“So thoroughly is the American ethos embodied in the works of American silversmiths that it has given to their product a typical identity and it never can be mistaken for that of any other country.” — Charles Messer Stow in the Introduction.
Forsaking the flourishes and ornamentation favored by their European contemporaries, early American gold- and silver smiths pioneered a new American aesthetic sensibility in creating for their well-heeled clients finely worked, luxurious metalware for the table, which was marked by a simplicity and forthrightness of design. These accomplished artisans have left us not only a stunning legacy of priceless silverware but also an opportunity to examine the culture, lifestyle, and values — in short, the developing ethos — of young America. For social and cultural historians as well as Americana buffs, the study of silversmithing in this book will provide a unique perspective on a spirited new nation.
For serious connoisseurs of American gold and silver ware, silver dealer Stephen G. C. Ensko’s American Silversmiths and Their Marks is a rich and definitive directory. Ensko has compiled an exhaustive list of over 3,000 gold- and silversmiths working between the years 1650 and 1850. Biographical details and location of their shops are given wherever possible. Maps of the great metropolitan centers of smithing (Boston, New York, and Philadelphia) with shop locations noted are appended.
Over 200 of the finest examples of the work of early American artisans are displayed in sharp, clear black-and-white photographs. Items include tankards, cups, candlesticks, sugar boxes, inkstands, tea sets, porringers, plus a pitcher, sauce dish, teapot, and other works by famous New England patriot Paul Revere.
The usefulness of this work is perhaps most apparent in the practical listing of identifying marks associated with gold- and silversmiths. With over 3,000 entries, this feature alone renders American Silversmiths and Their Marks indispensable to enthusiasts interested in tracking down and identifying antique pieces.