18th-Century American Silver Collection

Value (2006) | $11,000 Auction$16,500 Auction

GUEST:
Well, it came from my grandmother, and she was from Brooklyn, and, uh, she was Dutch. Her family came to the U.S. in 1660. She used it, and then she left it to me, and I lent it to my parents, and when my parents passed away, they gave it back to me. And this, I believe, is American silver, but I don't know exactly who the makers were or where it came from.

APPRAISER:
Well, it is American, as you suspected, and it is late 18th century, which is very unusual for American silver. As you know, uh, the United States was quite sparsely populated--

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
--at that time, and most of the silver in the United Sates was being imported from England, so to find American silver of this vintage is quite unusual. You have a lovely assembled tea set here, and what is so interesting about it is that it is identical in form and design, but the pieces are made by different makers. They are classically designed, which is typical of the American Federal period.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
And they all three have that exact identical monogram and cartouche. This piece, however, has a maker's mark under the bottom, which you can see is Woods, and that is for a New York State silversmith whose name was Freeman Woods. And he worked only for a brief time in New York between 1791 and 1794, and as your family was from New York at that time, we can assume it was during that time. He did continue to work after 1794, but he had relocated to North Carolina at that time.

GUEST:
I see.

APPRAISER:
So this pretty well dates this to those three years that he was working in New York.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
Now, the teapot is also marked on the bottom. And it's marked with an "I.V." And that is the maker's mark for a silversmith named John Vernon, who was working in New York from 1768 to 1786. The cream pitcher is not marked, so, um, we can assume that it is most likely by one or the other of these silversmiths, but it's not uncommon for American silver of that period to be unmarked. In particular, creamers, because that seems to be one of the more common forms that have survived.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
And one of the more common forms that were made, aside from spoons. It does have the same exact foot as the tea urn, so I'm going to say probably also by Freeman Woods.

GUEST:
Freeman Woods.

APPRAISER:
It's also not unusual to see silver at this vintage to be made by different makers, because people would say, I need a teapot, and they would have that made, and then, as an afterthought, have the other pieces made. The idea of a set is really more of a 19th century convention--

GUEST:
I see, I see.

APPRAISER:
--than it was a 17th or 18th century convention.

GUEST:
Interesting. I didn't know that.

APPRAISER:
Now, I would probably evaluate them as individual pieces. The, uh, sugar urn-- because it's the most sought-after piece, and people collect those separately-- I would estimate in the $5,000 to $8,000 range at auction.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
The teapot, because it is a nice form, and they are, by the way, in incredible condition, I would estimate similarly at $5,000 to $7,000. And, uh, the creamer-- probably in the neighborhood of, uh, $1,000 to $1,500.

GUEST:
That's wonderful. Yeah. Great. Thank you.

APPRAISER:
You're welcome. Very nice. So, what are you going to do with them now?

GUEST:
Put them in the safe.

APPRAISER:
And you don't have tea parties?

GUEST:
No, we don't have tea parties, no. (laughs) Maybe we should have. (laughs)

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Doyle New York
Washington, DC
Appraised value (2006)
$11,000 Auction$16,500 Auction
Event
Honolulu, HI (August 26, 2006)
Period
18th Century
Material
Silver

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