Presentation Pieces in the Museum of History and Technology
by Margaret Brown Klapthor
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Transcriber's note:

Superscripted test is preceded by a carat character, such as 2^nd.

Text in italics is enclosed by underscores (italics).

Text in bold face is enclosed by equal signs (bold).

A more detailed transcriber's note is at the end of the e-book.

Contributions from the Museum of History and Technology: Paper 47—






Miniature ship presented to Adm. Robert E. Peary 81

Snuffbox inlaid with mother-of-pearl and horn made around 1769 83

Mark of Samuel Minott and monogram of Elias Hasket Derby on silver tankard 83

Punch set presented to Col. George Armistead 85

Tureen presented to Com. John Rodgers 87

Gold snuffbox presented to Maj. Gen. Jacob Brown 88

Peace pipe presented to the Delaware Indians by Gen. William Henry Harrison 89

Silver service given to Maj. Gen. John Hatch 90

Silver service presented to Gen. Judson Kilpatrick 92

Silver service presented to Mrs. Abraham Lincoln 93

Teakettle and stand given to Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs 93

Gold box presented to Cyrus W. Field 95

Silver-mounted tankard presented to Cyrus W. Field 95

Tray and saltcellar in shape of chair presented to Gustavus Vasa Fox 97

Centerpiece given to Adm. Winfield Scott Schley 101

Cup presented to the Honorable Brand Whitlock 103

Paperweight identical to those presented by William Jennings Bryan 103

Cup given to Susan B. Anthony 105

Belt given to H. W. Higham 107

The Vanderbilt Cup 107

Trowel used by President Ulysses S. Grant 108

Margaret Brown Klapthor

Presentation Pieces In the Museum of History and Technology

As a social document, the collection of presentation pieces, mostly silver, in the United States National Museum provides evidence of the taste and craftsmanship in America at various periods from the mid-18th century to the 1920's.

Although the representative items selected for illustration confirm the view that such pieces often lack artistic merit, the collection nevertheless reveals the deeds—in war, politics, technology, diplomacy, sports—that our forebears deemed worthy of special recognition. And it helps to bring alive some figures now submerged in our ever-expanding history.

THE AUTHOR: Margaret Brown Klapthor is associate curator of political history in the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of History and Technology.

The custom of giving a piece of silver to an individual in recognition of service or in appreciation of accomplishment probably began as soon as man developed the fashioning of that metal into objects. Such a presentation piece was a tangible and durable form of recognition which could be appreciated, used, displayed, and enjoyed by the recipient. Many of these silver pieces became for succeeding generations the cherished evidence of recognition accorded to an ancestor, and they were preserved long after the more customary family silver had worn out or been lost.

The Smithsonian Institution's Museum of History and Technology has what may well be the most varied and extensive collection of such presentation pieces ever to be preserved and exhibited in one place. The collection contains the work of some of the more prominent American silversmiths, but most of the pieces are by lesser known makers and are in the collection because of historic interest rather than artistic merit. The chief usefulness of the collection lies in its value as a social document and in the mute evidence it gives of the taste and craftsmanship of the periods covered. The collection is also helpful in dating type specimens that do not have specific associations with persons and dates. Perhaps even more interesting than the gamut of styles that the collection presents is the panorama of deeds, events, and persons that our forebears considered worthy of recognition. Silver presentation pieces were awarded to persons in almost every walk of life—to military men, to peace-loving Indians, and to men who achieved success in politics and agriculture. They were given for sea rescues, for heroic deeds by firemen and school-patrol boys, and for outstanding community and civic work. Within our time they have been given as trophies for excellence in athletics, automobile racing, and many other events.

18th-Century Pieces

Silversmiths have been making presentation pieces from the earliest days of our country, but the Smithsonian Institution has only a few 18th-century pieces in its collection.

The earliest of these is an inlaid silver snuffbox (fig. 2) made by William Cario, who worked in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, about 1763. The oval box—evidently a gift to the silversmith's second wife, Lydia Croxford, whom he married in 1768—has inscribed on its base "The property of Lydia Cario" and "1769." The cover has an undersurface of horn, and the silver on the outer surface is inlaid with mother-of-pearl and tortoise shell in a filigree pattern.

Many of the earliest pieces of presentation silver were made for use in churches, and they were given by groups as well as by individuals. Representative of this type is a silver alms plate[1] with the following inscription on the rim:

The Gift of the Hon^ble THOMAS HANCOCK ESQ^R to the CHURCH in Brattle Street Boston 1764.

The plate is shallow with a slightly domed center. Engraved on the flat rim, in addition to the inscription, is a crest at the top and the cherub's head at the bottom. The piece is marked by John Coburn, who lived in Boston from 1725 to 1803. Five trays matching this one are in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.[2]

A silver tankard made by Samuel Minott, who worked in Boston from about 1765 to 1803, can be accurately placed by the account of ownership thoughtfully inscribed on its base by one of its later owners. The legend reads:

Richard Derby to E. S. Hasket Derby 1763 John Derby George Derby 1831 Roger Derby 1874

The tankard has a tapered, ringed body, an S-shaped handle with a plain boss at the end, a scroll thumb-piece, a flat molded drop ornament on the handle, and a domed cover with an acorn finial. On the body beneath the Derby coat of arms, is monogrammed "E H D" for Elias Hasket Derby (fig. 3). Elias Hasket Derby achieved wealth and fame as a Salem merchant prince engaged in the China trade.

Similar in design to these 18th-century pieces is a standing cup[3] or chalice with the inscription:

Presented by the Sisters of the New South Church for its communion service—January 1, 1815.

This cup, with a concave body and a baluster stem with a square foot, is marked "Moulton" and is in the style of Ebenezer Moulton who worked in Boston between 1768 and 1824.

19th-Century Pieces

The collections of the United States National Museum that cover the political, cultural, military, and technological history of America in the 19th century are probably without rival, and the collection of presentation silver is no exception. The recognition of military prowess by the presentation of silver objects was especially popular during this century.


Some handsome pieces of silver of the federal style were given for service in the War of 1812. Historically the most important of these is a mammoth punch set (fig. 4) presented to Colonel George Armistead by the citizens of Baltimore in recognition of his services in the defense of Fort McHenry against the British attack in 1814. The service includes an oval silver tray with a handle on each end, the whole of which is supported on six winged-claw feet. The tray is 29 inches long and 22 inches wide.

The ball-shaped punch bowl, 12-1/2 inches in diameter, is supported by four eagles mounted on a round base. There is a loop handle of silver rope on each side. The bowl is an exact copy in size and design of the mortar bombs the British hurled at the fort. On one side of the bowl is the following inscription:

Presented by a number of the citizens of Baltimore to Lieutenant Colonel George Armistead for his gallant and successful defense of Fort McHenry during the bombardment by a large British Force, on the 12th and 13th September 1814 when upwards of 1500 shells were thrown; 400 of which fell within the area of the Fort and some of them of the diameter of this vase.

(Note the discrepancy in the dates of the inscription. The Battle of Fort McHenry was fought on the 13th and 14th of September 1814.)

On the other side is engraved a view of Fort McHenry and Baltimore Harbor. The bowl is marked by Thomas Fletcher and Sidney Gardiner, silversmiths who worked in Philadelphia from 1814 to 1838. In regard to the excellence of the work of these silversmiths, there is an interesting comment in a diary of Philip Hone that is owned by the New-York Historical Society. On February 14, 1838, Hone wrote:

Fletcher and Co. are the artist who made the Clinton vases. Nobody in this "world" of ours hereabouts can compete with them in their kind of work.[4]

In the set are ten silver cups, each 3-1/4 inches high and 3 inches in diameter. The cups have the same rounded shape as the bowl, without the loop handles, and are marked on the bottom by Andrew E. Warner, a silversmith who was working in Baltimore from 1805 until his death in 1870.

The ladle, in the same shape as the cups, is also marked by Warner.

During the defense of Fort McHenry Colonel Armistead had under him about 1,000 men, including soldiers, sailors, and volunteers. It is said he was the only man aware of the alarming fact that the powder magazine was not bombproof. During the night of September 13 the fort was under constant bombardment by the enemy, but the attack failed. Discouraged by the loss of the British general in land action, and finding that the shallow water and sunken ships prevented a close approach to the city by water, the British fleet withdrew. Fort McHenry was but little damaged and loss of life was small.

Closely related to this punch set is a covered tureen (fig. 5) that the citizens of Baltimore gave to Commodore John Rodgers, U.S.N., for his part in the defense of Baltimore in September 1814. During the battle of North Point and the attack on Fort McHenry, the naval forces under Commodore Rodgers defended the water battery, the auxiliary forts Covington and Babcock, and the barges of the naval flotilla.

