|Archie Redwood, June 23, 1856|
The only marks on the bottom were J. Conning, Mobile:
Ever the consummate researcher, I couldn't wait to get home and see if it was anything special. It's hard to imagine how much more information is available online now as compared to 9 years ago--do you ever think about that? Back then, I really couldn't find much, except for an article in Silver magazine that I could only get by purchasing the paper issue. I learned that the silversmith, James Conning left New York after 1840 to open a new shop near the waterfront in Mobile, Alabama. The only port in the state, Mobile was the center of commerce for the cotton brokers, financiers, and plantation owners.
Once the cotton was sold and the accounts were all settled, the plantation owners would use their profit to buy supplies as well as luxuries that symbolized their wealth and prosperity. My cup was a christening gift for Archie Redwood. (How I would love to know about that family!) It was handmade, as you can see from the irregularity in shape:
and the turning lines on the bottom:
Before 1859 when the Comstock Lode was discovered, silver was scarce in America. Silversmiths made their goods from melted coins or silver bars, which were 90% silver and 10% copper. Silver in this period was termed coin silver. Later, sterling, which is 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper, would become the standard.
It's crazy to think that this cup was made before the Civil War, which began in 1861. Once war looked eminent, James Conning changed his business to reflect a pressing need: swords and metal items for soldiers, like cartridge boxes, gilt fringes, and uniform buttons, as you can see in the advertisement on the right.
After the war, the South was broke, but metal- smiths in Mobile fared better than most due to the influx of people to the port. After 1865, sterling became the standard and most silver was no longer completely handmade.
How fortunate I was to stumble upon this rare and wonderful piece of history! The appraiser at the Roadshow estimated its auction value at $1000.00--it would be half that if it were not "Southern silver." I will have it appraised by a Southern silver expert one of these days, and I might sell it. For right now, it's a thrill just to own and enjoy it.
What inspired you this week? SO much! I had a difficult time choosing what to feature as everyone linked such meaningful, interesting, and beautiful posts! Debbie and Penny found amazing yard sale treasures, and Brittany hit the jackpot on a wonderful hutch. Jann, Debbie, Susan, and Penny shared beautiful 4th of July decorations. Denise and Magali were hard at work transforming furniture and a ceiling with paint. Dawn, Sarah, and Amy shared festive food that looks delish, and resourceful Naush created an inventive cupcake stand from repurposed cardboard remnants. If you haven't visited other blog party attendees this week, you can check them all out here!
I actually thought about featuring everyone, but I didn't have hours to give justice to everyone's loveliness. So I chose two bloggers that are new to the party. They both shared vintage paper, and since paper is my medium and vintage is my muse...
Danielle at Blessed Serendipity found these amazing vintage playing cards at a thrift shop for $1.00!!!!!! I am GREEN with envy! :-) I don't think I'll be able to stop looking for some now.
Maureen at Victorian Studio found wonderful vintage Halloween cutouts and decorations made by Beistle--that also make me envious, BTW! :-) The cat is my favorite, but she found many different ones mixed in a bag for $2.99. They are worth quite a lot of money. Check out her blog so you can be on the lookout when you are out thrifting!
So there you have it. I wish you a blessed, relaxing, healthy and peaceful Sunday. I can't wait to see what you link up this week! If you've been featured, please grab my button and put it on your blog. Thanks!