Engraved silver Presentation goblet, 1865 - Silver, interior gold-washed. Hallmarks indicate that it was made in Birmingham, England. The engraving says, “Presented / to / Alvin Boutell / by his Weavers / in Blackstone / Dec. 25. 1865” Dimensions: 6.5” H x 3.25” dia.
The recipient of this goblet, Alvin Boutell, is listed in an 1855 MA census as an overseer and in the 1870 census as “Works in cotton mill.” Boutell married Harriet Wright in December 1845. They lived in Blackstone, Mass. The village of Blackstone was built in 1809 by the Blackstone Mfg. Co. in conjunction with a new cotton spinning mill. The village became a town, and by the 1840s was an important center for textile manufacturing, incorporating the Waterford Mills, with a canal connecting the mills and the river. 720 men from Blackstone served in the Union army during the Civil War; 46 were killed. An 1865 publication by the Massachusetts Secretary of State listed 4 cotton mills in Blackstone, manufacturing 9 ½ million yards of sheetings and print cloth annually. The mills employed, collectively, 350 male and 425 female employees (children were not enumerated).
This cup is a possibly unique surviving example of a gift by mill workers to a person in authority in the mill - but not an owner. An apparent Christmas gift by a collective body of weavers to their overseer, additional research in newly digitized newspapers and textile journals may tell us more about Alvin Boutell. The 1865 date suggests a possible wedding anniversary gift for Boutell and his wife, but it might also be simply a Christmas gift, or an employment anniversary gift, or in some way related to mill production during the Civil War. In any case, the gift represents a significant degree of goodwill between the weavers and their overseer. The Boutell name is associated with textile manufacturing in several Massachusetts towns in the mid to late 19th century, and in the early 20th century also has ties to textile manufacturing in the south and midwest.