Appraisal Video: (3:44)
Decorative Arts, Glass, Pottery & Porcelain, Silver
Vice President of Special Collections
GUEST: Well, then, if you're not familiar with Kentucky and the Kentucky Derby, that's a mint julep cup, one of these things that you use once a year, probably, and always have to polish before you can use it. And I inherited it through my family.
APPRAISER: Okay, now, do you drink mint juleps out of it?
GUEST: I have drunk mint juleps out of it, but it's not my favorite drink.
APPRAISER: Not your thing. Well... The mint julep, of course, is an American invention-- bourbon is an American invention-- and we associate the mint julep largely with Kentucky and Tennessee, and the mint julep cup is a classic American silver form, and a lot of them come from Kentucky originally. Kentucky has a great history of silversmiths. Do you know who these people are? You say it's been in your family. Is this a family engraving?
GUEST: Yes, it is. This is my great-grandfather. And it says, "To S.E.N." The "S.E.N." stands for "Susan Emilia Norton," my great-grandmother. I assume he gave it to her on some special occasion. I wonder, and I have two of them. I have another one just like it, and I don't know whether this was maybe a wedding gift or an anniversary gift or... I don't know what the gifting procedures were back in that time, either.
APPRAISER: Well, not much different than they are today. I suspect an anniversary. By the way, if you have two of them and they're the same, you don't have two, you have "a pair," which is always nicer than "two." Let me turn it over and look at the bottom of it. It's got a mark on the bottom, which is a very familiar Louisville mark, a very familiar Louisville silversmith named William Kendrick. And William Kendrick was born, actually, up in New Jersey in 1810, and he became an orphan very early in his life, and was adopted by a family that lived in Louisville. And he began his apprenticeship here as a jeweler and silversmith and became very good at it, and by the 1830s, 1840s, he was active as a silversmith and silver dealer-retailer. He imported silver from the Northeast-- New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania-made silver-- and sold it here and also made pieces himself and engraved pieces here in Louisville. His family kept going, by the way, in Louisville
APPRAISER: and ran a silversmithing business until it closed in the Depression. Closed in 1932. Now, there's been a lot of interest, in the last generation or so, in collecting what we call "regional American silver," and Kendrick is a good name and every regional American silver collector, especially if they collect Kentucky silver, wants a mint julep cup. Yours is a great one for a lot of reasons. One-- it's got the right mark on it to identify it here. It's got an engraving on it, which dates it to a local family, probably, I would think, in the 1840s or 1850s. Does that sound about right when you...?
GUEST: That-- it would fit in with the time frame of the early marriage of this couple, I think,
APPRAISER: That makes sense.
GUEST: so I think it would be logical, yes.
APPRAISER: Yeah, I would think it's just before the Civil War, anyway, probably in the 1850s. And a good one like this today, at auction, it would probably bring, by itself, close to $2,000. Now, if you have a pair of them,
GUEST: I do.
APPRAISER: the pair is actually worth more than double the price of one, if you know what I mean.
GUEST: Uh-huh, yes.
APPRAISER: So I would think a pair of them at auction-- somewhere between $4,000 and $5,000. It's a beautiful mint julep cup and I, uh, I thank you for bringing it today.
GUEST: Well, thank you so much for your information. You've been very helpful and I'll treasure it. I will keep it for my children, hand it down in my family.