Our Museum Feature this newsletter is a beautifully crafted sterling silver trophy created by Tiffany & Co. sometime between 1902 and 1907. The trophy was commissioned by John Watson Cox of New York City to honor John B. McDonald, and was presented to the Oakland Golf Club. This large piece weighs more than 250 troy ounces, and has an estimated value of more than $100,000.00.
John B. McDonald (1844-1911) emigrated to the United States from Ireland at a young age. With very little schooling in Ireland, and no formal education in engineering or architecture in Ireland or the U.S., McDonald is credited with building the tunnel system for the New York City subway system. A successful construction entrepreneur, he was also instrumental in the early years of the Oakland Golf Club, founded in New York in 1896. "The New York Times" noted in an article dated March 16, 1911, that at a business meeting at Delmonico’s in New York, an important lease for the Oakland Golf Club had just been extended, protecting the club financially. One of the principal leaseholders was McDonald. Part of the financial arrangement involved purchasing shares in the club. To join "there is a waiting list of about twenty names," the article in the "Times" stated, "and it will be obligatory on each new member to buy five shares of the stock, besides paying the initiation fee of $100 and the usual dues of $75."
Just five days later, March 21, 1911, "The New York Times" reported McDonald’s funeral. A requiem mass was sung at St. Patrick’s Cathedral at 10:30 in the morning. During the service, the cars on the New York subway system were stopped on their tracks, with passengers aboard. Electricity was cut off, so the system was plunged into darkness for two minutes, in honor of McDonald’s work on the system. "All the employees of the Subway removed their caps," the "Times" wrote, "and stood bareheaded until the lights were turned on again." The mass was attended by many city dignitaries, including delegates from the Engineers’ Club, the Manhattan Club, and the Oakland Golf Club.
Befitting the club’s name, artfully rendered oak leaves decorate the base and top of the trophy. On one side of the bowl is a bust of McDonald; on the other is the embossed notation, "The Oakland Golf Club McDonald Trophy." In its time the club was one of the wealthiest in the East. In the early 1960s, however, the City of New York bought the Golf Club property and on its newly acquired land built Queensborough Community College, Benjamin Cardozo High School, and P.S. 203.
For more than 170 years, Tiffany & Co. has represented the pinnacle of American wealth, glamour, and luxury. On September 18, 1837, Charles Lewis Tiffany and John B. Young opened an emporium for luxury goods on Broadway in New York City. Tiffany made a splash in the fancy goods world by establishing nonnegotiable prices for all items sold in the store, contrary to the custom of dickering over price, and by introducing its world-famous "Tiffany Blue Box." All merchandise purchased from Tiffany was wrapped in distinctive blue boxes; today, the Tiffany box is trademarked.
Long recognized for magnificent and innovative jewelry designs, Tiffany & Co. over the years has also custom-designed some the of the world’s most famous trophies. As early as 1857, Tiffany & Co. crafted a sterling silver vegetable dish and cover for the New York Yacht Club commemorating the victory of the sloop, "Julia," in the club’s annual regatta. In 1860 the company created the Woodlawn Vase for a horse racing association in Louisville, KY. This trophy was presented to the Maryland Jockey Club, to be awarded the winner of the Preakness Stakes, the second jewel in thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown. For the sport that would become known as America’s pastime, in 1888 Tiffany & Co. created the Hall Championship Cup, the first world championship baseball trophy, and would go on to create the World Series Trophy used today. The company has also produced the NFL Vince Lombardi Super Bowl Trophy, the Larry O’Brien National Basketball Association Championship Trophy, the United States Open Tennis Championship Trophy, and has designed a trophy for the NASCAR auto racing series.
While the Tiffany & Co. "John B. McDonald Trophy" in our museum is not for sale, Replacements, Ltd. has a number of Tiffany & Co. sterling silver patterns available for purchase, as well as a fantastic variety of patterns on file in sterling silver, silverplate, stainless steel, pewter, and gold electroplate – more than 34,000 patterns, and counting! Be sure to browse our web site. And remember that we always invite you to visit our facilities! Here you’ll find a stunning variety of silver, china, crystal, and collectibles! Our showroom and museum are open from 9:00am to 7:00pm ET, 7 days a week (except holidays); free tours are available from 10:00am to 6:00pm ET, 7 days a week. The showroom and museum are conveniently located between Greensboro and Burlington, NC, at exit 132 off Interstate 85/40. We look forward to seeing you!