The oval-shaped tureen is mounted on a square base that stands on four winged feet. The piece is 15 inches high. The handles at each end are supported by eagles' heads. An applied design of flying horses and winged cherub heads makes an attractive border around the edge of the tureen. The knob on the cover of the tureen is a stylized bunch of grapes. On the inside of the bottom of the base is inscribed:

Presented by the citizens of Baltimore to Commodore John Rodgers in testimony of their sense of the important aid afforded by him in the defense of Baltimore on the 12th and 13th of Sept'^r, 1814.

This piece too bears the mark of Philadelphia silversmiths Fletcher and Gardiner.

The gold snuffbox presented to Major General Jacob Brown by the City of New York in recognition of his services in the War of 1812 does not fall strictly within the province of this article, but it is included because it is similar to the silver pieces just described. The exterior of the box (fig. 6) is beautifully chased in a line design. The inside of the lid is inscribed as follows:

The Corporation of the City of New York to Major General Jacob Brown in testimony of the high sense they entertain of his valor and skill in defeating the British forces superior in number, at the battles of Chippewa and Bridgewater on the 5th and 25th of July, 1814.


Unusual in the Museum's collection of presentation silver is the treaty pipe (fig. 7) formally presented to the Delaware Indians in 1814 by General William Henry Harrison at the conclusion of the second Treaty of Greenville.

The treaty was intended to commit the Indians to active resistance in the American cause during the War of 1812. General Harrison and Lewis Cass had been appointed commissioners by the U.S. Government to conclude the treaty. On July 8, 1814, General Harrison read to the Indians a message from the President of the United States, and afterward he presented to the Wyandotte, Delaware, and Shawnee Indian tribes large silver pipes elegantly ornamented and engraved with emblems signifying the protection and friendship of the United States.[5]

The pipe presented to the Delaware Indians has an urn-shaped bowl with a bead-edged cover bearing acanthus-leaf decorations. The S-shaped stem is 21 inches long and only one-fourth inch in diameter. The great length of the stem was necessary to cool the smoke; the S-shape added rigidity to the silver. The piece undoubtedly is the work of a competent craftsman but it bears no identifying mark.[6]

Although not exactly a pipe of peace, another pipe in the collections of the Museum represents a gesture of friendship between nations. It is a meerschaum pipe[7] with a silver lid on the bowl and with a silver mouthpiece. The lid bears this inscription:

This pipe was presented to Sir Frederick Hankey by the Grand Vizier of Turkey at Constantinople in the year 1830 and to Thomas Hankey Esq^re by the Daughter of Sir Frederick and by him to Charles Alexander Esq^re 9th March, 1873.

The only information that has been obtained about Hankey is that he held an official position as Chief Secretary of Malta for the British Government.


In 1838 the Whig Young Men of New York City presented to Robert Charles Wetmore a pair of large, ornate, silver pitchers[8] inscribed:

To Robert Charles Wetmore their late Chairman from the General Committee of Whig Young Men of the City of New York a Memorial of political fellowship, a token of personal esteem and a tribute of patriotic service 1838.

The bases of the pitchers are engraved:

Presented to Chas Fredk Wetmore by his father, January 1st, 1840.

These pitchers were made by Geradus Boyce, a New York silversmith who worked in the first half of the 19th century.


Most of these pieces, like the pitchers mentioned above, are not as pleasing aesthetically as the earlier ones, and they are much more closely allied with the exuberance of the Victorian era than they are with the classical lines of the Federal period.

A large, elaborate vase[9] with two handles and a cover was presented to Major General Silas Casey, U.S.A., in recognition of his services during the Mexican War. The vase is inscribed:

To Capt. Silas Casey, 2 inf. U.S.A. For his bravery and skill at Contreras, Churubusco and other battles of Mexico; for his gallant leading of the storming party of Regulars at Chapultepec where he was severely wounded. The gift of citizens of his native town and others, E. Greenwich, Rhode Island, August 1848.

The vase is marked on the bottom with box-enclosed letters "G & H" and "1848." The letters probably refer to Gale and Hughes, New York silversmiths, or perhaps to Gale and Hayden, who were in business about the same time.

Casey, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, received votes of thanks from the Rhode Island legislature for his services in both the Mexican and Civil Wars.

Lieutenant Colonel John Bankhead Magruder was given a silver pitcher by his friends in Baltimore for his Mexican War service. The pitcher[10] is urn-shaped, has a long, narrow neck, and stands on a tall base. The entire pitcher is elaborate repousse in a design of roses, sunflowers, and grapes. An arched and turreted castle is depicted on each side, and on the center front is the inscription:

Presented to Lt. Col. J. Bankhead Magruder by his Baltimore friends as a token of their appreciation of his Meritorious Services in the Mexican War, October 16, 1849.

On the inside of the base are the marks "S. Kirk & Son" and "11 oz."

Magruder graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1830, and his military career encompassed service under three flags within a period of 35 years. In the Mexican War he was brevetted major for gallantry at Cerro Gordo and lieutenant colonel for Chapultepec, where he was severely wounded. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Colonel Magruder, a native of Virginia, entered the Confederate Army and was soon placed in command of the Department of Texas, where he served until the close of the war. He then entered the army of Maximilian in Mexico as major general and was in active service until Maximilian's capture and execution. When he returned to the United States he settled in Houston and died there in 1871.

A silver service (fig. 8) consisting of four goblets, pitcher, and tray, presented to Brevet Major General John Porter Hatch, U.S. Volunteers, is interesting because it was given in recognition of services during the Mexican War, the Indian expeditions of 1857-1859, and the Civil War. The gift is from Hatch's fellow citizens of Oswego, New York.

The silver tray measures 15 by 20 inches and is decorated with four small waterscapes and a flower design. It is raised on four short scroll feet. The inscription reads:

Genl. John Porter Hatch Presented by Citizens of Oswego, Jany 1863

The pitcher (14 inches high and 7 inches in diameter) has a design of grapevines and birds. The spout is in the form of a face, and the handle represents entwined vines. It is inscribed:

Presented by citizens of Oswego, N.Y. to their esteemed fellow citizen Genl. John Porter Hatch as a testimonial of their appreciation of the gallantry and heroism displayed by him in the service of his country especially on the battle fields of Mexico and in the Army of the Potomac Jany 1863.

The mark is "Tiffany & Co., 7899, G. & W., English Sterling 925-1000, 550 Broadway N.Y."

The four silver goblets are also decorated with grape vines and birds, and they have gilt interiors. They are 8 inches high and 3-1/4 inches in diameter. Each goblet has the inscription:

Testimonial of the Citizens of Oswego, N.Y. to Genl. John P. Hatch, Jan. 1863.

Below this inscription each goblet is marked with one of the following:

Mexico 1846-7 New Mexico 1857-8-9 Shenandoah Valley, May 25, 1862 South Mountain, Sep. 14, 1862

Each goblet is marked "Tiffany & Co."

Hatch graduated from the Academy in 1845 and immediately saw active service in the Mexican War. He fought not only in General Taylor's campaign in northern Mexico but also in General Scott's campaign to capture Mexico City. In the years intervening before the Civil War he saw active service in Indian campaigns and took part in a number of scouting expeditions. With the outbreak of the Civil War he was assigned with the Volunteers in the Army of the Potomac until he was severely wounded at South Mountain, for which action he received the Congressional Medal of Honor. He spent the rest of the Civil War on duty behind the lines where he was in command of various districts in the Department of the South following Sherman's campaign.

The largest and most elaborate set of presentation silver in the Museum is a complete table service (fig. 9) that was given to General Judson Kilpatrick by the Veterans Association of Connecticut on the occasion of his marriage to a Chilean in 1868 while he was serving as U.S. Minister to Chile. The set is engraved with emblems of the United States, Chile, the U.S. Army, and the U.S. Navy. The monograms on the individual pieces are in gold of four colors. More than any other silver service in the Museum this one may be said to epitomize the elaborate realism so popular during the height of the Victorian era.

The pieces are marked "Meriden B * Company *" in a circle around a shield surmounted by balanced scales. This mark was used in the second half of the 19th century by the Meriden Britannia Company for its high-grade, silver-plated hollow-ware made on a base of silver nickel.[11]

There are two trays in the set. The smaller tray is shown in figure 9. The larger one measures 22-1/2 inches by 38 inches and is inscribed:

The Veteran Soldiers of Connecticut to Kilpatrick

It is engraved in gold and silver with flags of the United States and Chile crossed with bayonets and spears. On one side there is a center medallion in gold with the monogram "L V K" (for Luisa V. Kilpatrick) in a circle surmounted on a shield of stars and stripes. Above the monogram there is a banner with three stars and a triangle. On the other side of the standing piece two eagles in fighting position are shown in front of a sunburst design. The United States flag can be seen directly behind the victorious eagle. The motto "Tuebor" is at the top of the sunburst. The entire design is encircled by a ring of stars, and there is a shield of stars and stripes at the top. This same design is repeated on all 40 pieces.

