INSCRIPTION: Engraved on one side of body in script lettering: “Sara Hightower / Corinne Hayes / Ade Lawrence / Laura Webb / Corinne Tanksley / Carolyn Pierce Martin / from / Great Great Aunt / Georgene L. Howe / 1933” and on other side of body in a different hand: “Elizabeth L. Binkley.” All engraving post-dates the period when the cup was made.
MARK: Struck on underside of base with intaglio “P.NEGRIN” mark in a serrated rectangle reserve flanked on each side by an intaglio spread-wing eagle mark in an ovoid reserve (eagles are perched atop a globe and have shields on their chests). Eagle marks are found on silver made in cities throughout America during the Federal period and may have been used by large manufacturers selling their wares to be retailed by other silversmiths and jewelers. Alternatively, eagle marks could simply have served as an informal national mark, similar to the lion’s head, thistle, and harp used, respectively, by British, Scottish, and Irish guild halls. See Catherine B. Hollan, “Eagle Marks on American Silver” (McLean, VA: Hollan Press, 2015), 11-12, 69.
MAKER: Paul Negrin (1796-1860) was born in France and emigrated to Baltimore, Maryland in 1816. He was bound as an apprentice to silversmith Lewis Poncet (w.1797-1822) and four years later was in Charlottesville, Virginia advertising that he had opened a watch and jewelry shop opposite the courthouse. While in Charlottesville, Negrin served as a translator and provided small services for Thomas Jefferson. In 1823 he was advertising his shop in Nashville, Tennessee. Five years later he married Maria Adele Labouisse (b.1806) in New York. It was Negrin’s second marriage. In 1836 he was among the nine men who signed the membership agreement of the “Association of the Watch-Makers, Silversmiths & Jewellers of Nashville” in 1836. The association established price guidelines for the manufacture and repair of clocks, watches, silver, and jewelery, all recorded in fellow silversmith John Campbell’s ledger book, now at MESDA as part of the Thomas A. Gray Rare Book and Manuscript Collection (call number TAG.096.1). Negrin continued to work in Nashville through at least 1844 but was listed in the 1850 New York City directory as a merchant. He died in 1860 and is buried in Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery. See Catherine B. Hollan, “Virginia Silversmiths, Jewelers, Watch- and Clockmakers, 1607-1860: Their Lives and Marks” (McLean, VA: Hollan Press, 2010); Benjamin H. Caldwell Jr., “Tennessee Silversmiths” (Winston-Salem, NC: Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, 1988); U.S. Census Mortality Schedules, New York, 1850-1880, Roll M3, 1860 (online: https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/8756/31817_B00466441B-00896/3082096?backurl=https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/8111984/person/24206578667/facts/citation/100314208644/edit/record [accessed 21 September 2017]);
and Gravestone for Paul Negrin(n), burial 9 April 1860, Green-Wood Cemetery, Lot 3385, Section 60 (online: http://www.green-wood.com [accessed 21 September 2017]).
FORM: Small drinking cups were popular throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Earlier examples usually have handles while nineteenth-century examples often did not. Like most silver hollowware created after the late eighteenth century, cups were most often made from a rolled sheet of silver and seamed vertically up the side, in contrast to earlier examples that were raised (hammered up) from a disc.