form for sacramental use in a Reformed church would appear to be an intentional rejection of the consciously elaborate ritual style of the Anglican and Roman Catholic Church. 

When in 1987 the Hood Museum of Art acquired the tankard, it changed function and significance once more, as it moved from the ecclesiastical to the aesthetic realm. Within a museum setting, the tankard is no longer used as a drinking vessel—either secular or sacred—but is interpreted instead as a signifier of its 18th-century artistic, cultural, and religious context. At the same time it assumes all the aesthetic, social, and monetary associations associated with “fine art” in our own time.

From the 2019 exhibition American Art, Colonial to Modern, curated by Barbara J. MacAdam, Jonathan L. Cohen Curator of American Art

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To manufacture the tankard and sauceboats, Boston silversmiths Henry Hurst and Samuel Edwards likely used South American silver mined by enslaved people of African and Indigenous descent. Silver extracted by enslaved people enriched the Spanish empire when transported and sold globally.

We do not know if Hurst or Edwards knew of these mining practices, but if they did, they probably did not care. Hurst and Edwards each enslaved at least one man, but their names are unknown to us. They are listed by age—rather than name—in period documents. It is likely these enslaved men labored in the shops of these two Boston silversmiths.

From the 2023 exhibition Liquidity: Art, Commodities, and Water, curated by Michael Hartman, Jonathan Little Cohen Associate Curator of American Art

Course History

HIST 9.1, Empires and Colonies in North America, Paul Musselwhite, Fall 2014

HIST 9.01, America: From Invasion to Independence, Paul Musselwhite, Fall 2019

HIST 5.14, Americas: Invasion to Independence, Paul Musselwhite and Ernesto Mercadeo-Montero, Fall 2022

First Year Student Enrichment Program - Cultures, Identities and Belongings, Francine A'Ness, Summer 2023

Anthropology 55.01, Anthropology of Global Health, Anne Sosin, Fall 2023

Anthropology 55.01, Anthropology of Global Health, Anne Sosin, Fall 2023

Art History 40.01, American Art and Identity, Mary Coffey, Fall 2023

Creative Writing 10.02, Writing and Reading Fiction, Katherine Crouch, Fall 2023

Geography 11.01, Qualitative Methods, Emma Colven, Fall 2023

Geography 2.01, Introduction to Human Geography, Coleen Fox, Fall 2023

Geography 31.01, Postcolonial Geographies, Erin Collins, Fall 2023

Exhibition History

American Art at Dartmouth: Highlights from the Hood Museum of Art, William B. Jaffe and Evelyn A. Jaffe Hall Galleries, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, June 9-December 9, 2007.

American Art, Colonial to Modern, Israel Sack Gallery and Rush Family Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, January 26, 2019-September 12, 2021.

American Church Silver of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries with a Few Pieces of Domestic Plate, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, July-December, 1911.

Do You See What I See?, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, December 17, 1988-March 5, 1989; Katonah Gallery, Katonah, New York, January 14-March 4, 1990.

Harrington Silver Case, Hopkins Center, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, August 12, 2009-present.

Harrington Silver Case, Hopkins Center, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, June 27, 1991-May 6, 1994.

Harrington Silver Case, Hopkins Center, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire.

Liquidity: Art, Commodities, and Water, Israel Sack Gallery and the Rush Family Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, July 29, 2023-June 16, 2024.

New England Silver at Dartmouth College: A Tribute to Frank L. Harrington, Class of 1924, Hood Museum of Art Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, June 3-August 20, 1989, no. 51.

Publication History

Katonah Gallery, "Do You See What I See," Katonah, New York: Katonah Gallery,1990.

Barbara J. MacAdam, New England Silver at Dartmouth College: A Tribute to Frank L. Harrington, Class of 1924, Hanover, New Hampshire: Trustees of Dartmouth College, 1989, no. 51.

The Decorative Arts Society Newsletter, Summer 1988, Vol. 14, #2, ill. p. 7.

E. Alfred Jones, The Old Silver of American Churches, Letchworth, England: Arden Press, 1913, p. 272, ill. LXXXIX.

American Church Silver of the Eighteenth Centuries with a Few Pieces of Domestic Plate, Exhibition Catalogue, Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1911, no. 683, ill. 22.

Eleanor H. Gustafson, The Magazine Antiques, Museum Accessions, ill. p. 600, March 1988.

Patricia E. Kane, Colonial Massachusetts Silversmiths and Jewlers, Hanover: University Press of New England, p. 622-624, 1998.

Barbara J. MacAdam, American Art at Dartmouth: Highlights from the Hood Muesum of Art, Hanover: Trustees of Dartmouth College, 2007, p. 185, no. 154.

Barbara J. MacAdam, Building on Dartmouth's Historic American Collections: Hood Museum of Art Acquisitions since 1985, The Magazine Antiques, November 2007, New York: Brant Publications, color ill. p. 145.

Provenance

First Church of Christ, Medford. Firestone and Parson, Inc., Jewelers, Boston, Massachusetts, 1987.

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