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COMMEMORATIVE SILVER GOBLET PRESENTED TO MASSACHUSETTS REVEREND EDWARD CORNELIUS TOWNE IN MARCH OF 1861 – GRADUATE OF YALE SEMINARY, UNITARIAN MINISTER AND STAFF CONTRIBUTOR TO THE ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA – AN ARTIFACT IDENTIFIED TO AN INTERESTING HISTORICAL MEMBER OF THE CLERGY:  Occasionally a piece surfaces that commemorates the day to day life that was occurring at the time of great national crisis and upheaval, capturing a moment when the citizenry kept faith with their day to day concerns and observances in spite of the chaos enveloping their lives.  Presented to a minister by the members of his small community church on the eve of the American Civil War, this goblet is just such a piece.   

This silver plated goblet, hand engraved with an intricate detailed floral pattern, bears the inscription "Presented to Rev. E. C. Towne by the Ladies of the Braintree Free Church, Mar. 29, 1861".   Rev. Towne recorded a very active life, leaving a considerable biography which not only accounts for this presentation, but recorded a lifetime of accomplishments.   

Rev. Towne, born in Massachusetts in 1834, joined the sophomore class at Yale Theological Seminary in 1854 and graduated in 1859.  He was ordained on July 11, 1860 at the Free Church of Braintree, Massachusetts, explaining his relationship with that church which led to this presentation.  As noted in the 1912 edition of the “Obituary Record of Yale Graduates”, Towne departed Braintree in the spring of 1861 to become the pastor of the First Parish (Unitarian) Church in Medford, Massachusetts where he would remain for the following seven years.   

Apparently, the Ladies of Braintree Free Church presented Rev. Towne with this goblet upon his departure to commemorate his new position as pastor in Medford – indicating the ladies group must have thought highly of Towne. 

Rev. Towne went on to develop a career in journalism.  As early as 1868 he was on the staff of the Chicago Tribune and wrote for the Chicago Evening Journal until the Great Fire in 1871.  Over the next forty years, while continuing to speak from the pulpits of churches throughout the northeast, and for a period of five years over in England, Towne also worked in a variety of newspaper and editing positions, including publishing several periodicals and monographs.  Perhaps his most notable position in the publishing world was serving on the staff of the Encyclopedia Britannica as a contributor, reviser, and index-maker.  The Reverend passed away in 1911 at the age of 77 in Brooklyn, New York and is interred at Vine Hills Cemetery in Plymouth, Massachusetts.   

This goblet, measuring 6 ½” high and 3 ¼” in diameter at the mouth, appears to be silver plated over a non-ferrous base metal.  All of the floral pattern engraving and the engraved inscription are well executed and have survived without any wear or damage.  The goblet retains it full form with only a minor cupping to the bottom pedestal.   

This is a nice commemorative piece from the life of a noted mid-19TH Century American cleric and author.  (0937)  $350



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