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Status: SOLD!
Date: 5/28/2009
Venue: eBay
Price: ??,???
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Antique 1853 Middlebury College Silver Water Pitcher NR

This listing is for a wonderful antique silver pitcher. What makes it special, other than the intricate design, is the inscription on the front: "Presented to J. B. Bittenger by the Students of Middlebury College 1853." According to our research, Bittenger was a professor at Middlebury during that time, in addition to being a reverend (it should be noted that the references we used had his name spelled "Bittinger"). He was a speaker at many college graduations and other special events, he was published in many different journals, and influenced a major portion of the greater New England area. We believe the pitcher itself to be made of Sterling silver, although there are no marks, while the handle appears to be a different metal. It weighs about 25 ounces. As we mentioned, the pitcher has an intricate design featuring the classic pattern of grapes and leaves. It's in very good overall condition with some dings and minor scuffs. The maker is unknown. This listing has no reserve price so don't miss your chance to win!

Approximate measurements:

- 11.5" inches high
- 7" inches long
- 4 1/4" inches in diameter at the base

Excerpt from: Sequel to Annals of Fifty Years: A History of Abbot Academy

Rev. J. B. Bittinger, Associate Principal with Mr. Asa Farwell from 1849-50a, died April 15, 1885, aged 65 years. His connection with Abbot Academy was during one brief year while Mr. Farwell was absent in Europe; but bis influence wavS very pronounced and salutary. One of his pupils, after a lapse of thirty-five years, says, " No matter what was the science or the text-book, the teacher, not the text-book, was our inspiration; we could not afford to lose one word that fell from his lips; youngest, or oldest, we listened as for our lives; every soul of us. Often we say, as we meet in these long after years, he first awakened my dormant powers ; to him I owe, more than to any other, the development of my intellect and whatever mental growth I have attained."

Dr. Bittinger was at one time a Professor in Middlebury College, Vermont, then pastor of the Euclid Avenue Presbyterian church in Cleveland, Ohio, and latest was settled over the Presbyterian church in Sewickly, Pennsylvania; a pastorate which he held, twenty-one years, till the time of his death. He became a man of power; one of his parishioners says, "His preaching was characterized by breadth of view and clearness of statement; his style was terse and forcible, yet of singular beauty. He never used manuscript, not even notes, in the pulpit; yet such was his marvellous command of language, that the critical ear failed to detect a blemish in his utterance." In January, 1884, he was overcome by a general prostration, and with his family he spent the summer in Europe lying in wait for strength; but it came slowly and with stint. After his return lie was able to preach but four sermons; in these the fire of his genius flashed with unwonted light, but they were his last. His strength was gone; he wrote a beautiful, touching farewell letter to his people, a printed copy of which is cherished in every family.

Loving and appreciative tributes to Dr. Bittinger are on record in the Abbot Courant of January, 1886.


Excerpt from: Lights and Shadows of Sewickley Life.

Dr. J. B. Bittinger was chosen pastor when the pulpit became vacant on account of the resignation of Dr. Allison because of ill health. For twenty-one years he was the devoted, dearly-loved friend as well as pastor of a congregation that, even when physical weakness prevented his being able to minister in the sanctuary, refused to have the bond between pastor and people sundered. We cull from a sketch by Mr. John Way, Jr., one of his elders and a most devoted friend, the following words:

"Joseph Baugher Bittinger was one of -a family of twelve, the offspring of German parentage. He was born March 30, 1823, at his father's farm, about three miles north of the town of Hanover, York County, Pa. At the age of twenty-one, Dr. Bittinger was graduated from Pennsylvania College, Gettysburg. Five years later, completing his theological studies at Andover Seminary, he was licensed to preach the Gospel, having spent part of the time meanwhile in teaching a private school in his native place. For one year, 1849-50, he was principal of the Abbott Female Seminary at Andover, Mass. He was then chosen professor of rhetoric and philosophy in Middlebury College, Vermont. This position he filled two years, during which (in'1851) he married Miss Catherine Forney, a young lady of Hanover, Pa. In 1852 he was ordained an evangelist at Cornwall; Vermont. About this time he was chosen pastor of the newly-formed congregation of the Euclid Avenue Presbyterian Church of Cleveland (installed in 1853), and remained until 1862. For the next two years, being disabled by rheumatism, he did little work. Recovering somewhat, he accepted a call to the Sewickley Presbyterian Church in May, 1864, and was formally installed in July. Constrained by continued ill health, he tendered his resignation as pastor of the church, February, 1885. It was reluctantly and tearfully accepted, but, at the request of the Session, the formal dissolution of the pastoral relation was not consummated, and the man beloved by all died in the arms of his people in the early morning of April 15, 1885. "Dr. Bittinger believed in the worship of work. Mere sentiment in religion, without some practical, tangible evidence of the hope that is within, found in him but little sympathy. With a clear and intensely logical mind stored with knowledge far out-reaching his profession as a minister of -the Gospel, Dr. Bittinger had a command of language and a facility of illustration which was marvellous. For many years he never wrote his sermons, and, indeed, made no previous preparations for the utterance of his thoughts. For his illustrations he trusted to the inspiration of the moment, and they were always brilliant and to the point. A marked instance of his wonderful power in extempore speaking was manifested in an address on Martin Luther which he delivered by invitation before the Presbytery of Allegheny, at the Central Presbyterian Church, Allegheny City, in November, 1883, on the occasion of the four hundredth anniversary of Luther's birth.- In the preparation of this address, which occupied nearly two hours in its delivery, no pen had been put to paper. Taken down by a skilled phonographer, and afterwards published in pamphlet form, it is a piece of polished rhetoric and unanswerable logic. "Dr. Bittinger's gifts were all of a high order. If in any one direction he excelled, it was as a teacher. He was, indeed, a teacher of teachers. His aptness of illustration came in here especially. Nor was he satisfied with his ability to illustrate; he was ever filling his mind with new facts, drawn from his personal observation and from' his extensive reading. Principles and methods of teaching were a constant study, and the teachers of Allegheny County owe more to him, perhaps, than to any other man, for original and fundamental ideas on this point."

