Lot 4012
  • 4012

A rare American Corporate silver Seal of the Proprietors of Essex Bridge, Boston, 1788, possibly by Paul Revere Jr.

10,000 - 20,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • silver
  • diameter 1 1/2 in.
  • 3.8 cm
circular seal carved with a view of the bridge, upon which is a figure of Ceres with a horn of plenty, and beneath swimming in the water a figure of Neptune, surrounded by the words: CERERI CONCEDIT NEPTUNUS, 1788 and with a label at the top with the words Essex Bridge

Catalogue Note

The Act dated November 17th 1787 by the Massachusetts Legislature authorized the creation of a corporation for “building a bridge over the River between Salem and Beverly, and for supporting the same. The grant was to the principal shareholders George Cabot Esq., John Cabot, John Fisk, Israel Thorndike and Joseph White and the document details the amount of the different  tolls “for passengers, horses and chaises, sulky, Sley, Cattle, sheep and swine… and Toll on Lord’s days, shall be double…” The bridge was to be at least thirty-two feet wide, well covered with plank or timber, with sufficient rails on each side, and boarded eighteen inches from the bottom for the safety of passengers. The town of Salem was to received 40 pounds annually and the town of Danvers 10 pounds, and after 70 years the bridge to become the property of the local government. The first meeting was held at the Sun Tavern on December 13, 1787, Nathan Dane as moderator, William Prescott the clerk. The first seven directors were George Cabot, John Fisk, Andrew Cabot, Joseph White, Joseph Lee, Edward Pulling and George Dodge. Thomas Davis was appointed treasurer at the meeting.

The depiction of the bridge on the seal is very close to an 1838 print “Southeastern View of Beverly and the Essex Bridge” woodblock engraved by S. E. Brown for Barber’s Historical Collections. The centenary of the building with a discussion of the seal appeared in Historical Collections of the Essex Institute, Vol. XXX April May June 1893, where the seal was described as “without much doubt, the work of Paul Revere” (p. 91). Silver seals do not usually carry a maker’s mark at this period, but three are attributed to Paul Revere- the Rising States Lodge, circa 1784; the Massachusetts Medical Society, circa 1782 and Phillips Academy, circa 1785, all retained by their respective institutions and listed in Patricia E. Kane in  Colonial  Massachusetts Silversmiths and Jewelers, p. 825.