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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....

Article

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....

Article

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....

Article

Gerald W. R. Ward

Myers, Myer (1723–12 December 1795), silversmith, was born in New York City, the son of Solomon Myers, a shopkeeper, and Judith (maiden name unknown), who had emigrated from Holland at an earlier, unknown date. The Myers family belonged to Congregation Shearith Israel, commonly known as the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, in New York, and Myer probably received his earliest education there....

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Revere, Paul ( December 1734–10 May 1818), craftsman, patriot, and businessman, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Paul Revere, a goldsmith, and Deborah Hichborn (or Hitchborn). Revere’s father, born Apollos Rivoire, emigrated from France to Boston in 1715 at the age of thirteen and apprenticed with John Coney, a prominent local gold/silversmith. Shortly before his marriage he changed his name, first to Paul Rivoire and then to Paul Revere. The son’s birth date has long been the source of confusion since only his baptismal date, 22 December 1734 OS and 1 January 1735 NS, is recorded. Revere’s early life, fairly typical of boys of his day and economic status, included basic schooling at the North Writing School. During his teens he entered into a formal agreement with fellow North End youths to ring the bells at Christ Church for a fee. Revere’s own words, “My Father was a Goldsmith. … I learned the trade of him,” confirm that as the eldest surviving son, he apprenticed with his father, thus beginning his most enduring occupation. Though overshadowed by the fame of his son, the elder Revere’s skill as a gold/silversmith may actually have equaled that of his son. The younger Revere noted that his father died “in the year 1754, he left no estate, but he left a good name.” Just nineteen years old, Revere ran the shop with the help of his mother. In 1756 he received a commission as a second lieutenant of artillery and spent the better part of a year on an unsuccessful expedition to capture the French fort at Crown Point on Lake Champlain....

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Paul Revere. Drawing by Charles Févret de Saint-Mémin. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-7407).

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Richardson, Joseph (17 September 1711– October 1784), silversmith, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Francis Richardson, a and Elizabeth Growden. His grandfather was one of the original settlers of Pennsylvania in 1681. Joseph Richardson served his apprenticeship in his father’s shop. When his father died in 1729, Joseph inherited the business. He married Hannah Worril in 1741; they had two children before her death in 1746. Two years later Richardson married Mary Allen, with whom he had three daughters and two sons, who were trained in his shop. After Richardson’s retirement in 1777, his sons took over, continuing the family trade until Nathaniel Richardson became an ironmonger in 1790 and Joseph Richardson, Jr., was appointed assayer of the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia by ...

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Stone, Arthur John (26 September 1847–06 February 1938), silversmith, was born in Sheffield, England, the son of Joseph Stones (the s was dropped later) and Ann Mills. Stone’s father, a prospector who was fatally injured while hunting for gold in Australia, died when Arthur was only seven. As a result, Stone was forced to go to work and terminate his early education in church schools. In 1861 he was apprenticed to Edwin Eagle of Sheffield, a master silversmith who still practiced traditional handcraft methods. At the completion of his training in 1868 Stone practiced his craft in Edinburgh for a year before returning to Sheffield, where he eventually landed a position with James Dixon and Sons. In the fall of 1884 Stone set out for America, seeking greater opportunity in the New World....

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Syng, Philip, Jr. (29 September 1703–08 May 1789), silversmith, was born in the diocese of Cloyne, Cork, Ireland, the son of Philip Syng, a and Abigail Murdock. The family, of English origin, had settled in Ireland about the time of the reign of James I. The family emigrated from Bristol, England, and landed in Annapolis, Maryland, on 29 September 1714. By November of that year they had settled in Philadelphia, where the elder Syng set up his shop. Philip Syng, Jr., completed his apprenticeship at age twenty-one, and in November 1725 he sailed to England on the ship ...

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Welles, Clara (04 August 1868–14 March 1965), silversmith and designer, was born Clara Pauline Barck in New York City, the daughter of John Barck and Margaret Bowman, both of Scandinavian descent. After Clara’s birth the Barcks moved to Oregon. In the late 1890s she left the Pacific Northwest to enroll in the Department of Decorative Design at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Influenced by C. R. Ashbee and the English Arts and Crafts movement, she graduated from the school in 1900, and in September of that year she opened the Kalo Shop (“Kalo” derives from the Greek word for beautiful) at 175 Dearborn Avenue in Chicago. Staffed by young women known as the Kalo girls, the shop produced a variety of craft wares including burnt-leather and base-metal goods. In 1902 the Kalo Shop displayed their wares at the first annual arts and crafts exhibition of the Chicago Art Institute. The firm continued to exhibit there until 1921....