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American Decorative Arts

Beaker

ca. 1680–90

Silver

6 5/8 × 4 5/8 in. (16.8 × 11.7 cm, 338 g)
base: 3 1/2 in. (8.9 cm)
Mabel Brady Garvan Collection
1930.1241
In 1634 the First Congregational Church of Ipswich, Massachusetts, became the twelfth church to be built on New England soil. Sunday observance and churchgoing were enforced by law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Toward the end of the seventeenth century, the general congregation began to take communion out in the pews, where beakers were passed among parishioners, as opposed to taking it one at a time from a chalice at the altar, as was done in Catholic and Anglican churches. This practice necessitated that Puritan churches have multiple communion vessels. Between about 1693 and 1730, parishioners gave or bequeathed the church in Ipswich money to acquire beakers to serve communion. Each beaker bore the donor’s name and occasionally the date of the gift. The Gallery owns eleven beakers from the church in Ipswich (see inv. nos. 1930.1183–1184 and 1930.1241–1249). This example was given to the church by Sarah Hall. Like much Puritan silver, the design of the beaker rejected the ostentatiousness of the Church of England and instead was modeled on a more humble domestic drinking form.
Geography: 
Made in New England
Status: 
On view
Culture: 
American or British
Period: 
17th century
Classification: 
Containers - Metals
Provenance: 

Originally owned by Mrs. Sarah Hall; First Congregational Church, Ipswich, Mass.; Francis P. Garvan, New York, to 1930; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.

Bibliography: 

E. Alfred Jones, The Old Silver of American Churches (Letchworth, England: National Society of Colonial Dames of America, 1913), 226, pl. 78, ill.

“Advertisement,” Antiques 2 (November 1922): 196.

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. 1, p. 315, no. 543, 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.