Curator's Choice tells the stories behind prized objects and artifacts from the collections of historical organizations and cultural institutions in Pennsylvania.

When the Heritage Center of Lancaster County , was established in 1974, a “wish list” of objects and artifacts for its permanent collection was devel­oped. The first item on this list was a communion service containing signifi­cant wares by noted Lancaster County pewterer Johann Christoph Heyne (1715-1781). In February 1997, the Heritage Center’s dream came true when it ac­quired an important communion service from the Brickerville United Lutheran Church in Elizabeth Township, Lancaster County.

The extended service consists of ten pieces, including two massive flagons by Heyne, a chalice attributed to William Will (1742-1798) of Philadelphia, a baptismal basin made between 1795 and 1810 by Connecticut pewterer Stephen Barns, and a circa 1820 beaker attributed to Thomas D. and Sherman Boardman of Hartford, Connecticut. The set also includes three plates, a wafer paten, and an unusual tankard bearing the portraits of the Prince and Princess of Orange, all by English makers working between 1709 and 1810. The assembled service spans the eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century history of the church, which first appears in records as “Warwick Congregation” and later as “Emanuel Church.” Historians date the church’s founding to the late 1730s or early 1740s.

Heritage Center staff believe it may have been the Huber family which, in 1766, commissioned Heyne to make the flagons. Bearing the heavily engraved initials “M.H.” and “W.H” – for Mary Huber and William Huber – they were among the most costly gifts to the church in the eighteenth century.

Born in Germany, Johann Christoph Heyne immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1742 in one of the larger migrations of members of the Moravian Church. Working first in Bethlehem, Northampton County, he eventually moved to Lancaster and was one of a handful of non-Philadelphia based pewterers working in colonial era Pennsylvania. (His shop was located directly across the street from the present-day Heritage Center.) Heyne’s work represents an important assimila­tion of German and English techniques; while the shapes of these flagons are derived from German and Swiss forms, the hollow-cast handles reflect English pewter-making traditions. Communion services containing known examples of Heyne’s pewter are in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut; Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, Dearborn, Michigan; and Winterthur Museum, Wilmington, Delaware.

The entire communion service has been recently installed in a permanent exhibition.

For more information, write: Heritage Center of Lancaster County, 13 West King St., Lancaster, PA 17603; or telephone (717) 299-6440. Individuals with disabili­ties who need special assistance or accommodation should telephone the center in advance to discuss their needs.