The service contains napkin rings, vegetable dishes, syrup jar, spoon holder, large centerpiece, porcelain-lined pitcher, and other miscellaneous pieces of silver used for table service. The pieces of the tea and coffee service are mounted on four feet that are fastened to the bowl with cattle heads with branched horns. Each foot stands on a cloven hoof. The knob of each of the pots is a tiny horse jumping over a four-bar hurdle.

One of the most interesting military presentation pieces in the collection is a silver and copper shield presented to Lieutenant General Nelson A. Miles, U.S. Army, by the officers of the 5th Infantry Regiment. General Miles served for many years as colonel of the regiment and led it in a number of notable Indian engagements. Beginning in 1869 his regiment defeated the Cheyenne, Kiowa, Comanche, Sioux, Nez Perce, and Bannock Indians, and, in 1886, after a long and difficult campaign, Miles compelled the surrender of the Apaches under Geronimo and Natchez.

The heart-shaped shield[12] is surrounded by a rolled edge made of copper which originally had a gold wash. Inscribed on the inside of the rolled edge are the names "New Mexico," "Kansas," "Wyoming," "Montana," "Dakota," "Colorado," "Indian Territory," and "Texas." A profile portrait of General Miles, in relief, is suspended from an eagle's beak in the center, and below are the crossed weapons of the U.S. Army and the Indians surmounted by a peace pipe.

The background of the shield is silver with etched scenes depicting incidents of the career of General Miles in the states named. The scenes depicted are of a buffalo hunt, a covered wagon on the trail, wild horses with Indian tepees in the background, an Army council of war, General Miles receiving the surrender of Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Indians, and a peaceful agricultural scene.

The plaque is inscribed as follows:

Presented to General Nelson A. Miles, U.S. Army, by the officers of the fifth U.S. Infantry. As a token of personal esteem and their estimate of his distinguished services in which unequaled successes over savages in war were paralleled by humanity and justice towards the thousands of Indians whom he took captive and instructed in the Arts of Civilization.

The plaque, measuring 18-1/2 by 23 inches overall, is marked "Tiffany & Co., 6565. Makers 2, Sterling Silver, 926-1000 and Other Metals, M."

General Miles was colonel of the 5th Infantry Regiment for so many years that a modification of his family crest was selected as the crest on the coat of arms of the regiment. The Miles family crest is an arm in armor grasping an anchor. Arrows for each Indian campaign in which the regiment took part are substituted for the anchor in the regimental crest.[13]


The Museum recently received a silver service (fig. 10) that belonged to Mary Todd Lincoln. The service consists of a large oval tray, a hot-water urn on a stand with a burner, coffeepot, teapot, hot-water pot, cream pitcher, sugar urn, and waste bowl. All the pieces have an overall repousse floral and strapwork pattern with the monogram "MTL" on one side and an engraved crest on the other. The crest seems to be an adaptation of the Todd family crest. The pieces are marked with a lion, an anchor, and an old English "G," which are the early marks of the Gorham Silver Company. It is assumed that this silver service was a presentation gift to Mrs. Lincoln during the time she was First Lady of the White House, as a letter dated July 19, 1876, from her to her son Robert Todd Lincoln calls his attention to a silver service in his possession that was a gift to her from "the Citizens of New York."


By far the most fanciful of all the mid-19th-century pieces is the silver teakettle and stand (fig. 11) given to General Montgomery C. Meigs by the citizens of Washington for his work on the Washington Aqueduct. The kettle, 18 inches high, is mounted on a base that is 8-1/2 inches square and 3-1/4 inches high. The base is made in the shape of the stone arches of the aqueduct, and the head of George Washington, in profile, is depicted on the center front. There is a depression in the top of the base for holding a small alcohol lamp. Four rocks, one on each corner of the base, provide support for the kettle. The kettle's feet, in the form of fish, rest on the rocks and are fastened to them with hinges held by a chain and silver pin. The pins can be released so that the kettle can be tilted for pouring without moving it from the base. By withdrawing all four pins, the kettle can be completely detached from the base. The body of the kettle is decorated with nautical designs—waves, fish, shells, etc.—and cattails and lily pads. Under the spout is an anchor entwined with a fish over the initial "M." A belt ornamented with stars encloses the castellated towers of the Army Engineers symbol with the letters "U," "S," and "E" on one side of the kettle. On the other side is the inscription:

Presented to Captain Montgomery C. Meigs U.S. Engineers by the Corporation of Washington with a Resolution of Thanks approved 12th March 1853 for his Report on the Washington Aqueduct.

The handle of the kettle is in the form of a serpent's tail, and the spout is the serpent's open mouth. The lid is a nautilus shell on which stands an eagle with raised wings. On one side of the base is inscribed:

Presented 9th June 1854 by John W. Maury—Mayor, Joseph Borrows of B^d Ald., A. W. Miller of B^d Com. C. Committee of the Corporation.

The piece is marked "M. W. Galt & Bro.," a firm established in Washington in 1802 that has been in continuous business since that time.

Montgomery Cunningham Meigs graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1836 and was soon assigned to the Engineer Corps. Thereafter, for a quarter of a century his outstanding talents were devoted to many important engineering projects. His favorite was the construction of the Washington Aqueduct, which carried a large part of Washington's water supply from the Great Falls of the Potomac to the city. This work, under his direction between 1852 and 1860, involved devising ingenious methods of controlling the flow and distribution of the water and also the design of a monumental bridge across the Cabin John Branch—a bridge that for 50 years was the longest masonry arch in the world. At the same time Meigs was supervising the building of wings and a new dome on the Capitol and an extension on the General Post Office Building.

During the Civil War, Meigs served as quartermaster general, and in 1864 he was brevetted major general. As quartermaster general he supervised plans for the War Department Building, 1866-1867; the National Museum Building, 1876; and an extension of the Washington Aqueduct, 1876.

After his retirement, in 1882, General Meigs became architect of the Pension Office Building. He served as a regent of the Smithsonian Institution, was a member of the American Philosophical Society, and one of the earliest members of the National Academy of Sciences.

General Meigs himself gave the Museum this interesting piece of presentation silver. He also gave the previously described tureen (fig. 5) that had belonged to Commodore John Rodgers, who was General Meigs' father-in-law.

Cyrus W. Field became interested in the idea of a cable across the Atlantic between Newfoundland and Ireland in 1854. It was not a new idea, and other shorter submarine cables had been successful, but this was the first time a transatlantic cable had been promoted by a man of Field's business ability and financial standing. Through his efforts, a governmental charter was secured and a company of prominent New Yorkers was formed to underwrite the venture. An unsuccessful attempt to lay the cable was made by the company in 1857. Field tried again in 1858; on the fourth attempt he was successful and immediately acclaimed as the "genius of the age."

New York greeted Field with wild rejoicing, and the city authorities set September 1, 1858, as a day of celebration to give him an official public ovation. The celebration surpassed anything the city had ever before witnessed. Mr. Field and the officers of the cable fleet landed at Castle Garden and received a national salute. From there the procession progressed through crowded and gaily decorated streets to the crowd-filled Crystal Palace, where an address was given on the history of the cable. Then the mayor of New York gave an address honoring Mr. Field and presented him with a gold box stating:

The municipal government of this city instructs me to present to you a gold box with the arms of the city engraved thereon, in testimony of the fact that to you mainly, under Divine Providence, the world is indebted for the successful execution of the grandest enterprise of our day and generation; and in behalf of the Mayor, Aldermen and Commonalty of the City of New York I now request your acceptance of this token of their approbation.

The gold box (fig. 12) presented to Field by the City of New York is in the collections of the United States National Museum.[14] It measures 4-1/2 inches by 3 inches. On the lid and around an engraved representation of the cable fleet is inscribed:

The City of New York to Cyrus W. Field

The sides of the box are engraved with vignettes depicting the landing of the cable, the planning group at work, science and industry united, and Europe and America united. The bottom is engraved with the American eagle and the British shield. The inside lid of the box is inscribed:

The City of New York to Cyrus W. Field commemorating his skill, fortitude and perseverance in originating and completing the first enterprise for an ocean telegraph successfully accomplished Aug. 5, 1858 uniting Europe and America.

