About This Artwork

Benjamin Pierpont
American, 1730–1797
Boston, Massachusetts

Cup, 1788

14.6 x 7 x 9.5 cm (5 3/4 x 7 x 3 3/4 in.)
Engraved script inscription on side of cup: "The Gift of / Deacon Obadiah Dickinson / to / the Church of Christ in Hatfield / 1788"
Marked on bottom in shaped cartouche: "B*PIERPON"

Gift of the Antiquarian Society through the Mrs. Edwin A. Seipp Fund, 1948.105

Boston goldsmith and jeweler Benjamin Pierpont made this cup—part of a set of four identical vessels—that was given by Deacon Obadiah Dickinson (1704–1788) to the Church of Christ in Hatfield, Massachusetts. Dickinson was prominent in church and local affairs and also possessed extensive land holdings in the area. Puritan theology dominated the region, and the simple form of the cup along with the use of silver was symbolic of purity. The two handles on the vessel allowed the cup to be easily passed among the congregation’s communicants.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, "American Church Silver of the 17th and 18th Centuries with a few Pieces of Domestic Plate," July - December, 1911, p. 99, cat. 824, 825, 826 or 827.

Art Institute of Chicago, "The Antiquarian Society: The First One Hundred Years," April 23-June 19, 1977, cat. 181, p. 150 (ill.).

Publication History

E.A. Jones, The Old Silver of American Churches, (Letchworth, England, 1913), p.212 (ill.).

The Antiquarian Society of the Art Institute of Chicago: A Pictorial Review of Notable Objects in its Collections and Notes on the Society's Aims and History (Art Institute of Chicago, 1951), no. 53 (ill.).

David A. Hanks, "American Silver at The Art Institute of Chicago," The Magazine Antiques, 98:418-422 (Sept. 1970),. fig. 7, p. 420 (ill.).

Harold Osborne, ed., The Oxford Companion to the Decorative Arts (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975) p. 743 (ill.).

Ownership History

First Congregational Church, Hatfield, Massachusetts; Francis P. Garvan, New York; The Mabel Brady Garvan Collection, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut; sold to the Art Institute in 1948.

Interpretive Resources

View mobile website