Sotheby’s to Offer Silver and Furniture Collection

. December 31, 2008

On January 23 & 24, 2008, Sotheby’s New York will offer for sale The Silver and Furniture Collection of the First Parish Church in Cohasset, Massachusetts, a Unitarian Universalist Congregation, as part of its twoday sale of Important Americana. The collection will feature six lots of 18th and 19th Century American silver beakers highlighted by two pairs of beakers – The Deacon John Jacobs Silver Beakers by Jacob Hurd, Boston, 1728 (each pair est. $70/100,000). The sale will also include An Important William and Mary Carved and Figured Maple Armchair, Ipswich or Boston, Massachusetts, circa 1720 (est. $50/100,000).

The First Parish Church began as a congregation in 1721, when Nehemiah Hobart was ordained as the first minister, and today serves approximately two hundred members on the South Shore of Boston. The church acts as both the spiritual and the physical centerpiece of town, on the Cohasset Common, and occupies a Meeting House constructed in 1747 as well as a Parish House built by the first minister. As the First Parish Church approaches its 300th anniversary, it remains a
community grounded in the past, inspired by the present, and planning for the future.

The earliest American colonial silver is highly valued by both scholars and collectors, yet exemplary pieces have rarely appeared at auction. Those pieces that do survive are typically preserved in the churches to which they were given. Custodianship by a church insures that the silver has been treated with respect and has stayed in far better condition than that in domestic use. The six lots of beakers to be offered in January have remained out of use, tucked away in a vault, for over fifty years.

The two pairs of Deacon John Jacobs Silver Beakers by Jacob Hurd (each pair est. $70/100,000), commissioned by Jacobs from Hurd in 1728, belong to the very earliest group of dated pieces from maker’s workshop – a workshop that has been credited with the creating of more than half of the surviving Boston silver from that time. Deacon John Jacobs was the grandson of Nicholas Jacobs, one of Hingham’s earliest settlers, and the son of John Jacobs Sr., one of the leaders of Hingham’s dispute with Scituate over the area which would become the new community of Cohasset. Another pair of beakers, unmarked and donated in accordance with the will of Deacon Jacobs, has the name “Revere” scratched tantalizingly underneath each one (est. $20/40,000).

Also included will be the Susanna Lewis Beakers: A Pair of American Silver Beakers, Nathan Hobbs, Boston, dated 1824 (est. $8/12,000), which bear the inscription “To the Church of Christ in Cohasset – This Cup is the Gift of Suzanna Lewis, it being the proceeds of a Gold Medal, from the King of Denmark to her late husband Capt. John Lewis.” The “gold medal from the King of Denmark” which paid for these beakers was recognition of one of the most noted shipwrecks on the Cohasset coast. On February 12, 1793, the Giertrude Maria, underway from Copenhagen to Boston, was wrecked off of the Cohasset shore, spewing cargo and men into the sea. Cohasseters in small boats rescued both men and cargo, and even provided a vessel for the sailors to continue to Boston, in appreciation of which the King of Denmark awarded four gold medals and ten silver ones.

An Important William and Mary Carved and Figured Maple Armchair, Ipswich or Boston, Massachusetts, circa 1720 (est. $50/100,000) will be offered in the Saturday afternoon session of Important Americana. Gifted to the First Parish Church, this important armchair relates directly to the largest group of caned seating furniture made in America, which is typically referred to as the “I” group because the majority of surviving examples have a punched “I” on the back stile of the chair. The chair is possibly attributed to John Gaines III due to its exuberant carving and slip-in seat frame design.

Category: Auction News

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