George Aiken Coin Silver Tankard, ca. 1790

Value (2010) | $12,000 Auction$15,000 Auction

My boyfriend passed away a few years back, and it's from his estate.

It is an 18th-century American tankard, and this is made of coin silver, which was what they used in the late 18th century into the mid-19th century in the United States. There was not a tremendous amount of silver made in the United States in the 18th century. Not a lot of it has survived, either. Most silver at that time was imported from England, because that's where all silver craftsmen were in the late 18th century, for the most part. There were some very good silver makers, and they were in the more metropolitan areas, and Baltimore at that time was a major port city. So it is made by George Aiken, who was a prominent Baltimore silversmith, and he did make a tremendous amount of silver, actually, and a lot of it has survived. It's marked very clearly on the bottom with his mark, and that mark has his first initial, G, and Aiken, his last name, and that was a mark that was used around 1790. He began making silver in Baltimore as early as 1787, which is when he first ran some ads in the local papers. What struck me most interesting about it was that they made lots of spoons and lots of small cream pitchers, but not a lot of large hollowware. You do see it in America in the 18th century, but it's primarily in the northern part of the country. Another thing that's interesting about it is the name on it. It has two names, Griffith and Lee, and I learned from the Baltimore Historical Society that Griffith was actually a very prominent merchant family in Baltimore in the late 18th and early 19th century, and then, of course, the Lees were very, very famous in the Baltimore, Annapolis, Maryland, and Virginia area. So, what did you pay for it?

I paid the... into the estate I paid $1,000 to get this.

And do you have any idea what it might be worth, or any thoughts about what it might be worth?

I had it appraised about seven years ago, by somebody who was not specific on the silver appraising. Thought it was worth about $6,000.

I would think if this came up to auction today, it would conservatively bring $12,000 to $15,000, maybe as much as $15,000 to $20,000.


It's a very rare example by a Southern colonial silversmith, and whenever it comes up, they do really fight for it hard, so there'd be a lot of competition if it did come up for sale.

Okay, well, that's wonderful to know.

Appraisal Details

Doyle New York
Washington, DC
Appraised value (2010)
$12,000 Auction$15,000 Auction
Washington, DC (August 21, 2010)
Coin Silver

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