The pewter baptismal and Communion vessels that were purchased by the church in 1780 represent one of the finest collections of Pennsylvania German pewter in existence, according to Dr. Donald Herr, who featured a photograph of the pieces on the back cover of his book "Pewter in Pennsylvania German Churches." Pewter is an alloy of tin mixed with bismuth or antimony and was popular during the colonial era.
The baptismal basin (on the front, left in the photograph) was crafted by Townsend and Compton of London. The 8-inch basin has a rogue hammered bottom and is stamped with the marking C4800.
The paten (or plate--front, right in the photograph) is used for holding the host, and was made by Johann Christopher Reyne of Lancaster, PA between 1752-1780. It is marked on the bottom with L 532, 533.
The remaining four pieces in the collection are attributed to William Will of Philadelphia, PA. William Will was one of the most productive and talented pewterers in colonial America. He was also a noted patriot. During the American Revolution, he organized a company of infantry, rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, was elected high sheriff of Philadelphia, and served as a representative to the General Assembly. His work is of the finest quality and craftsmanship. These pieces were made between 1764-1780.
The ewer or baptismal pitcher (leftmost in the rear) features a double C scroll handle with acanthus leaf decoration and a beaded trim around its base and top edge.
The flagon (second from left in the rear of the photograph) is used to pour the Communion wine. There are only four known examples of a Will flagon bearing this unique Federal design and is accentuated with five rows of beaded decoration. The handle is hollow in the English tradition and was crafted using slush casting. At the same time, the spout features a more Germanic influence. A large number of pieces had to be cast in its construction.
The chalice is also beaded and has a narrow stem. One interesting feature about this piece is that the base is simply composed of an upside-down cup.
The ciborium (rear, right), which is used to store the eucharistic host much like a sugar bowl, is the piece-de-resistance of the service. This is the only William Will ciborium known to have such a standard (or foot). Notice that the base of this piece matches those for the ewer and flagon.
But perhaps what is most remarkable about this collection is that the service has been used regularly throughout the long history of the church and is still in use today.
A copy of Dr. Herr's book and a 30-min narrated video of his description of the pewterware following the 250th anniversary service are available in the church office.