Significant of the enthusiasm with which Field was greeted in 1858 is a silver-mounted tankard, made from the wood of the Charter Oak, that was given to him in December by the workmen of Central Park. On August 18, seemingly without advance publicity or elaborate preparations, there was a parade on Broadway of the workmen of Central Park. The procession was headed by a squad of policemen in full uniform, a band, and a standard bearer with a muslin banner inscribed "The Central Park People." The men marched in squads of four, and wore their everyday work clothes with evergreens stuck in their hats. Each squad carried a banner giving the name of its boss-workman. The procession included four-horse teams drawing wagons in which rode the workmen of the Engineers' Department. The parade was composed of 1,100 laborers and 800 carts from Central Park and 700 laborers and carts from the new Croton Reservoir, making a procession three miles long. Since it was altogether unexpected, it created no little excitement and inquiry.[15]

The tankard (fig. 13) has a silver spout inscribed:

The Oak of this Tankard is a part of the tree in which was preserved the Charter of the Liberties of the People of Connecticut during a temporary success of tyranny A.D. 1687.

There is a silver shield on the left side with the monogram "C. W. F." and a silver shield on the right inscribed:

The men, working in the Central Park Aug^st 17^th 1858 Present this tankard to Cyrus W. Field, as an expression of their respect, for the untiring labor which on that Day resulted in proving the practicability of Trans-Atlantic Communication, by the Electric Telegraph.

The knob on the lid is made of silver and is decorated with an anchor and a rope in silver. No maker's mark is discernible.

While the public adulation was at its peak the cable suddenly stopped working. Immediately public opinion changed and Field was accused of being a fake. He suffered severe business reverses and in 1860 went into bankruptcy. The outbreak of the Civil War prevented any further activity on the cable until 1865. Field engaged the world's largest steamer, the Great Eastern, to make the next attempt. The cable of 1865 parted in midocean during the laying operations, but in 1866 experience and technical improvements won the fight. The cable was laid and this time it continued to operate.

Again Field was the darling of the American people and he was greeted with enthusiasm. Immediately on his return to New York in 1866 he sold enough of his cable stock to enable him early in November to write to those who had been hurt by his bankruptcy in 1860 and send to each the full amount of his indebtedness with 7 percent interest. The full amount paid out reached about $200,000. For this action George Peabody of New York City gave Field a silver service.

The silver cake basket[16] from this service is in the United States National Museum. The shallow basket is on a pedestal with handles on each side. The inside of the basket is gilded. Inscribed on a plaque on one side is:

George Peabody to Cyrus W. Field in testimony and commemoration of an act of very high Commercial integrity and honor, New York, 24 Nov. 1866.

The inside of the foot of the basket is marked with the lion, anchor, and "G" of the Gorham Silver Company.

Field continued to be active in many business enterprises but the last years of his life were again beset with severe financial difficulties. He and his wife celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 1890, and in honor of this occasion their children presented them with a silver gilt vase.[17] The vase contains a portion of the first Atlantic cable mounted in the base, a part of the steamship Great Eastern, by which the cable was laid, and the inscribed names of all the Field's children and grandchildren. It is marked "Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver, M."


In January 1861, Dr. Samuel Lilly, physician, politician, and judge, was sent to British India as consul general from the United States. Dr. Lilly had been elected a representative to the 33d Congress as a Whig, and he served from 1853 to 1855. He also served as a judge of various lower courts in New Jersey. On his appointment as consul general he was given a silver goblet[18] 8 inches tall and 4-1/4 inches in diameter, having an embossed design of fruits, nuts, and flowers. On the goblet is inscribed:

A Testimonial of Respect and Esteem Presented to Hon. Samuel Lilly by a few of his Fellow Citizens without distinction of Party; on the eve of his departure for Calcutta as Consul-General to British India January 29, 1861.

The inside of the stem is marked with the lion, anchor, and "G" of the Gorham Silver Company, the word "coin," and the figure "8."

When Dr. Lilly left India in 1862 he was given a silver pitcher and a silver tray.[19] The pitcher (13 inches high and 7-1/2 inches in diameter) has a tall, slender neck with a decided downturn to the pouring lip and a hinged lid with a thistle flower as a knob. The neck is engraved on each side with a design of grape leaves and grapes. The bowl of the pitcher has eight panels embossed with scrolls of vines and flowers. Both the tray and the pitcher are marked "Allen and Hayes." One side is engraved:

To the Hon. Samuel Lilly, M.D.

The other side is engraved:

By the American Merchants in Calcutta July 1862.

The silver tray (18 inches in diameter) has a scroll-leaf and flower design in relief around the edge. The scroll-leaf design is repeated on the surface. The tray is inscribed as follows:

Presented to the Hon. Samuel Lilly M.D. by the American Merchants Resident in Calcutta as a token of regard and acknowledgment of the creditable manner with which he has upheld the dignity of the office and executed the duties appertaining to the post of Consul-General of the United States of America in British India, Calcutta, July 4th, 1862.

American interest in European affairs, considerably increased by the middle of the century, is also reflected in the collection. In 1866 the life of the Czar of Russia was saved from a Nihilist's bullet by the brave action of one of the serfs who had recently been emancipated by royal decree. Czar Alexander II was well liked by his own people and was regarded as an enlightened ruler by the other nations of the West. He was especially respected in the United States because of the open support he gave to the Union side during the Civil War. His escape from death was a cause for official rejoicing in this country, and the Congress of the United States passed a resolution of congratulations on the deliverance of the life of the Czar and commissioned Gustavus Vasa Fox, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, to deliver it to the Czar. Fox set out for Europe in one of the newly designed Monitor ships that had proved so effective in naval fighting during the Civil War. His Monitor was escorted by other ships of the fleet with a large delegation of naval officers. The party was greeted by the Russians with great acclaim, and it was showered with gifts and honors. Many of the interesting items given to Fox personally were bequeathed to the United States National Museum by his widow, Mrs. V. L. W. Fox (accession 50021, Division of Political History). Among these objects are a silver tray (fig. 14), a silver saltcellar in the shape of a chair (fig. 14), and a gold snuffbox.

The tray and saltcellar were presented to Fox on the estate of Prince Galitzine, one of the wealthiest members of the Russian nobility. These two items bear the marks of a Russian maker and are engraved "July 5, 1864," which date marked the coming-of-age of the Prince. On August 26, shortly after the American delegation arrived in Russia, Fox and his party drove to the beautiful Galitzine estate, about 12 miles from Moscow. The members of the party were met by the Prince and went with him to a part of the park where a deputation of peasants awaited them. Leader of the peasant group was the mayor of the neighboring village, an emancipated serf, who presented Fox with bread and salt—traditional symbols of Russian hospitality—on a silver salver and said:

We wish to tell the envoy that we are come to congratulate him on his arrival, and to present him with bread and salt and also to say that we love him, and that we shall remember the love of his people for our country and our sovereign.[20]

Two days later, on August 28, Fox met Prince Gortchakoff by appointment at the foreign office. After various complimentary allusions to the manner in which Mr. Fox had performed the delicate duties entrusted to him by his government, the Prince, in the name of the Emperor, presented a gold snuffbox set with diamonds.[21] The box, exquisitely chased, had the Emperor's miniature on the top surrounded by 26 diamonds. Six larger diamonds were set three on each side at equal distances from the inner circle. The Emperor was pictured in full military uniform with various orders on his breast.[22] The snuffbox minus its decorations is part of the Gustavus Vasa Fox collection in the Museum. The precious stones on the lid and the miniature in the center were bequeathed by Mrs. Fox to various members of the family when the box (cat. 11268) was willed to the Museum.

A large and elaborate silver vase was presented by the members of the U.S. Life-Saving Service to Mrs. Samuel S. Cox in honor of the outstanding work of her husband, who as a congressman supported various bills for the improvement of the Service. Mr. Cox served as Congressman for 20 years, first from Ohio and later from New York State. He died in New York City in 1889. Two years later General Superintendent S. I. Kimball, in behalf of a committee representing the Service, presented the vase to Mrs. Cox. The ceremony took place at Mrs. Cox's home in Washington on December 12, 1891, in the presence of a gathering of relatives and friends.