From Miss Bittinger's " Memorials" of her father, we quote these words, written by his brother:

"During those twenty years on the banks of the Ohio, which from his study in the morning sun was ever before his eye, he had many temptations to go into what would be deemed larger fields and more inviting lines of work; but, knowing that he had the unqualified confidence of his people, I doubt if he ever seriously entertained the thought of leaving them. The field is always large enough; it is the man that is wanting. These temptations were to other churches, to chairs in colleges and seminaries, amongst them to the presidency of Washington and Jefferson College, Pennsylvania, Mr. Blaine's Alma Mater, to which he was urged by all the influence of his mother church. And to take away every impediment in his path,' a college classmate of large ideas and a generous heart stepped forward and promised the endowment of the presidency in the sum of forty thousand dollars. But to all these inducements he preferred his quiet church by the river, and the ceaseless shuttle went to and fro. Gradually, as the floods in the river abraded the banks along its sweeping tide, carrying it out into the vast ocean, so his own life was flooding out into eternity. "His study was his workshop, with a most select assortment of intellectual tools and appliances, all for use, nothing for ornament, except a few choice pictures and bronzes, notably that of the great Reformer. And here, as he rhymed it in his poem,, 'The Weaver,' published in the Atlantic Monthly, the shuttle went ever back and forth, at the fearful cost of life-blood."


The weaver sat by his burden,
Waiting the work to begin,
Dreamily throwing the shuttle
Backward and forward between;
Questioning much of the pattern,
Watching for it to be seen.

The weaver took to his bosom
The web as it fell from the loom;
In its many folds lay hidden
Whatever of light or gloom
Had come through the flying shuttle,
From the gray of dawn till doom.
Buttercups with dew besprent, B
Forget-me nots in tears,
Bedight the fabric of the loom
Through all the dawning years;
The texture of those morning hours
A fairy weft appears.
Lilies with their vestal light,
And orange blossoms pale,
Illume the woof of youthful days
And show a bridal veil-
'MIid blue-eved flax and ears of wheat,
A distaff and a flail.
Patterns of the after years,
The olive and the vine,
Adorn the richness of the folds,
Its costliest threads entwine;
And through the labors of those days
Altars and firesides shine.
Barren husks from winter fields,
And tardy asters' light,
Glint o'er the few reemaining threads
That dimmed the weaver's sight;
And then a shadow falls upon
The web, and, lo! 'tis night.

The following words, written by Thomas Patterson, Esq., one of his elders, express very beautifully the character of this great scholar, devoted pastor, and humble Christian :

When I am dead, and men shall come
To lay me in my last, long home,
Could I by chance hear what they say,
Awe-struckl and whispering round my clay.
What words would bear the sweetest tone ?
I shall not care what art hath clone,
I shall not care for trophies won;
For art, with sense, shall pass away
When I am dead;
But that, perhaps, one might be there
Could say, "He brought me strength to bear
My trial, brought me truth and light
In darkness, strove he for the right;
I think God hath him in His care,
Now he is dead.

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The winning bidder can also pick up this item at our store in Colchester, Vermont. All local pickups are subject to 7% sales tax.

Antique 1853 Middlebury College Silver Water Pitcher NR
Antique 1853 Middlebury College Silver Water Pitcher NR 1
Antique 1853 Middlebury College Silver Water Pitcher NR 2
Antique 1853 Middlebury College Silver Water Pitcher NR 3
Antique 1853 Middlebury College Silver Water Pitcher NR 4
Antique 1853 Middlebury College Silver Water Pitcher NR 5
Antique 1853 Middlebury College Silver Water Pitcher NR 6
Antique 1853 Middlebury College Silver Water Pitcher NR 7
Antique 1853 Middlebury College Silver Water Pitcher NR 8
Antique 1853 Middlebury College Silver Water Pitcher NR 9
Antique 1853 Middlebury College Silver Water Pitcher NR 10

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