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Lincoln & Foss Derby Family Antique Coin Silver Hops Pitcher, Boston, 1852

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The spectacular pitcher is decorated with hops and grain, an unusual and rare design found most commonly on beer pitchers. The bulbous body is repousséd with vines, leaves, seeds of grain (most likely barley), and bunches of hops that are hand-chased with wonderful details. These vines spread from the bold, outstanding twisted vine handle. The front is engraved with a 'D' monogram.

Engraved underneath is the following:

A Legacy from
E. Hersy Derby
to his Daughter
Mrs. E. Hersy Derby, Jr.
Salem 1852

Ezekiel Hersy Derby was a son of Elias Hasket Derby, ""King Derby."" Elias Hasket Derby was one of the wealthiest of colonial merchants. Rooms (dining, parlor, bedroom), from his mansion ""Oak Hill,"" along with some of his personal property, are foundational parts of the American Decorative Arts collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Son Ezekiel, also extremely wealthy, made this legacy in his will:

    To my daughter in law Elizabeth D Derby, the widow of my late lamented son E. Hersy, as she will inherit a much larger property from her own father than it will be possible for me to leave either of my own daughters, I give and bequeath a piece of plate the value of one hundred dollars as a small token of my great esteem and regard for her. (1)

We would speculate from the decoration on the vessel that E. Hersy Derby or E. Hersy Derby, Jr. liked beer.

Lincoln & Foss was the partnership of Albert L. Lincoln and Charles M. Foss. Their working dates are 1848-57. According to an ad in the Boston Directory, they were successors to Lincoln & Reed and listed themselves as ""Importers and Dealers of Rich Watches, Jewelry and Silverware."" They were located at 65 Washington Street, Boston. (2)

Provenance: Mrs. Ezekiel Hersy (Elizabeth Pickman) Derby, Jr.
to her sister: Martha Pickman Walcott
Dr. Henry & Charlotte E. (Richards) Wolcott
George & Lilla E. (Nickerson) Wolcott
J. Sterling & Charlotte E. (Wolcott) Davis
J. Sterling & Marjorie K. (Jones) Davis, Jr.

This rare pitcher is marked underneath 'Lincoln & Foss/ BOSTON/ Pure Silver Coin'. The vessel has also seen some travels as there is a French import mark on the neck. It measures 8.5 inches across the body and handle by 8.25 inches high, weighs 25.70 troy ounces.

Condition: In excellent antique condition.


  1. Essex County (MA) Probate Record 37376, Last Will & Testament of E Hersy Derby, p. 2
  2. The Boston Directory for the Year 1851, (Boston: George Adams, 1851), Harvard University Libraries accessed online 7/2/2012.