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American Decorative Arts
Maker: Nathaniel Vernon, 1777–1843

Two covered cups



Mabel Brady Garvan Collection
This pair of covered cups was part of the communion service at the Circular Congregational Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Founded in 1681, the church is the oldest continually active congregation in the South. In 1804 the congregation hired local architect Robert Mills to create a bold new structure. Mills, who also designed the Washington Monument, in Washington, D.C., was a proponent of Neoclassicism and created a round structure for the church based on the Pantheon in Rome. These cups were made by Charleston silversmith Nathaniel Vernon at about the same time that the new building was erected and likely were intended to harmonize with the architecture. The cups are in the shape of classical urns, raised up on conical bases and bearing scroll handles. The domed lids have acorn-shaped finials. Plain surfaces, which were challenging for a silversmith to achieve, contribute to the restrained, elegant appearance of the cups.
Made in Charleston, South Carolina
19th century
Containers - Metals

Congregational Church, Charleston, S. C.; Francis P. Garvan, New York, N.Y.


E. Alfred Jones, The Old Silver of American Churches (Letchworth, England: National Society of Colonial Dames of America, 1913), 116, pl. 46, ill.

E. Milby Burton, South Carolina Silversmiths, 1 (Charleston, S.C.: Charleston Museum, 1942), 188, ill.

Kathryn C. Buhler and Graham Hood, American Silver in the Yale University Art Gallery, 2 vols. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1970), vol. 2, pp. 255–56, no. 978, ill.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.