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How the Loving Cup Ushered in a New Era of Honoring HMS Members

Have you heard of The Loving Cup? The double-handled tankard made of solid silver has quite the backstory, with an interesting tie to one of today’s most prestigious jewelers. 

When Dr. Gurdon W. Russell, M.D., achieved fifty years of service in the medical field, the Hartford Medical Society came together to honor one of its most esteemed members. In a society meeting on May 16, 1887, Dr. George W. Avery suggested a “Loving Cup of solid silver” in Russell’s honor. The double-handled tankard would receive the title of The Loving Cup to symbolize the society’s friendship with Dr. Russell and, upon his death, would then return to the society and be passed down to a successor. Dr. Russell also received this honor as he was an active member of the Hartford Medical Society and one of its founders.  

To oversee the process, The Hartford Medical Society organized a committee consisting of Drs. A.W. Barrows, M. Storrs, Geo. R. Shepherd, W. A. M. Wainwright, Nathan Mayer, G.P. Davis, and H.P. Stearns as the chairman. The committee considered many designs to christen the cup until they selected a design from Tiffany & Co. of New York the perfect candidate. From there, Tiffany & Co. worked on designing the cup, and by November 1, 1887, the project was complete.  

After Tiffany & Co. made the Loving Cup, the society held a dinner ceremony to present the cup to Russell to mark the significant honor. To prepare, the committee sent Dr. Russell a letter to arrange the day, and once accepted, the event took place on November 21, 1887, with dinner and music. Dr. Stearns served as the head emcee and gave opening remarks, while Dr. Russell also spoke in honor of this moment. In his speech, Dr. Russell expressed his praise and gratitude for being recognized and trusting that the society would give the Loving Cup to a worthy successor when the time came to bestow a future honor.  

Through the presentation of this artifact, a new era of prestige and recognition was born.  

For more discoveries in the collection, check out the Hartford Medical Society Collection page at