Historic silver cup from 1748 coming to Beaufort and Historic Beaufort Foundation

Historic silver cup from 1748 coming to Beaufort and Historic Beaufort Foundation


Historic Beaufort Foundation successfully bid on an historic silver cup and cap from 1748 presented by “the Gentlemen of Port Royal” to Captain Joseph Hamar, commander of His Majesty’s ship Adventure, for protective services around Beaufort and Port Royal.

The 13.5-inch silver cup and cap, created by Thomas Heming of London, sold through Sotheby’s auction house on Jan. 23. Colonists from South Carolina commissioned the silver cup less than 40 years before the American Revolution. Heming became Principal Goldsmith to King George III in 1760.

Sotheby’s experts said the Heming cup and cover “is among the earliest and most sophisticated examples of rococo silver which can be linked to the American Colonies.” 

Historic Beaufort Foundation bid on the silver cup in partnership with a number of donors who contributed to a special fund for the purchase, said Cynthia Jenkins, HBF executive director.

“This is an incredible piece of local history with direct connections that opened Port Royal and Beaufort to economic stability,” Jenkins said. “Captain Hamar and his ship Adventure protected Port Royal harbor during King George’s War of 1744-48 when French and Spanish privateers were attacking shipping along the South Carolina and Georgia coasts.

Wayne Vance, chair of the Historic Beaufort Foundation Board of Trustees, applauded the purchase. “This is an exceptional accomplishment, to bring home to Port Royal Island the original silver cup from 1748 that meant so much to our young town 274 years ago,” he said. “To secure the actual antique cup, not a reproduction, and to eventually make it accessible to our public, is remarkable. We want to thank everyone who contributed to make this possible.”

According to noted South Carolina historian Dr. Lawrence Rowland, who is one of three experts participating in HBF’s ongoing lecture series this month and February (details at www.historicbeaufort.org ) the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in October, 1748 ended King George’s War (also known as the War of Jenkins’ Ear) and the Anglo-Spanish dispute over Georgia. 

The stability and economic benefits brought by Royal Navy ships helped establish Beaufort and Port Royal as centers for commercial shipping and were recognized by the local “gentlemen” with the silver cup gift to the captain of the Adventure

Hamar left the Adventure in 1749 and served briefly as Captain of the 60-gun Eagle in 1755. He retired from British service in 1758 and died in 1773, just before the American Revolution. Two streets within Beaufort’s National Historic Landmark district, Hamar and Adventure, were named in honor of the 1748 heroics, and Captain Hamar was gifted two lots on the street of his name.

There are few comparable items to this cup, Sotheby’s said. They include a pair of dragon-handled sauce boats, attributed to Frederick Kandler, which were owned by William Middleton of South Carolina in the late 1740s (Philadelphia Museum), and the Franks family silver, mostly by Paul de Lamerie, supplied to that family in Philadelphia in the mid-1740s (Metropolitan Museum of Art), Sotheby’s noted.

Heming began his apprenticeship in London in 1738, training under Peter Archambo. He entered his mark as largeworker in June 1745, with an address in Piccadilly, the center of London. The South Carolina cup represents his very early work, well before he was named Principal Goldsmith to King George III in 1760, Sotheby’s said.

“To see this item come up for auction, with its direct and historic ties to Beaufort and Port Royal, really was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Vance said.

The item was listed by Sotheby’s as a “George II Silver Presentation Cup and Cover of South Carolina Interest, Thomas Heming, London, dated 1748 … of double-bellied rococo form, the scroll-edged foot case with trailing grapevine, continuing up the body and extended by engraved representations, flanking two rococo cartouches engraved with contemporary arms and presentation inscription, matching cover with crest and motto below grape cluster finial, scroll handles topped by caryatids of a bacchante and a satyr with grape cluster and pan pipes, marked under foot with lion passant, leopard’s head crowned, and maker’s mark twice, one obscuring another mark.”

The inscription reads:

The Gentlemen of Port Royal

So: Carolina

Present this Plate to Captn: Hamar

Comdr: of his Majts Ship Adventure. in

Gratefull Acknowledgment of his Services

Done to this Port in ye Year 1748

Historic Beaufort Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit education foundation created to preserve, protect, and present sites and artifacts of historic, architectural, and cultural interest throughout Beaufort County, South Carolina. For more information on the entity’s mission and history, please visit historicbeaufort.org and follow them on social media, including Facebook and Instagram.