The vase[23] is 2 feet tall and 2 feet 1 inch in diameter; it weighs almost 8 pounds. Its design was selected by a subcommittee appointed by the Life-Saving Service, and the job was awarded to the Gorham Silver Company. The chasing is entirely the work of one man. The base of the vase has a design of clusters of acorns and oak leaves, and above these are dolphins sporting in billowing waves. The body of the vase begins with wide flutings between the tops of which are shells and seaweed. These are surrounded by a ring of marine cable. On the front, a scene represents the lifesavers at work. In perspective some distance out, where the sea rises in mountainous waves, there is a wrecked vessel, and in the foreground lifesavers are carrying the rescued to the beach. The ornamentation that covers the top of the body of the vase consists of a cable net in which are starfish, seaweed, and other marine flora and fauna. A ledge formed by a ship's chain surmounts the net, and above this is a profile of Mr. Cox circled with laurel. A lifebuoy crossed with a boat hook and oar ornaments the other side. Handles at the sides are two mermaids who with bowed heads and curved bodies hold in their upraised hands sea plants growing from the side of the top of the vase. The mermaids are the only portion of the ornamentation that was cast.

The vase is inscribed as follows:

This Memorial Vase is presented to Mrs. Samuel S. Cox by the members of The Life-Saving Service of the United States in Grateful Remembrance of the tireless and successful efforts of her Distinguished husband The Honorable Samuel Sullivan Cox to promote the interests and advance the efficiency and glory of the Life-Saving Service.

He was its early and constant friend; Its earnest and eloquent advocate; Its fearless and faithful Champion.

I have spent the best part of my life in the public service; most of it has been like writing in water. The reminiscences of party wrangling and political strife seem to me like nebulae of the past, without form and almost void. But what little I have accomplished in connection with this Life-Saving Service is compensation "sweeter than the honey in the honeycomb." It is its own exceeding great reward.[24]

Tangible evidence of the increased role that the United States was beginning to play in international affairs is a silver pitcher and salver[25] presented to Judge George S. Batcheller in appreciation of his services as president of the International Postal Congress, which was held in Washington, D.C., in 1897. Judge Batcheller's international career began when President Ulysses Grant appointed him as the U.S. judge in the newly created International Tribunal for legal administration of Egypt. The Tribunal had jurisdiction in cases between foreigners of different nationalities and also in cases of foreigners versus Egyptians. Batcheller later served as minister to Portugal and then as manager of European interests for various American companies.

The International Postal Congress presented Judge Batcheller, its presiding officer, with a handsome urn-shaped pitcher with the following inscription engraved on the center front:

Le Congres postal de Washington a son President le General George S. Batcheller Juin 1897.

The pitcher, 14-1/4 inches high, is marked inside the base "Galt & Bros., Sterling, 925—0—1879, 277, 7-1/2 pts." The "925" is circled, and the date is boxed. Accompanying the pitcher is a silver tray with the monogram "G S B" in script in the center. The tray is marked on the back with an eagle in a circle to the left, an "A" in a shield in the center, and a hammer and sickle in a circle to the right (an unidentified mark).

20th-Century Pieces


One of the most controversial figures of the Spanish-American War is represented in the Museum's collection of some of the silver that was presented to Rear Admiral Winfield Scott Schley.[26] Schley became a national hero primarily because of his genial personality, and he was acclaimed and supported by the masses of the American public even while his claims to fame were being challenged by his colleagues.

Admiral Schley had already had a long and illustrious naval career before the outbreak of the war with Spain. After his graduation from the Naval Academy in 1860, he served on board the frigate Niagara when it was detailed to bring to the United States the first representatives from Japan to this country. As a junior naval officer he took part in the Civil War engagements leading up to the capture of Port Hudson. Then followed a period with sea duty and alternate posts ashore at the Naval Academy and elsewhere. During this period he took part in the capture of some Korean forts in 1871, and later he commanded the relief expedition that rescued the Arctic explorer Lieutenant Adolphus W. Greeley and six of his companions near Cape Sabine, when they were near death, and brought them safely home after a perilous voyage through 1,400 miles of ice.

The controversial period of Schley's career began with his appointment to command the Flying Squadron, stationed at Hampton Roads at the opening of the Spanish-American War, with the arrangement that should his squadron operate with the Atlantic Squadron in the West Indies, he would be under its senior officer, William T. Sampson. Since Sampson was junior to Schley in rank, this led to the famous Sampson-Schley controversy of the war. Despite his orders to blockade Santiago immediately, Schley took his time getting there with his squadron, and then he failed to establish a close blockade. During the month-long blockade in which the two squadrons were joined, matters were strained between the commands. Sampson was in conference about seven miles east of Santiago when the Spanish fleet finally emerged from the harbor. Schley immediately seized full command of the battle despite Sampson's proximity and his prompt return to action.

The press, probably influenced by his likable personality, made a hero of Schley, but his fellow naval officers felt differently. A court of inquiry held in 1901 found Schley to be at fault, but despite this decision he retained his public popularity, a tribute to his affability and bluff, hearty manner.

The many pieces in the Museum's collection of presentation silver given to Schley not only attest the recipient's popularity but seem to express the poor taste, debased design, and stereotyped workmanship that was characteristic at the beginning of the 20th century.

Not just one presentation piece but an entire silver service was made from Spanish coins recovered from the Cristobal Colon that was sunk at Santiago. The original service consisted of 69 pieces, of which the Museum has the table centerpiece, soup tureen and ladle, fish platter, and a vegetable dish (cat. 39554).

The centerpiece, measuring 14 by 30 by 8 inches, is designed with a circular base holding four classical female figures. On each side of the base is a shallow silver dish shaped like a seashell and supported by dolphins. A shield on one side of the base bears the following inscription:

This service made of Spanish coins recovered from the Cristobal Colon sunk in the battle off Santiago de Cuba July 3, 1898 is presented to Rear Admiral Winfield Scott Schley by his friends in loving appreciation of his heroic services to his country.

An eagle ornaments the opposite side of the base.

The covered oval soup tureen (7 inches by 13-1/4 inches; cat. 39555) bears the same inscription as the centerpiece and is marked "S. Kirk & Son Co." The cover, monogrammed "W S S," has a rather effective design of overlapped laurel leaves with clusters of berries. The ladle (14 inches long; cat. 39556) is monogrammed "W S S" on the bowl (4 inches in diameter), and it has the same design as the tureen.

The fish platter (25 inches by 13 inches; cat. 39557) is similar to the tureen in design. The oval vegetable dish (11 inches by 15-1/4 inches; cat. 39558) is also similar and is inscribed the same way, including the mark of "S. Kirk & Son Co."

An elaborate silver centerpiece given to Admiral Schley in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1902 consists of a bowl, vase, and candelabra made to be fitted into one unit (fig. 15). The large bowl (20 inches by 6 inches) is chased in marine designs and bears the following inscriptions:

Presented to Winfield Scott Schley, Admiral U.S.N. in recognition of his services in destroying the Spanish Fleet off Santiago de Cuba, July 3, 1898.

Twenty-thousand American citizens join in honoring valor, fidelity to duty and a lofty generosity that exemplified the sublimest manhood. Memphis, Tennessee, April 28, 1902.

There is glory enough for All.

The silver vase (32 inches high) is made to fit into the bowl, and it has a portrait of Admiral Schley on one side and a picture of his flagship, the Brooklyn, on the other. Each end of the bowl is fitted with a socket to hold a three-branch silver candelabra, and there are two solid blocks of silver for insertion in the sockets when the candelabra are not being used. These pieces are marked "Sterling" but no maker's mark is visible.

A silver card (cat. 39518), measuring 3-1/4 inches by 5-1/2 inches, that was presented to Schley at a dinner given in his honor is engraved as follows:

Rear Admiral Winfield Scott Schley, U.S.N. The Commercial club of Kansas City, Mo., November 19, 1902.

The turn of the century marks the beginning of the popularity of loving cups as presentation pieces. There are four loving cups in the Admiral Schley collection.

The earliest of these cups bears the following inscription:

Presented to Rear Admiral W. S. Schley by the citizens of Atlanta Georgia, November 4, 1899.

This cup (cat. 39571), 9 inches in diameter and 14-1/2 inches in depth, is shaped like a vase and is decorated with a scroll design. Each of its three handles is attached to the cup with two applied silver oak leaves. The piece is marked "Maier & Berkley, Atlanta, Georgia, Sterling, 385,16."

Another silver cup with three handles was presented to Schley on February 5, 1902, by the Chamber of Commerce and the citizens of Knoxville, Tennessee, in recognition of his services during the Spanish-American War. This cup (cat. 39573) has the mark of the Gorham Silver Company and the words "Sterling, A 2219, 6 pints."

The silver loving cup given to Admiral Schley by the City of Dallas reflects the exuberance of the Texas donors as well as the taste of the turn of the century. It bears the following inscription:

Presented to Winfield Scott Schley, Rear Admiral, U.S.N. A token of the Affectionate Regard and Grateful Appreciation of the City of Dallas, Texas, For His Illustrious Achievements in the Service of our Country, October 20, 1902.

