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Woodward and Grosjean Two Coin Silver Harvard Presentation Covered Tankards, Boston, 1849, 1850

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Stunning castings of cornucopia are used atop these magnificent tankards. They are quite striking with wonderful details and curved tails of their baskets acting as thumb-pieces for opening the domed, fluted covers. Horizontal, plain bands decorate the tankard openings and another one repeats an inch below. Bold handles with wonderful hinges and applied, stepped bases with fluting complete the design. These exquisite covered tankards are extremely rare and historically interesting.

These tankards were presented to members of the Harvard Club of the Bruderschaft upon their marriage. One was presented in 1849 and the other in 1850.

The first one is inscribed:

May 7th 1849
Fortuna tua sic semper secunda.
(Fortune is always second)

Alexander Calvin Washburn (1819-1906) graduated Harvard in 1844 with a Bachelor of Laws degree and set up his practice in Boston. He married Ellen M. Bailey (1) on May, 7th, 1849.

The second one is inscribed:

June 4th 1850
Lasso maris portus jam patet securis.
(The faint sea already easily clear)

John Adams Cunningham (1818-1900) received his Masters of Arts from Harvard in 1838. He married Alice H. Haskell on June, 4th, 1850 and they had 11 children. He then "went to sea in the capacity of 'supercargo" of a merchantman, and taking kindly to a seafaring life his natural ability enabled him in unusually short space of time to become a master mariner." Upon retiring in 1874 from his merchant life in Boston and Shanghai, he settled in Bolton, Massachusetts, and raised thoroughbred Jersey stock cattle. (2)

Engraved underneath each tankard are the initials of the Club's members and "From Club/ Dec. 14th, 1841", the date which the Club was founded. (3)

These tankards come with wonderful research including a photograph of many members (including John Cunningham) of the club along with their names. If you look closely, you'll see one of the tankards on the table (see picture below).

Bruderschaft club image with tankard on table


The tankards were actually designed by one of the members: Richard Greenough. (4) Richard Greenough married Sarah Loring of Boston and was a 'distinguished sculptor.' After their marriage, they moved to Rome. (See Wikipedia here.) One of his famous sculptures, Benjamin Franklin, stands in front of Old City Hall in Boston, another, Cupid and the Tortoise, is in the collection of the Mass Historical Society (see here).

There are other notable monograms of members including one for Edward Everett Hale, a Unitarian minister, first scholar of his class and eloquent preacher, son of Nathan Hale, who was the nephew of Nathan Hale, the "Patriot Spy... Dr. Hale was one of the most popular of American authors. His best known work is The Man Without a Country." (5)

These extraordinary tankards are marked with Woodward & Grosjean's trademark and "PURE COIN/BOSTON" and by the Boston retailer 'LINCOLN & FOSS.' They measure 7.5 inches tall weigh 22.85 and 22.90 troy ounces and are in excellent antique condition.

Provenance: A.C.W tankard: Christie's, Important American Furniture, Silver, Prints, Folk Art and Decorative Arts, New York, January 26, 1995, lot 375.
Both: Private Collection.


  1. Alexander C. Washburn, A General Diffusion of Knowledge, (Thayer Memorial Library, 1985), p.18.
  2. Dr. E.E. Hale, Sec., The Harvard Graduates' Magazine, Volume XIV, 1905-1906 (Boston: The Harvard Graduates' Magazine Association, 1905), pp. 509-510.
  3. Research accompanying the tankards.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Edward Everett Hale, Wikipedia.