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Special Fundraising Campaign: The Edward Barry Coconut Cup
A cup carved from a coconut by a Newburyport sailor has been generously on loan to the museum and on display in From High Seas to Safe Harbors for the past two years. The cup was made on board the ship Warren in 1800 and is now displayed next to the ship’s log book, which is part of the museum’s collection. We now have the exciting opportunity to add the cup to our collection, but we need your help! We are fundraising $4,000 for the purchase of this rare and significant piece.
Though its material is unusual, the cup is elegant with a gracefully curved metal handle, flared base, and exquisite carvings. Each of its three carvings is encircled by a cartouche and all are connected by carved decorative drapery running along the top rim of the cup. One vignette shows a patriotic eagle with fifteen stars and the year 1800 carved above. Another depicts the seal of Massachusetts with a Native American holding a bow and arrow, and a small star above his shoulder. When the cup was carved, the seal had been officially adopted only 25 years earlier. The third carving shows the ship Warren at sail, with undulating waves beneath and a flag flying above.
The cup bears the initials “EB” and was carved by Edward Barry. Barry sailed to the Caribbean on the Warren from 1799-1800. In June 1800, a yellow fever epidemic broke out on the ship. By July 26, sailor Joseph Whitmore noted in the ship’s log “our sickness is alarming to our crew. 22 sick and convalescence [sic].” The crew had reason to be alarmed. By the end of August, 25 men, including Captain Timothy Newman and his only son John, had perished. Perhaps distressed by the ordeal, Barry was put in irons for being drunk on August 19, according to the log book.
With its powerful local story and accompanying log book, the coconut cup would make an outstanding addition to the museum’s collections. We hope to make this a reality with your help.