This cup (cat. 39572) measures 8 inches in diameter and 21 inches in depth. The three handles terminate in eagles' heads. The design pictures a battleship in gold identified as the "U.S.S. Oregon," a head and laurel wreath with the words "U.S.S. Brooklyn," and an eagle and a star in a wreath for the "U.S.S. Texas." The base of the cup is decorated with three Texas longhorns with an anchor and shield. It bears the marks of the Gorham Silver Company.

The fourth loving cup (cat. 39538) is made of vanadium steel rather than of silver. This too is a three-handled cup. It measures 7 inches in diameter and 12-1/2 inches in depth and is decorated with the emblem of the Masonic Order of the Mystic Shrine and the following inscriptions:

Presented to Noble Winfield Scott Schley by Syria Temple, A.A.O.N.M.S. November 20, 1909.


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The war with Spain is further commemorated by a silver loving cup[27] presented to Rear Admiral Charles D. Sigsbee, U.S.N. Sigsbee, commissioned captain in 1897, was in command of the battleship Maine when she blew up in Havana harbor in 1898. A naval court of inquiry exonerated Sigsbee, his officers, and crew from all blame for the disaster; and the temperate judicious dispatches from Sigsbee at the time did much to temper the popular demand for immediate reprisal.

The cup bears the following inscription:

The Commercial Club of St. Paul Minn. Sends Greetings to Capt. Charles Dwight Sigsbee who as Commander of the Auxiliary Cruiser St. Paul had a brilliant share in the Naval Exploits of the Spanish War of 1898.

May you live long and prosper.

Marks on the cup are those of the Gorham Silver Company and the words "Sterling," "Patented," and "5 pts."

Admiral Sigsbee achieved greater distinction for his services as a scientist than as a naval hero. An outstanding hydrographer, he made a deep-sea survey of the Gulf of Mexico, and from 1893 to 1897 he was chief of the Navy's hydrographic office.


In the midst of the myriad of soldiers, sailors, and politicians who have been presented with silver through the past two centuries, we find an arctic explorer being given similar recognition at the beginning of this century. Rear Admiral Robert E. Peary was the first man to reach the North Pole, and the United States National Museum has a collection of silver presented to him in recognition of this achievement.

Peary became interested in arctic exploration as early as 1886 and discovered he had an aptitude for its grueling demands on several minor expeditions to Greenland and the arctic ice cap. In 1893 he became determined to reach the North Pole, and he spent the next 15 years in unsuccessful attempts to achieve his ambition. In 1908 Peary left on another polar expedition; after a hazardous trip, he reached his goal on April 6, 1909. His victory seemed a hollow one because of the claim of a rival explorer that was finally proven spurious. In October a committee of experts appointed by the National Geographic Society supported Peary's claims, and in 1911 he was tendered the thanks of Congress. Admiral Peary's work as an explorer had immense scientific value, as he developed a highly efficient method of exploration which has continued to be used advantageously.

Three loving cups and a replica of a ship in silver[28] that were presented to Peary are in the collections of the United States National Museum. Two of the cups were gifts to Peary from cities in his home state of Maine. One loving cup (cat. 12186), 10 inches high, is marked with the old English "T" of Tiffany & Company, "7072," and "5 pts." It is inscribed:

To Commodore Robert Edwin Peary, U.S.N. in recognition of his remarkable achievement in placing the flag of the United States at the North Pole, April 6, 1909. Presented September 23, 1909 by the City of Bangor, Me.

The other loving cup from Maine (cat. 12187) is 12 inches deep and bears the Tiffany "T," "7056," "Sterling," and "5-1/2 pts." The inscription reads:

Presented by the citizens of Portland, and South Portland, Maine, To Commodore Robert Edwin Peary, U.S.N. September 23, 1909 in recognition of his achievement in nailing the stars and stripes to the North Pole.

The third loving cup (cat. 12188) is 18 inches high and is marked with the lion, anchor, and "G" of the Gorham Silver Company and with "Sterling," "332A," "7 pints," and "D. Kappa Epsilon." The inscription reads:

Presented to Commodore Robert Edwin Peary, U.S.N. by the Delta Kappa Epsilon Association of New York City, December 18, 1909.

In 1910 the Royal Scottish Geographic Society presented Admiral Peary with a silver replica of a ship (fig. 1) of the type used by Henry Hudson, John Davis, and William Baffin in their explorations for the Northwest Passage. The replica, representing a ship under full sail, is 24 inches high and 20 inches long. The foresail bears a long inscription in Latin likening Peary to other early arctic explorers. The marks indicate the piece was made in Great Britain.

Also in the Museum's collection is a silver plaque[29] presented to Peary by the Circumnavigator's Club in New York. It bears the mark of Tiffany & Company and is inscribed:

Circumnavigator's Club Presented to the Immortal Navigator Peary on the Occasion of his presence as guest of honor at our Annual dinner held at Delmonico's New York City, the Eleventh of December, 1913. Officers: President W. Tyre Stevens, 1st V. P. Wilson D. Lyon, 2nd V. P. W. D. Oelbermann, Treasurer, F. C. Schulze, Sec. F. W. Hilgar, Gov. E. H. Paterson, J. H. Burch Jr., George L. Carlisle, W. G. Paschoff, C. A. Haslett, William H. Zinn.

The bottom edge of the plaque is engraved "Tiffany & Co. Makers" and "18417 Sterling Silver."


Of all the silver pieces in the collections of the National Museum that commemorate military prowess, the sole piece relating to World War I was presented to a man who achieved fame for his humanitarian service as a diplomat—the Honorable Brand Whitlock, who was appointed American Minister to Belgium in 1913. Whitlock came to the position with a distinguished record as four-time mayor of Toledo, Ohio, where his administration was noted for its reforms. He had insisted on a fair deal for the working man; he liberalized the administration of justice; he kept the city government free of graft; and he won a battle against the power of vested interests in the city.

After the invasion of Belgium in World War I, Whitlock remained at his post where he performed many services for the oppressed citizens. His presence in Brussels facilitated for both friend and foe the enormous task of organizing the distribution of food among the civilian population of Belgium and the occupied zone of France. In 1916 he chose to follow the Belgian Government into exile. His activities won him the lifelong affection and admiration of the people of Belgium, and after the war they showered him with evidences of their esteem. Among the many presentation medals, documents, and miscellaneous gifts that he received is a silver loving cup (fig. 16) from the British Government. On one side the cup bears the British coat of arms, and on the other side is inscribed:

Presented to Brand Whitlock by his Britannic Majesty's Government, 11 November 1918.

The base is marked "C & Co.," "130 Regent St., Carrington and Co., London W," and "Copy of Antique Irish 1717, 66 x 13, P 6610, xy P d."

A presentation piece made of polished steel is really outside the scope of this paper, but as it has an interesting bit of diplomatic history connected with it, it has been included in the catalogue. The object is a paperweight (fig. 17) designed by William Jennings Bryan when he was Secretary of State. The weight, in the form of a plowshare, was made from swords condemned by the War Department. Thirty of these weights were given by Secretary Bryan to the diplomats who in 1914 signed with him treaties providing for the investigation of all international disputes. The shaft of the plow bears the inscription:

"Nothing is final between friends" "Diplomacy is the art of keeping cool"

The blade is inscribed

"They shall beat their swords into plowshares" Isaiah 2:4

On the base is engraved:

"From William Jennings Bryan to the Smithsonian Institution, August 13, 1914"


Among the pieces of presentation silver acquired in 1960 by the Smithsonian Institution is a covered urn that was given to Mr. and Mrs. Robert Todd Lincoln by their children on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary.[30] Robert Todd Lincoln, son of the President, became a prominent lawyer in Chicago and later served as president of the Pullman Company, as Secretary of War in the cabinets of President Garfield and President Arthur, and as Minister to Great Britain under President Benjamin Harrison. The silver gilt urn has two handles, measures 13 inches from the base to the finial on the cover, and 7 inches at its widest point. Bands of ornamentation feature both the grape design and the acorn and oak-leaf design. It is inscribed:

Robert Todd Lincoln—Mary Harlan 1868-1918

The gilt wash, although almost completely polished off the outside surface, still covers the inside of the urn and its lid.


A silver tureen and tray[31] were given to the Honorable James R. Mann, Republican leader of the House of Representatives, by the members of the House in 1919. Mann was elected a Representative from Illinois in 1897, and he remained a member of Congress until his death in 1922. In 1912 he became minority leader. In addition to the Mann Act, his name is associated with other important legislation of the period such as the Pure Food and Drugs Act and the Woman Suffrage Amendment.

The tray, which holds the tureen, is inscribed:

James R. Mann Republican Leader from House Members of the 65th Congress, March 3rd, 1919.

