Revolutionary War-Era Church Silver from Woburn, Mass., to Lead James D. Julia Sale

The two loving cups and six beakers from the First Congregational Church of Woburn, Mass. That will be featured in an upcoming annual summer Antique, Asian and Fine Art auction to be hosted by James D. Julia, Inc., on Aug. 21-23, 2013.

WOBURN, Mass. – A collection of Revolutionary War-era silver from the First Congregational Church of Woburn, Mass.—one of the first houses of worship in the United States—will be featured in an upcoming annual summer Antique, Asian and Fine Art auction to be hosted by James D. Julia, Inc., on Aug. 21-23, 2013.

The silver collection is a “who’s who” time capsule of 18th-century Boston-area silversmiths. The eight antique silver pieces—two loving cups and six beakers—are in excellent original and untouched condition with only the slightest imperfections resulting from age. Each item is inscribed; all but two have maker’s marks.

The loving cups are 5 1/8 inches and 7 ¼ inches tall:

• The smaller one is by George Hanners, Sr., and is engraved “The Gift of Coll. Eleazer Flegg to the Church in Woburn 1726.”
• The bigger one is by J. Jones and is engraved “The Gift of Joseph Lawrance Esqr To the first Church of Christ In Woburn 1882.”

The four marked beakers range in size from 5 3/8 to 6 1/8 inches:

• The first, by Jacob Hurd, is inscribed “The Gift of N Saltonstall and R Cotton to the first Church of Christ in Woburn.
• The second, by Josiah Austin, is inscribed “Belonging to the first Church of Christ in Woburn 1769.
• The third, by Benjamin Burt, is inscribed “The Gift of Mr Isaac Stone; to the first Church of Christ, in Woburn. 1771.
• And the fourth marked beaker, by John Burt, is inscribed “The Gift of Mr. Roland Cotton to the first Church of Christ in Woburn 1741.”

The two unmarked beakers are each 5 7/8 inches tall and inscribed with the identical phrase “The Gift of Mr. Roland Cotton to the Second Church of Christ in Woburn 1740.” Each item will carry a conservative estimate in the catalog to encourage a high degree of participation.

The First Congregational Church of Woburn can trace its roots back to the earliest days of the colonial period and the founding the original Massachusetts Bay colony. The church opened its doors in August of 1642 and has been in continuous operation since. Although the structure has been changed and updated numerous times over its 370-plus-year history, today it is the tallest and largest wooden structure of its type, standing 196 feet tall with a capacity to seat 1,500 people. The building has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1992.

Several years ago, as the result of a severe New England hurricane, the front of the church suffered extensive structural and aesthetic damage. The church tried to raise the funds needed for repairs through donations, fundraisers and grants, but these efforts to date were not able to generate the money needed for this essential project. A group of church trustees suggested that the organization sell the church’s collection of silver beakers and loving cups. These artifacts, although property of the church since the 1700s, had been cataloged by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and had been in storage there for more than 100 years. As a matter of fact, the last time the vessels were on public display was 1967. Although a handful of congregants were unhappy with the potential sale, most agreed that selling the silver at a top tier auction house would be a wise solution to the organization’s financial challenges.

“We need the funds generated by the silver sale to repair the church and restore the front so it again represents the legacy of the congregation and its community,” said church trustee Ed Peterson. “It is leadership’s hope that these highly visible projects will energize our existing parishioners, encourage contributions, and attract new families to our organization.”

This important project requires the resources and expertise from both Julia’s Fairfield, Maine, headquarters, as well as the company’s full-service office in Woburn, Mass., which delivers first rate identification, valuation, and auction services to customers in the Boston and southern New England areas.

“It is an honor and a privilege to be working on behalf of The First Congregational Church, which is such a significant and historically important institution,” said James Callahan, co-director of Julia’s Woburn facility. “The Woburn connection between the church and our offices adds additional layers of excitement and interest to this sale. The collection is a superb assembly of locally manufactured, Paul Revere-era silver that tells a wonderful story about a critical time in our country’s history. Holding pieces of it in my hands literally transports me back to revolutionary times.”

The First Congregational Church of Woburn, Mass., Silver Collection will be sold at the James D. Julia’s annual summer Antique, Asian and Fine Art auction on Aug. 21-23, 2013. For more information about this auction, visit the James D. Julia, Inc., website.


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