From the eve of the American Revolution to the outbreak of the Civil War, Charleston, South Carolina was one of the wealthiest cities in America. The production and export of crops such as rice, indigo, and cotton allowed the city’s merchants and planters to amass immense fortunes. With their great affluence, they built grand houses and furnished them with lavish goods. Consequently, the prosperous seaport became a refuge for artisans of diverse talents who produced extraordinary works. Among them were a number of excellent silversmiths and by 1820 there were nearly 75 artisans producing extraordinary silver pieces in the Holy City. Such a number reveals not only the strength of Charleston’s colonial and antebellum economies, but also the remarkable wealth and loyal patronage of the local clientele.
This catalog features Charleston silver and other highly regarded silversmith-related historical objects from the collections of The Charleston Museum. It includes pieces both manufactured by local artisans and imported by local retailers. Each is identified by the name of the object (s), maker(s) and date(s), city of origin, and dimensions.
Many of the changing tastes and styles of Lowcountry silversmiths from the early colonial period into the twentieth century are represented here, and most pieces pictured within this catalog can be viewed within The Charleston Museum’s Christopher T. Loeblein Gallery of Charleston Silver.