American Silversmiths

Jacob Hurd
Elizabeth Tufts
Jacob Hurd
Elizabeth Mason
Nathaniel Hurd


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Nathaniel Hurd
  • Born: 13 Feb 1729, Boston MA
  • Died: 17 Dec 1777, Boston MA

  General notes:

Silversmith and engraver

  Events in his life were:

  • Alternate Mark 4

  • Alternate Mark

  • Alternate Mark
  • Apprenticed circa 1742-1751 to Jacob Hurd in Boston MA 1

  • Bookplate, 1749
    Private Collection
    Originally cut for Thomas Dering, the plate was later re-cut with the name of his son, Henry Packer Dering. At least thirty-five other ex libris by his hand are known.

  • Teapot, 1755-1760
    Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 10
    h 6 1/4" (including finial)
    d: 3 3/8" (base)
    wt: 19 oz, 7 1/2 dwt
    Engraved with Stoddard arms for John and Prudence (Chester) Stoddard.

  • Cream bucket, c 1755
    Worcester Art Museum
    h: 3 1/4"
    d: 2 1/8"
    Engraved RS for Rebecca Salisbury
  • Appointed in 1759-1761 as Clerk of the market in Boston MA 4
  • Appointed in 1760-1761 as Scavenger of Ninth Ward in Boston MA 4
  • He worked in 1760-1777 as a silversmith and engraver in Boston MA 4

  • Milk pot, c 1760
    Winterthur Library 7
    h: 3 5/16"
    wt: 3 oz, 16 dwt
    Engraved L over D I for Daniel and Jerusha (Talcott) Lathrop. Also engraved C over D E for Daniel and Elizabeth (Bill) Coit.

  • Tankard, c 1760
    Private Collection
    h: 8 3/4"
    wt: 28 oz
    Engraved on the front with a bird surmounting an unidentified coat of arms (possibly the Newhall family of Concord) within a rococo cartouche, surrounded by a cornucopia and flower sprays.

  • Advertised in the Boston Gazette (Boston MA), 28 Apr 1760, that he had moved his shop ". . . from McCarty's Corner, on the Exchange, to the back part of the opposite Brick Building where Mr. Ezekiel Price Kept his Office. Where he continues to do all sorts of Goldsmith's work. Likewise engraves Gold, Silver, Copper Brass, and Steel, in the neatest Manner, and at reasonable Rates." 3
  • Boston MA, 1762: made two salvers debited in Paul Revere's account book. 3

  • Table of coins and weights, c 1765
    Memorial Hall Deerfield MA 20

  • Portrait by John Singleton Copley, c 1765
    Cleveland Museum of Fine Art
    This is Copley's first portrait to show a sitter in informal clothes. It's not surprising to learn that Hurd was a Patriot in the American Revolution and opposed to inherited wealth and privilege. No doubt he preferred to be shown in this informal way because he was a craftsman who worked with his hands. Notably, Hurd's large, expressive hands play a prominent role in the painting. Nonetheless, the fact that he surrounded himself with books makes it clear that he is not simply a manual worker, but a man of education and intelligence. The books resting beside Hurd's hands are ones he consulted in his work. The large one is Guillim's Display of Heraldry (to which Hurd often referred when he made bookplates or engraved silver vessels) and the smaller probably Sympson's "New Book of Cyphers ..." of 1726, both of which might well have belonged to his father. Moreover, his gown is not really workman's attire, but the imported silk dressing gown of a wealthy aristocrat or merchant.


  • Engraved bookplate
    Private Collection
    l: 4 1/4"
    w: 2 7/8"
    Engraved with a coat-of-arms, crest and motto above the name "Francis Dana"

  • Label, c 1765
    Private Collection
    Engraved for the cabinetmaker, Benjamin Frothingham of Charlestown.

  • Sauce boat, c 1765
    Private Collection
    h: 4 1/2"
    w: 7" (including handle)
    wt: 12.5 oz

  • Portrait of Rev Joseph Sewall, 1768
    Boston MA 26

  • Tradecard, c 1771
    American Antiquarian Society
    Engraved for Henry Knox
  • Bill for engraving services 16 Jun 1773, Boston MA. 26

    Thos. Fayerweather Esq., to Nat. Hurd, Dr. 
    To taking out Crest from Salts & putting in New1. / 4. / –
    To Mend'g Sauce pan & can– / 12. / –
    To Large Crest on Sauce pan– / 12. / –
    To taking out Arms from Coffee pott and y're arms in 2. / 5. / –
    O. tenor4. / 13. / –
    Received the above in full.
    Nath. Hurd.

  • Tradecard
    Worcester Art Museum
    Engraved for Ziphion Thayer
  • Buhler:, . 10
    He became particularly proficient as an engraver and styled himself "Goldsmith & Engraver" in his will. Revere's account book of 1762 debited Hurd for "2 small scolop'd Salvers," a chafing dish, a pair of canns, a silver frame for a picture, and, uniquely, a "Silver Indian Pipe." The following year, "mending a Picture frame" and making a snuff box complete the transactions, for which payment was prompt. Hurd cut a variety of plates for Harvard College, and a table of coins which must have been helpful to his contemporaries. He cut for James Breck, who dedicated the view to the Hon. Thomas Hubbard, a "South Prospect of the Court House, Boston" published for the first time in R.I. 1965. He died unmarried in 1777 leaving among other bequests to "Brother Benj'n Hurd 30 in tools, cloathes & some money"; to his brother-in-law "Jno Furnass ... my Volume of the Universal Dictionary of Arts & Sciences," and to his nephew "Jno Mason Furnass ... my large printing press & some tools in consideration for the love I bear to him & the genius he discovers for the same business which I have followed & to which I intended to have brought him up to." The residue of his estate was divided between Benjamin Hurd and his sisters, Elizabeth, wife of Daniel Henchman, and Ann, wife of John Furnass.

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© Wm Erik Voss 2005