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Myer Myers, Famous New York Silversmith

Although silversmiths in the other colonies of eighteenth-century America followed English forms and styles closely, those of New York were influenced first by the Dutch and then later by the English. The result was a style combining both Dutch and English features. The workers were of varied national strains-Dutch, English, French, and occasionally Hebrew.

Myer Myers (1723-1795) was a Hebrew and an outstanding silversmith. His working years covered over half a century and during it he produced a quantity of silver ranging from tankards to teaspoons. He maintained a good sized shop with several journeyman, was a prominent Mason, and in 1776 was elected president of the New York Silversmiths Society.

In addition to tankards, coffee pots, teapots, beakers, and other household wares, he produced fine ecclesiastical pieces for both synagogues and churches. None of his silver was ornate. His only oncession to the prevailing rococo fashion was the scroll-molded spout and cone finial on some of his coffee pots. A tankard made in 1750 for Daniel Shelton of Stratford, Connecticut, is a good example of his restraint in decorative detail . The plain cylindrical ehape tapers from a molded base to a low domed cover which has a scalloped frontal chased with leaf scrolls. There is a scrolled thumbpiece decoration on the strap handle which ends in a heart-shaped pendant. A monogram is engraved on the center of the cover, "D.S." for the original owner. The engraved initials "J.S." were added when the piece passed to his daughter, Jane. The maker's touch mark, "Myers," occurs on the bottom of the tankard and once on the inside of the cover. This piece was owned by three generations of the Shelton family and then was sold at auction for $1,250.

Like a number of other American silversmiths, Myer Myers had several touch marks. They are "MM" in Roman capitals joined in a lozenge; "MM" in script in a rectangle; "Myers" in script in a lozenge; and "Myers" in italics in a rectangle.

A fair amount of Myers silver is still in existence. When it has been left in its original state it eagerly sought by silver collectors. Some of it has unfortunately been tampered with -a spout added to convert a tankard into a teapot, or a plain beaker dressed up with Victorian repousse design and a handle added. Such transformations undoubtedly gave great pleasure to owners of old silver at the time since the result was a handsome up-to-date piece, but today the value of such a piece is only a quarter of what it would have been had it been left as it came from the shop of Myer Myers.



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