A Loving Cup Comes Home, to the 92nd Street Y
In 1900, the Manhattan philanthropist Jacob H. Schiff received a surprise gift from some people he had helped: a silver trophy the size of a punch bowl. Officially known as a loving cup, it is inscribed with text in ruffled and blocky typefaces, thanking him for financing the Young Men’s Hebrew Association building on Lexington Avenue at 92nd Street. In 2016, the trophy surfaced unexpectedly at M.S. Rau Antiques in New Orleans, and in March, it will go on public view in a mirrored hall at the facility Mr. Schiff helped found, now known as the 92nd Street Y.
Jo Frances Brown, who runs the 92nd Street Y’s programs for seniors, spotted the trophy at the store, and the Y bought it for about $25,000. One side is etched with an image of the original four-story Neoclassical building, which was razed and replaced with the current structure in 1928. Henry Timms, the executive director of the 92nd Street Y, said the upcoming display of the object is timed for celebrations of a fund-raising campaign for $180 million worth of renovations, additions and other upgrades.
No one knows who designed or made the trophy; the only prominent mark on its base is a cryptic “3154.” Joseph P. Brady, a silver historian and appraiser in Atlanta, said he suspects the maker was the Whiting Manufacturing Company, a New York business known for applying elaborate fonts on custom vessels. He added that it is not unusual for forgotten trophies emerging on the market to be repatriated by the families or institutions that had originally commissioned them.
“They do end up back where they belong,” he said.