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Atsidi, Sani (1830–1917), Navajo silversmith, was born in Navajo country in present-day Arizona near Canyon de Chelly, a member of the Dibelizhini (Black Sheep) clan. His parents’ names and occupations are unknown. Given the era, it is safe to assume that his parents were typical members of Navajo society who raised sheep and farmed. As a young man, Atsidi Sani, or Old Smith in English, learned ironwork from a Mexican in the Mount Taylor area of western New Mexico. Nakai Tsosi (Thin Mexican), as the Navajos called him, apparently became friends with Atsidi Sani despite the frequent conflict between their two peoples during this period. Atsidi Sani’s initial efforts with ironwork concentrated in a commercially profitable endeavor: he learned to make bridles. Navajos who previously had been compelled to purchase bridles for their horses from Mexican ironworkers could now turn to a local source....

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Codman, William Christmas (25 December 1839–07 December 1921), designer, was born in Norfolk, England. Information about Codman’s parents and his years in England remain elusive. A member of the Masonic fraternity, Codman married Emma Rolle in 1865; they had six children. After studying painting and drawing in Norwich, Codman’s first significant employment took place at Ely Cathedral, on the Isle of Ely, in Cambridgeshire. He assisted T. Gambier Parry, the artist in charge of painting the nave ceiling, during the cathedral’s restoration between 1858 and 1862. Sometime afterward Codman worked as a especially of ecclesiastical ware. In that capacity, he is believed to have worked for Sir Gilbert Scott, one of the most important architects in nineteenth-century England. Codman’s work included communion plate for the See of Liverpool and the Memorial Chapel in Delhi, India; candelabra for St. Paul’s in London; lighting fixtures for the Luxembourg Cathedral; and, likely, ecclesiastical ware for Westminster Abbey. Later, Codman worked for Elkington and Company, the well-known Birmingham firm that introduced the technique of electroplating silver. He served as chief designer for the prestigious London silversmithing company Cox and Son. Besides his success with silver, Codman also became involved in furniture making. Between 1884 and 1887 he supervised the construction of furniture designed by the English painter Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema for the company of Messrs. Johnstone, Norman & Company of London....

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Dummer, Jeremiah (14 September 1645–25 May 1718), silversmith and engraver, was born in Newbury, Massachusetts, the son of Richard Dummer, a farmer, miller, and large landowner, and Frances Burr. Nothing is known of Jeremiah Dummer’s early schooling. In 1659, at age fourteen, Dummer was apprenticed for a period of eight years to the colony’s noted silversmith and mint master, ...

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Fitch, John (21 January 1743–June or July 1798), inventor and craftsman, was born in Windsor, Connecticut, the son of Joseph Fitch and Sarah Shaler, farmers. His father came from neighboring Hartford and his mother from Bolton. His mother died before he was five; his father married Abigail Church of Hartford two years later. Most of what is known about Fitch comes from an autobiographical sketch written between 1790 and 1792, when he was alone and embittered, convinced that he had been cheated by life. Although he had by then put aside the Calvinistic Presbyterianism of his upbringing and replaced it with a rationalistic deism, he still tended to pass judgment on those he felt had failed him. His memories of childhood were few and unhappy. He described his father as uncaring, even tyrannical. Unjust treatment by an older brother “forbode” his “future rewards,” he reminisced—with the irony intended ( ...

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Hull, John (18 December 1624–30 September 1683), goldsmith, mintmaster, and merchant, was born in Market Hareborough, Leicestershire, England, the son of Robert Hull, a blacksmith, and Elizabeth Storer. He came to Boston with his family in 1635 and was trained as a goldsmith (synonymous with silversmith) by Richard Storer, his half-brother, between about 1639 and 1646....

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Hurd, Jacob (12 February 1703–17 February 1758), silversmith, was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, the son of Jacob Hurd, a joiner, and Elizabeth Tufts. He served a seven-year apprenticeship, probably with one of the Edwards family of Boston, prior to establishing a shop of his own about 1724. In May 1725 he was married to Elizabeth Mason. They had fourteen children, including ...

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Hurd, Nathaniel (13 February 1730–17 December 1777), noted silversmith and engraver, was born in Boston, the son of Jacob Hurd, the leading Boston silversmith of his era, and Elizabeth Mason. He was enrolled at the Boston Latin School in 1738 and was probably also apprenticed to his father. Hurd seems to have begun his career in his father’s shop in the late 1740s. By 1760 he was working independently at his own shop on the Exchange in Boston, where “he continues to do all sorts of Goldsmith’s Work” and “Likewise engraves in Gold, Silver, Copper, Brass, and Steel, in the neatest manner, and at reasonable Rates” (...

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Kirk, Samuel Child (15 February 1793–06 July 1872), silversmith, was born in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, the son of Joseph Kirk and Grace Child. Many of his ancestors had been English silversmiths. Kirk attended a Quaker Friends’ school and in 1810 was apprenticed to James Howell, a Philadelphia silversmith. Howell died before Kirk completed the standard seven-year apprenticeship. Kirk then took charge of Howell’s shop until he turned twenty-one, when he decided to move to Baltimore, Maryland, to pursue his own business. His move coincided with the Maryland legislature’s introduction of a new law that regulated the silver standard and established the Baltimore Assay Office. Unique to the city, the law took effect on 1 August 1814, and it required silver objects made or sold in Baltimore to contain no less than eleven ounces Troy (equal to 91.7 percent pure silver alloy). A smith paid an appointed assayer to test, weigh, and then mark his silver with the approved marks of quality: a dominical letter specific to a particular year and the head of Mercury, the Roman god of commerce....

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Le Roux, Bartholomew (1663– August 1713), silversmith, was born in Amsterdam, Holland, the son of Pierre Le Roux, a goldsmith, and Jannetje (maiden name unknown). The son of French Huguenot exiles, Pierre emigrated to London in 1680 and became a naturalized citizen in 1682. Jane and the children followed in 1683, possibly remaining in Amsterdam until Bartholomew completed his apprenticeship....

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Moore, Edward Chandler (30 August 1827–02 August 1891), designer and silversmith, was born in New York City, the son of John Chandler Moore, a silversmith, and Margaret (maiden name unknown). He apprenticed with his father, who produced silver for John P. Marquand and for Ball, Tompkins, and Black, and then he became his father’s partner in 1848, when he turned twenty-one years of age. By 1851 he took over his father’s shop and began an association with Tiffany and Company that would last four decades....