MHS Madness64 of our favorite items in head-to-head competition

In honor of our 225th anniversary—and this time of year—the MHS hosted a tournament to select the favorite object from the Society’s collection. The 64 competitors, divided into four centuries of American history, were hand-picked to showcase the range of items in our collection.

View the Full Bracket


Click completed rounds to view final vote counts.

FINAL RESULTS FOR:Round 1: 17th Century

Matchup 1

John Winthrop journal, History of New England (manuscript), volume 1, page 1

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Unus Americanus ex Virginia. Aetat 23

This unidentified 23-year-old Virginia native was drawn from life by Wenceslaus Hollar in the conventional half-length view used by European artists of the time. Hollar was a Bohemian artist from Prague who worked in London as an engraver from 1637 to 1644.

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Matchup 2

The Wonders of the Invisible World

Clergyman, author, and scholar Cotton Mather became known as the chief apologist for the Salem witchcraft trials with the publication of his The Wonders of the Invisible World in 1693. The book was controversial because it seemed to contradict Mather's earlier arguments for moderation and leniency.

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A Map of New England

A Map of New England, the first map known to be published in the English colonies of North America, is probably also the first published in the Western Hemisphere. The map is attributed to John Foster, a mathematician and schoolmaster, who was the only Bostonian known to make woodcuts during this period.

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Matchup 3

Genesis, chapter 1, verses 1-24, of the "Eliot Indian Bible"

In 1663, Christian missionary John Eliot published this translation of the Holy Bible in Massachuset, the language spoken by Native Americans in eastern New England. It was the first Bible printed in any language in North America and the largest single printing venture of the early colonial period.

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Matanzas, Cuba. Dutch capture Spanish Treasure fleet, 1628

This medal commemorates a naval battle during the Eighty Years' War in which a Dutch squadron led by Admiral Piet Heyn defeated an entire Spanish treasure fleet in Matanzas Bay, Cuba. Struck in silver captured during that action, the medal features a map of the Western hemisphere and a depiction of the battle.

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Matchup 4

Pocket watch belonging to Cotton Mather

This watch, made by master clockmaker Daniel Quare of London, belonged to the Puritan clergyman Cotton Mather. According to family tradition, it was "carried by him among the Indians, who, hearing the ticking, were frightened and thought he carried the Devil in his pocket, and ran away from him."

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Paine Family Press Cupboard

This press cupboard, one of the finest examples of colonial New England joined furniture, has remained virtually unchanged in the 340 years since its creation. More than a dozen pieces attributed to this unidentified cabinet maker's shop, distinguished by their complex joinery and sophisticated designs, remain in public or private collections in New York and New England.

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Matchup 5

Bowl attributed to the Wampanoag

Samp, or nasaump, the Algonquian term for porridge made from ground Indian corn, was served in carved elm burls like this one, crafted by the Wampanoag tribe. Only seven Algonquian bowls are known to exist. Purchased for the MHS in 1804, it is believed the bowl once belonged to Metacom, or King Philip, the Wampanoag chief who united the fractious New England tribes against the expanding population of colonists.

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New England Threepence

By an act of 26-27 May 1652, the Massachusetts General Court established a mint in Boston, trespassing upon the Crown's prerogative to mint coins. These small coins represent New England's growing sense of identity as separate from the mother country and its determination to regulate its own economy without British interference.

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Matchup 6

Samuel Sewall diary, 1685-1703, page with entry for 19 September 1692

Samuel Sewall served as one of the judges at the infamous Salem witch trials in 1692 and, on 19 September, described in his diary the gruesome torture and death of Giles Corey. Corey was pressed to death "for standing mute," that is, refusing to answer his indictment for witchcraft.

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Columnan à Præfecto prima navigationelocatam venerantur Floridenses

This engraving, after a watercolor by Jacques le Moyne, shows Chief Athore and René de Laudonnière at the site of Jean Ribaut's column marking France's annexation of Florida. The engraving was published in 1591 in Theodor de Bry's America, the first illustrated general account of the discovery and exploration of the Americas.

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Matchup 7

Letter from William Bradford to John Winthrop, 11 April 1638

In this letter to Gov. John Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Gov. William Bradford of Plymouth Colony refers to "Mrs. Huchingson" (Anne Hutchinson), who was labeled an "Antinomian" and heretic, banished from Massachusetts Bay, and excommunicated from the church. Bradford asks about the rumor that she delivered a stillborn baby to her supporter Mary Dyer.

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Mrs. Baker

This portrait of Mrs. Baker by an unidentified artist is one of a set of eight portraits of family members painted in London in the 1670s. The naturalistic painting shows the pouches under her eyes, loose jowls, and prominent nose. Mrs. Baker exemplifies middle-class prosperity, both in her dress and her accoutrements.

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Matchup 8

Receipt to William Pincheon [Pynchon] for £25 in payment for stock in the Massachusetts Bay Company

William Pynchon was one of the original English Puritan founders of the Massachusetts Bay Company. This receipt reflects his £25 purchase of a share of stock in the "adventure." He left England for the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630 and was instrumental in the settlement of Roxbury and Springfield, Mass.

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Americae Nova Tabula

Dutch cartographer Willem Blaeu's colorful map of the Americas incorporates rich detail and decorative elements. Top and side panels contain illustrations of cities, harbors, and native people of various regions, and the oceans are full of ships and sea monsters. While most contemporary mapmakers depicted California as an island, Blaeu rendered it as a peninsula.

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