It is marked on the back with "W. Sterling, 4086—16 in." The initial represents the Wallace Silver Company.

The oval tureen is on a pedestal base. There is a scroll design around the edge of the base, the edge of the bowl, and the opening of the bowl. The piece measures 14 inches from handle to handle, is 10 inches high, and has the initials "J R M" in old English letters engraved on the side.

In the Museum's collection is a loving cup of Chinese design that was presented by the Chamber of Commerce, Peking, China, to a party of American Congressmen on a tour of China and Japan in 1920.[32] The height of the cup is 17-5/8 inches, and its width, including the two large handles, is 15-5/16 inches. The piece is mounted on a papier-mache base that is covered with silk. The engraved Chinese characters translate as follows:

Commemorating the welcome of Congressmen from Great America traveling in China

Respectfully presented by members of the Chinese Diet

May the spring of your well-being be as vast as the ocean.


Among the significant social changes that occurred in the 19th century was the movement for woman suffrage that began about the middle of the century as a concerted action by a nucleus of determined women. The crusade gained strength and numbers during the second half of the century, and finally achieved success with the ratification of the Suffrage Amendment in 1920. Many women worked in this cause, and the pieces of presentation silver in the National Museum's Woman Suffrage Collection constitute a record of the most important leaders.

Chief spokesman of the movement and its leader for many years was Elizabeth Cady Stanton of New York State. She was instrumental in calling the first Woman's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848, and she served as president of the National Woman Suffrage Association from its beginning in 1869 and as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association from 1890 to 1891. She continued to be an active worker in the movement until her death in 1902, writing and editing many works on suffrage in addition to her administrative work.

On the occasion of her 80th birthday in 1895, Mrs. Stanton was presented with a silver tray[33] (8 inches wide and 1-1/2 inches deep) that is inscribed:

From the Ladies of Seneca Falls, 1848-1895.

This tray, presented at a meeting at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, bears on the back a "W" in a circle, a two-headed lion in a rectangle (probably an early mark of the Wallace Silver Company), the word "Sterling," and the number "2048."

On the same occasion Mrs. Stanton was presented a silver loving cup[34] that is inscribed:

1815-1895 Presented to Elizabeth Cady Stanton by the New York City Woman Suffrage League, November 12, 1895. Defeated day by day but unto victory born.

The cup, 4-1/2 inches in diameter and 7-3/8 inches deep, is marked on the bottom with the Wallace "W," similar to the mark on the tray, and "Sterling, 3798, 4-1/2 pints, 925/100 fine, Pat 1892."

The life story of Susan B. Anthony is a record of 60 years of devotion and work for the enfranchisement of women. An organizer and director of countless suffrage activities, she was tireless in conducting campaigns for woman suffrage. She is the one individual who has become so identified with the fight for woman suffrage that, more than any other, her name has become synonymous with that term. During her lifetime she worked in almost every capacity in the organized movement. She became president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in 1892 and served until her 80th birthday in 1900. On that occasion the Colorado Equal Suffrage Association presented her with a miniature, three-handled loving cup that stands only 3-3/4 inches high (fig. 18). In one section of the cup there is engraved the word "Colorado" and the state's coat of arms; in an adjoining section is an engraving of the state flower; and in the third section is the following inscription:

Colorado Equal Suffrage Association to Susan B. Anthony on her 80th Birthday 1900.

The cup is marked on the bottom "Sterling, 590, A. J. Stark & Co., Denver."

She was also given a silver-plated teakettle[35] by the Political Equality Club of Rochester, New York. The stand is 3-1/2 inches high, and the teapot is 5-1/4 inches high. Engraved around the top of the teapot is:

Susan B. Anthony 1820-1893.

The stand is marked "Mfd. & Plated Reed & Barton" and "65."

The chosen leader of the Woman Suffrage Movement after 1900 was Mrs. Carrie Chapman Catt, a vigorous organizer and campaigner who led the drive for the constitutional amendment that was finally ratified in 1920. Mrs. Catt founded the International Woman Suffrage Alliance in 1902 and served as its president until 1923. Her late years were devoted to the cause of international peace and disarmament.

Mrs. Catt was the prime mover in calling the first international conference on suffrage, which, in 1902, welcomed representatives from nine foreign nations—Great Britain, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Turkey, Russia, Australia, and Chile. The delegates were honored guests at the National Suffrage Convention then in session in Washington where they also attended two congressional hearings on suffrage and were received by President Theodore Roosevelt at the White House.[36] Mrs. Catt was given a silver tray[37] inscribed:

To Carrie Chapman Catt from the foreign delegates to the First International Suffrage Conference, Washington, D.C., Feb. 12-18, 1902.

The back of the tray is marked "Galt & Bro. Sterling, 386." The Galt silver firm is in Washington, D.C.

The campaign for the first referendum in the state of New York on woman suffrage was considered to be the most decisive of all the state fights. New York was divided into 12 campaign districts working under Mrs. Catt. The campaign was most vigorously waged, but the referendum was defeated.[38] After the New York campaign Mrs. Catt received a silver gilt tray[39] inscribed:

Honorable Carrie Chapman Catt from Katherine Howard Notman

Eleventh Assembly District Campaign Chairman, 1915

The right of the citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

The tray is marked on the reverse "Tiffany and Co., 18154, Makers 811, Sterling Silver, 925/1000/M."

Mrs. Catt had started the suffrage movement in the Philippine Islands when she visited there in 1912 and organized the first suffrage club in Manila. In 1937 the Philippine legislature submitted the question of votes for women to the women of the Islands themselves. The campaign committee working out of Manila sent native women campaigners throughout the Islands to be sure all races and religions were represented in the vote. Mrs. Catt raised money in this country and sent it to the campaign committee to help with the fight.[40] Over half a million Philippine women voted favorably on the question, and several months later Mrs. Catt was presented with a silver plaque, mounted on native woods, that is now in the Museum's collection.[41] It is inscribed:

In grateful acknowledgement of the moral and financial aid given by the women of America through Carrie Chapman Catt to the women of the Philippines through the International Federation of Women's Clubs in their struggles for their political rights culminating in ultimate victory in April, 1937.


The earliest of the sports trophies in the collection is an ornate belt (fig. 19) made of blue velvet upon which are mounted five engraved silver plates connected by silver straps. On the center plate is the inscription:

6 Days Bicycle Champion Belt of Scotland Won by H. W. Higham Nottingham 19th June 1880 Contested at Glasgow

One of the two adjoining smaller plates has an engraving of a man riding a high-wheeled bicycle, and the other has an engraving of a man standing beside a similar bicycle. The two outer plates are engraved with Scottish coats of arms. The belt is 34-1/2 inches long and 3 inches wide.

Trophies were awarded for competition among the various makes of cars almost as early as the advent of the automobile itself. The earliest such trophy in the Museum's collection is a three-handled, cut-glass cup[42] with a wide silver rim on which is engraved:

Automobile Club of New Jersey. Eagle Rock Hill Climbing Contest. First Prize Nov. 5, 1901.

The prize was won by Charles E. Duryea who drove an automobile of his own manufacture.

Most important of the automobile trophies was the Vanderbilt Cup (fig. 20) for racing, which was established by William K. Vanderbilt, Jr., in 1904 to bring the best cars of foreign make to the United States so that domestic manufacturers could observe them. It is believed that the trophy contributed in this way to the rapid development of the automobile in the United States. The Vanderbilt Cup races were held annually in the United States under the auspices of the American Automobile Association.

The silver cup, measuring 23 inches high and 20 inches in diameter and weighing about 40 pounds, is engraved with statistics of the various races—such as dates, winners, types of cars, distances, and times.[43] There is a wreath around the brim, and the front is decorated with a period racing car in repousse. The inscription reads:

Challenge Cup Presented by W. K. Vanderbilt Jr. American Automobile Assn. under deed of gift to be raced for yearly by cars under 1000 kilos.

On the inside of the stem is marked "Tiffany and Co." and "35 pints."

Athletic trophies in the collection include eight silver and silver-plated loving cups awarded for athletic events to the crew members of various ships of the U.S. Navy.[44] The sporting events represented include baseball and football games, canoe and cutter races, and track meets held among the fleet between 1903 and 1915.


The National Museum also has a small collection of silver trowels used for laying cornerstones of public buildings. There is an ivory-handled trowel (fig. 21) with the inscription:

This Trowel was used by His Excellency Ulysses S. Grant. President of the United States in laying the Corner Stone of the Building erected by the Department of Public Parks for the American Museum of Natural History and presented to him by the Trustees of the Museum New York June 2^nd 1874.

