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Lot Number: 104
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1792-Dated Engraved Certificate of Membership to the “Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture”

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May 31st, 1792-Dated Federal Period, Copper-Plate Engraved Membership Certificate, among the very first Certificates of Membership to the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture (Incorporated in 1792), issued to founding Member “Dudley Atkins Tyng” (1760 - 1829), the First United States Collector of Newburyport, Massachusetts, under President George Washington, Choice Extremely Fine.

Exceptionally rare and beautiful in its ornate appearance, original Copper-Plate Engraved, Certificate of Membership to “The Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture.” One of the very first such “Societies” established in the United States and still in existence today.

The Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture (MSPA), one of the earliest Agricultural Societies in the United States, was incorporated in this same year of 1792. Among the founding members were Samuel Adams (who hosted the first meeting), Charles Bulfinch, Timothy Pickering, Benjamin Lincoln, Christopher Gore, and Benjamin Guild. These were presently joined by the likes of John Adams (the MSPA president from 1805 to 1813), John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry, Artemas Ward, Josiah Quincy and other national figures and many other prominent Massachusetts Founding Fathers and Revolutionary War Patriots.

This impressive Document carries the signatures of “John Avery Jr.” as Secretary, and “Thomas Russell” as President, officially being issued on May 31st, 1792. That important early date was just Six Weeks after the First Meeting of the Society, which was held in the Council Chambers of the State House in Boston (where the only business transacted was the appointment of Avery as Secretary), and it is dated Fully Two Weeks BEFORE the organization of the Society was completed on June 14th, 1792.

This beautiful and historical Document is printed on laid paper and measures about 15" x 9.25". It is dated May 31st, 1792 and was issued to “Dudley Atkins Tyng” (1760 - 1829). Tyng was the First United States Collector of Newburyport, Massachusetts, under President George Washington. This historic Certificate reads, in full:

"Commonwealth of Massachusetts. - The Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture - admitted Dudley Atkins Tyng Esqr. on the Thirty-first day of May A. D. 1792 into the said Society and granted him all the rights and privileges of a Member thereof. - In Testimony of which their Seal is Affixed. - (Signed) John Avery jun. Secy - (Signed) Thom. Russell President.”

It is boldly signed by Thomas Russell (prominent Boston businessman and Member of the General Court of Massachusetts) as President of the Society and John Avery Jr (second Secretary of State of Massachusetts after Samual Adams) as Secretary. Affixed at the upper left hand corner of the Document is the official paper and wax Embossed Seal of the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture.

This historic Document is in very pleasing condition, being complete and very attractive, with no soiling or staining and retaining significant margins on all four sides. The sheet exhibits horizontal and vertical creases as stored, and has had some separations at the folds repaired and reinforced with archival document repair tape on the reverse. An exceedingly rare, very attractive, early Federal period (1792) Copper Engraved Certificate of Membership to the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture. One of the very first Certificates issued in 1792. (See much more online!)

An eminent lawyer, Dudley Atkins Tyng was appointed in 1795 by George Washington to be Tax Collector for the District of Newburyport. As a staunch Federalist his appointment was threatened by the growth of Jeffersonian Republicanism, so in 1805 he took the position of Reporter of Decision at the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. As such, he wrote the decisions of the court, the oldest court in continuous existence in the Western Hemisphere, according to protocols and standards he developed and that continue to be used in statute law to the present. Boldly printed and signed on period laid paper with Embossed Seal of a farmer plowing at upper left, the engraved plate’s outer impression is still seen in the paper, full margins with outer sealed splits and light folds. Overall, excellent for framing and display.
Hon. Dudley Atkins Tyng, LLD. (1760 - 1829). He graduated Harvard 1781, recieved LLD. from Harvard 1823. A distinguished Lawyer. His earlier education was had under the kindly sway of Master Samuel Moody in Dummer Academy, Byfield, Newbury, Massachusetts.

He was the First U. S. Collector of Customs at Newburyport (MA), under President George Washington. Afterwards, a reporter for Massachusetts Supreme Court until his death. His reports were reknowned to stand in higher quality higher than others.

Elected member of Massachusetts Historical Society, on Apr. 30, 1793. He was much beloved and honored, of lovely character and high culture. His house in Newburyport was the resort of all men of distinction and intellect. There is a tradition that in maturer years he was urged (but declined) totake orders and accept a bishopric in the Episcopal church, which the Atkins and Tyng families seem to have ever favored. He is buried in St. Paul's Churchyard, Newburyport.

John Avery Jr. served as the Secretary of State of Massachusetts from the adoption of the Massachusetts State Constitution in 1780 until his death in 1806. He was a Boston merchant, distiller and Colonial rights activist. He was a member of the West Church, and held the office of deacon. Oct. 25, 1774, he was one of the ten persons added to the committee, "to consider of Ways & Means for employing the poor Sufferers by the operation of the Boston Port Bill, so called. "In 1780, he succeeded Samuel Adams as Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and held that office until his decease. He was also Secretary of the Massachusetts Humane Society, and was buried on the day of its semi-annual meeting.

