Butler Bement - The Samuel Kellogg Presentation Beaker from the Berkshire Agricultural Society, made, Pittsfield, MA, 1826
Of tapering cylindrical form with a flaring rim, this lovely beaker is a fine example of American federal silver. It measures 3.6 inches high, 3 inches in diameter and weighs 3.6 troy ounces. It bears the original engraved inscription:
To Capt. Samuel Kellogg
The Berkshire Agricultural Society was incorporated in 1811 under the leadership of Elkanah Watson of Pittsfield, MA (in Berkshire County). A successful merchant and businessman who had lived abroad, Watson developed the model for the modern agricultural fair in Pittsfield and the Berkshire Agricultural Society was created to organize and hold that annual fair.
Unlike the contests held by aristocratic farmers in Europe, Watson developed a new model of fair which emphasized improving the crops and livestock of local working farmers with prizes, or premiums, awarded for the best examples. Further, these fairs innovated by including contests for domestic industries such as wool and linen fabrics, bonnets and rugs - items crafted primarily by women. Fairs such as these, based on the 'the new Berkshire method', ultimately included entertaining competitions and became popular events throughout the young republic.
Samuel Kellogg (1766-1829) was one of Williamstown, Massachusetts's leading citizens. Known as 'Captain' Kellogg because he was captain of the local militia company, Kellogg's life was partly one of public service. At various times, he was a Justice of the Peace, a Williamstown selectman and assessor and an elected representative to the state legislature in Boston. (1)
He was the most successful farmer in Williamstown, cultivating varied crops and raising much livestock. Kellogg's livestock holdings were "usually fifteen to twenty horses, four yolk of oxen, sixty cows, a thousand sheep, not to mention hogs and hens and geese and ducks; and lastly… he bought a pair of peacocks!" (2)
The Pittsfield Sun of October 12, 1826 reports that Kellogg won premiums at the fair that year for "fine…Oats and Peas, Winter Wheat, [and] Winter Rye" along with another for "excellent…Indian Corn". According to Berkshire Agricultural Society records of 1812-14, these cups, which were awards for premiums, cost $8, $10, $12 or $16 depending on the year and whether the premium was for first or second place. (Third place was awarded a medal.) (3)
Butler Bement was a successful silversmith working in Pittsfield, MA from 1808 until his retirement. He advertised that he did 'gold, gilt and silver work' along with clock and watch making.(4) With the exception of occasional teaspoons, his work is very rarely seen on the market today.
Arthur Latham Perry, Williamstown and Williams College: A History, (Norwood: Arthur Latham Perry, 1904), pp. 81-82.
Berkshire Agricultural Society Executive Committee Records, Pittsfield Athenaeum, n.p.
Henry N. Flynt and Martha Gandy Fales, The Heritage Foundation Collection of Silver With Biographical Sketches of New England Silversmiths, 1625-1825, (Old Deerfield: The Heritage Foundation, 1968), p. 156.