There are also some silver trowels in the Bishop Matthew Simpson Collection.[45] The earliest of these is inscribed:

Presented to Bishop Simpson D.D.L.L.D. at a laying of a stone of the New Wesleyan Church, Willesden, in commemoration of the 1st Methodist OEcumenical Conference held in London, Sept. 10, 1881.

This trowel (cat. 38199) bears the English standard marks with the initials "H. H."

On the same trip to London Bishop Simpson received an ivory-handled silver trowel (cat. 38198) inscribed:

Presented to Bishop Simpson upon his laying the foundation stone of Clouditte Methodist Church, Dublin, 12th October, 1881.

Another silver trowel in the same collection is inscribed:

Used by Bishop Simpson at the laying of the cornerstone of the Wenonah Methodist Episcopal Church, Wenonah, New Jersey, Aug. 15, 1883, and presented to him in loving remembrance of his presence.

This trowel (cat. 38197) is marked "Coin" on the back.

The fourth trowel, given to Mrs. Simpson, is inscribed as follows:

Presented to Mrs. Bishop Matthew Simpson by the Lady Managers in loving remembrance of her laying the cornerstone of the Methodist Episcopal Orphanage, Philadelphia, Oct. 13, 1887.

The back of this trowel (cat. 38208) is marked "Sterling."


Three fire trumpets in a collection[46] on loan from the Insurance Company of North America are inscribed as presentation pieces. One of these is 22 inches high and has eagle-head handles and an overall repousse design. This trumpet is engraved:

May 1871 Retired from active service by the establishment of the Volunteer Fire Department In grateful remembrance we restore to Samuel G. Simpson his handsome gift presented by him to the Southwark Fire Co. Nov. 7, 1865.

Another trumpet is engraved with crossed ladders, pikes, and fire helmets against an overall floral design. It is 19-1/2 inches high. The inscription reads:

Presented to Vigilant Engine Co. #6 of Paterson New Jersey at the Annual Fair of the Willis Street Baptist Church April 1879.

The inscription on the third trumpet reads simply:

Presented to Captain George W. Erb by the Ladies of St. Rose's Fair.

It has an elaborate engine-engraved design and is 21-1/2 inches high.

* * * * *

U.S. Government Printing Office: 1965

For sale by Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office Washington, D.C. 20402 Price 30 cents

* * * * *

Paper 47, pages 81-108, from UNITED STATES NATIONAL MUSEUM BULLETIN 241:



* * * * *


[1] Bequest of Arthur Michaels (acc. 162866, cat. 383497), Division of Cultural History, USNM.

[2] E. ALFRED JONES, The Old Silver of American Churches (National Society of Colonial Dames of America, 1913), pp. 68-69 and pl. 27.

[3] Bequest of Arthur Michaels (acc. 162866, cat. 383549), Division of Cultural History, USNM.

[4] H. MAXSON HOLLOWAY, "American Presentation Silver," New-York Historical Society Quarterly (October 1946), vol. 30, p. 228.

[5] "The Journal of the Proceedings of the Commissioners Plenipotentiary, Appointed on Behalf of the United States to Treat with the Northwestern Tribes of Indians," American State Papers ... Indian Affairs, vol. 1, pp. 826-836.

[6] G. Carroll Lindsay, "The Treaty Pipe of the Delawares," Antiques (1958), vol. 74, no. 1, pp. 44-45.

[7] Gift of Thomsen H. Alexander (acc. 63880, cat. 22995), Division of Political History, USNM.

[8] Bequest of Amy Wetmore May (acc. 190331, cat. 387945), Division of Political History, USNM.

[9] Gift of Estate of Sophie P. Casey (acc. 171620, cat. 44364), Division of Political History, USNM.

[10] Bequest of Henry R. Magruder (acc. 47577, cat. 10793), Division of Political History, USNM.

[11] EARL CHAPIN MAY, Century of Silver 1847-1947: Connecticut Yankees and a Noble Metal (New York: McBride and Co., 1947), pl. 36.

[12] Loan of Mrs. Samuel Reber (acc. 87949, cat. 35145), Division of Armed Forces History, USNM.

[13] Infantry (vol. 2 of The Army Lineage Book), Washington, 1953.

[14] Loan of Metropolitan Museum of Art (acc. 64761, cat. 26209), Division of Political History, USNM.

[15] ISABELLA FIELD JUDSON, ed., Cyrus W. Field, His Life and Work (New York, 1896), p. 110.

[16] Gift of Isabella Field Judson (acc. 116488, cat. 37662), Division of Political History, USNM.

[17] Gift of Isabella Field Judson (acc. 32290, cat. 7214), Division of Political History, USNM.

[18] Gift of William Lilly (acc. 103012, cat. 35780), Division of Political History, USNM.

[19] Gift of William Lilly (acc. 103012, cats. 35781-82), Division of Political History, USNM.

[20] JOHN D. CHAMPLIN, Jr., ed., Narrative of the Mission to Russia in 1866 of the Hon. Gustavus Vasa Fox from the Journal and Notes of J. F. Loubat (New York, 1873), p. 264.

[21] Snuffboxes were given by sovereigns to those who were not allowed to receive decorations. Such boxes were of three grades: plain gold boxes, boxes set with diamonds, and boxes having both diamonds and the sovereign's miniature. The latter were given only to persons of the highest distinction.

[22] CHAMPLIN, p. 359.

[23] Gift of Elizabeth Hardenburg (acc. 53695, cat. 12782), Division of Political History, USNM.

[24] From a speech by Cox delivered in the House of Representatives, April 24, 1888.

[25] Gift of Katherine Batcheller (acc. 112477, cat. 36871), Division of Political History, USNM.

[26] Collection gift of Mrs. R. S. Wortley (acc. 136891), Division of Naval History, USNM.

[27] Gift of Nellie G. Gunther (acc. 84594, cat. 35647), Division of Naval History, USNM.

[28] Loan of Robert E. Peary (acc. 52878), Division of Naval History, USNM.

[29] Loan of Mrs. Robert E. Peary (acc. 177710, cat. 46014), Division of Naval History, USNM.

[30] Gift of Lincoln Isham (acc. 227132.1), Division of Political History, USNM.

[31] Gift of Mrs. James R. Mann (acc. 70676, cats. 34113-14), Division of Political History, USNM.

[32] The cup (acc. 66168, cat. 30852) was deposited in the United States National Museum (Division of Political History) by the Honorable John. H. Small, who was chairman of the group of traveling Congressmen.

[33] Gift of Harriot Stanton Blatch (acc. 127776, cat. 38762), Division of Political History, USNM.

[34] Gift of Harriot Stanton Blatch (acc. 127776, cat. 38763), Division of Political History, USNM.

[35] Gift of National American Woman Suffrage Association (acc. 64601, cat. 26162), Division of Political History, USNM.

[36] MARY GRAY PECK, Carrie Chapman Catt (New York: H. W. Wilson Co., 1944), pp. 121-122.

[37] Gift of National American Woman Suffrage Association (acc. 147840, cat. 42083), Division of Political History, USNM.

[38] PECK, op. cit., pp. 220-232.

[39] Gift of National American Woman Suffrage Association (acc. 147840, cat. 42084), Division of Political History, USNM.

[40] PECK, op. cit., pp. 457-458.

[41] Gift of National American Woman Suffrage Association (acc. 147840, cat. 42085), Division of Political History, USNM.

[42] Gift of Mrs. Charles Duryea (acc. 144429, cat. 311338), Division of Transportation, USNM.

[43] Statistics on the cup for the races held from 1904 to 1916 are an interesting record of the development of the automobile. For instance, the winning speed increased from 52.2 miles per hour in 1904 to 86.99 miles per hour in 1916.

[44] These trophies were received as a transfer from the Department of Defense (acc. 83961).

[45] Gift of the Misses Simpson (acc. 104604), Division of Political History, USNM.

[46] (Acc. 138182, cat. 311087), Division of Transportation, USNM.

* * * * *

Transcriber's note:

All footnotes were moved to the end of the text.

Some illustrations have been moved.

A List of Illustrations was added.

Archaic and variable spelling is preserved.

The author's punctuation style is preserved.

The following changes were made to the original text:

Page 92: silverplated standardized to silver-plated (by the Meriden Britannia Company for its high-grade, silver-plated hollow-ware made on a base of silver nickel.)

Page 92: old-English standardized to old English (and has the initials "J R M" in old English letters engraved on the side.)

Footnote 25: Added period after cat (Gift of Katherine Batcheller (acc. 112477, cat. 36871), Division of Political History, USNM.)

Footnote 26: UNSM changed to USNM (Collection gift of Mrs. R. S. Wortley (acc. 136891), Division of Naval History, USNM.)


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