Thomas Russell, the First President of the Society, was one of the foremost, busiest and most prosperous citizens of Boston. He was born in 1740 and died in 1796; represented Boston in the General Court, and the Constitutional Convention of 1788. He was member of the Governor's Council during the next three years. He was the First President not only of this Society but of the Massachusetts Bank, when it was organized in 1784; of the United States Branch Bank at its organization in 1792, and of the Charles River Bridge Corporation in 1785.

Russell lived on one of the finest estates in Boston, fronting on Summer street with the mansion standing at the present northerly part of Otis street, near Wiuthrop square. He had a farm of 53 acres, part of which was in Charlestown and part in Cambridge and at one time he owned the Craigie estate in Cambridge, now familiarly known as the home of Longfellow. When in 1784 (the American Revolutionary War being ended), the Continental Congress decided to sell on the stocks the new 74 gun frigate, the first ever built in Boston. He was appointed as the Agent to conduct the sale. When the frigate Constitution was launched in 1797, though he was no longer living, it was deemed worth the while to make record that the bottle of Madeira wine, with which the ship was christened, came from the cellar of Thomas Russell !

The Massachusetts Society for the Promotion of Agriculture:

The Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture (MSPA), one of the earliest agricultural societies in the United States, was incorporated in 1792. Among the founding members were Samuel Adams (who hosted the first meeting), Charles Bulfinch, Timothy Pickering, Benjamin Lincoln, Christopher Gore, and Benjamin Guild. These were presently joined by the likes of John Adams (the MSPA president from 1805 to 1813), John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry, Artemas Ward, Josiah Quincy, and other national figures from Massachusetts.

The Society's raison d'etre as stated in their petition for incorporation was to join the ranks of the agricultural societies in Britain and America, "whose particular business is to make experiments themselves and invite others thereto on the subject of agriculture... [and] to give handsome premiums to the men of enterprise who have by their inquiries made useful discoveries and communicated them to the public." Although the methods have differed somewhat over the years, the Society has never strayed from this original intention of encouraging agricultural pursuits and experiments designed to advance agricultural technology and disseminate information.

The first premiums (prizes) offered by the MSPA were $50 for "the most satisfactory account of the natural history of the canker-worm" and $100 for the cheapest and most effective method of eradicating it. Premiums were also offered for the cultivation of wheat and other grains; the improvement of land, including the reclamation of salt marshes; the raising of trees; the greatest stock maintained on the least land; the best vegetable food for wintering stock; the most and best wool from a given number of sheep; the best process for making cider, maple sugar, butter, cheese, flax, and salted provisions; and for the best farm journals, manures, tree plantations, advances in ploughs and ploughing techniques, and farms in general.

In 1801, the Society voted to establish a professorship of natural history at Harvard, which served as the origin of the Botanical Garden at Cambridge. In 1813, the MSPA began publishing semi-annually the Massachusetts Agricultural Journal, which was discontinued in 1827 when the publication of various weekly farming journals supplanted the need for a semi-annual one.

The year 1816 marked the first Cattle Show sponsored by the Society on their grounds in Brighton designated for that purpose. The Cattle Shows, which ran until 1835, were accompanied by an MSPA annual dinner, at which it was the custom to propose numerous toasts to members and guests, to the delight and amusement of all present. Among the guests in 1832 were the renowned ornithologist John James Audubon and Johann G. Spurzheim, the co-founder of phrenology. The toasts were as follows: "Our scientific countryman, John James Audubon: The flight of the eagle is not beyond his reach, nor the tenants of the poultry yard beneath his notice" and "Our honored guest, Dr. Spurzheim: He reveals to us the secret import of our 'bumps' we greet him with a bumper."

After 1835, the Society directed more effort at introducing into America improved breeds of cattle, sheep, and horses. They also voted many scholarships and grants to the State Agricultural College (now the University of Massachusetts) and other educational institutions, funded research in animal diseases such as bovine tuberculosis, and supported the Cambridge Botanical Garden and the Arnold Arboretum among many such horticultural stations. At the same time, they continued to offer premiums for the finest examples of farm products and techniques, and became involved in the many county and local agricultural societies and fairs that formed in the nineteenth century, mainly through offering prizes and prize monies to them.

In the twentieth century, the MSPA became involved with the 4-H Club, offering premiums to children involved in that organization, as well as funding the 4-H headquarters at Amherst and the junior dairy and poultry departments at the annual Eastern States Exposition in Massachusetts. They continue to fund scientific research at various educational institutions.

Lot Number: 104
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Estimate Range: $1,000 - $2,000
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