John Hancock ordered a silver sugar basin as a birthday gift for his Aunt Lydia. The sugar basin was to match the creamer pitcher he already owned. The original sugar basin, which Mr. Lapham had made many years before, had been melted recently by a maid. When John Hancock left the shop, he gave Johnny Tremain and the two other apprentices each a coin.
Johnny Tremain was confident that he could recreate the original sugar basin. A terrible accident occurred while Johnny was making the silver basin. His hand was badly burned, and he was no longer able to work as a silversmith's apprentice. His entire life changed. Desperate, Johnny went to John Hancock for help. He begged Mr. Hancock to give him a job as a cabin boy, but the man refused. Johnny left, but Mr. Hancock's slave followed him. He gave Johnny a purse full of coins from Mr. Hancock:
Johnny took the purse. It was heavy. That much copper would provide him with food for days. He opened it. It was not copper, but silver. John Hancock had not been able to look at the crippled hand--nor could he help but make this handsome present (Johnny Tremain, page 65).