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Books To Read On Silver

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Books about old silver have been written in this country since the 1880s. True, more were written about English than American silver, but those early books which may be seen today in libraries were the pioneer texts.

Unfortunately few were interested in American silver thirty years ago, so many good books were published only in limited editions and some were privately printed. Such books soon went into private, public, or museum libraries and to collectors. When the layman wanted a book about silver he either had to go to a library for it or to a shop carrying out-of-print books, and often he had to pay many times the original cost for the book he desired. During the last few years some of these older books on silver have brought fabulous prices at auction sales.

Today publishers realize the wide interest in American silver. They are bringing out books on the subject at reasonable prices and in large enough editions so they will not soon be out of print. A few of the better older books have been reprinted and these sell at a reasonable price. Stephen G. C. Ensko's American Silversmiths and Their Marks, III, published in 1948, is the newest and most comprehensive book of American makers. (Mr. Ensko's other two books are long out of print.) This book includes not only all the known marks but has biographical items on the various makers, also maps of Boston, Philadelphia, and New York, showing the places where the early craftsmen in silver worked.

The Book of Old Silver by Seymour Wyler is a popular book at a moderate cost and still in print. It is not only about American silver but has marks of English and foreign silversmiths and information about them.

Early American Silver Marks by James Graham, Jr. was privately printed in 1936 and may be found in most libraries.

Most of the larger libraries have not only books on American silver but also on file many articles in magazines and newspapers. These are valuable because they include research material not yet published in book form. Helen Burr Smith, Mrs. John Russel Hastings, and Dr. Phillips have done invaluable research in the last few years from original records. There are also monographs on such silversmiths as Coney, Winslow, and Dummer, and much has been written on Paul Revere as a silversmith. Catalogues of silver exhibitions are also filed in libraries and these have valuable information and also photographs.

Let your librarian help to find books on early American silver. Go to the museums and to auction sales and use the books of reference to interpret what you see. You have a whole new world before you.