Delawareans have long admired and enjoyed silver for its beauty, utility, and value.  Many pieces made by Delaware silversmiths or owned by Delawareans have come into the collections of the Delaware Historical Society, and it is a pleasure to present some of them in this exhibition, Sterling Selections: Silver from the Collection of the Delaware Historical Society.  

Drinker Family of Philadelphia, made by Wilmington silversmith Bancroft Woodcock The earliest American silversmiths were mostly English and European-trained. As the colonies became more established, America began to develop its own distinct native regional silver styles in large cities such as Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. As centers of culture and fashion, these cities set the standards for craftsmanship in surrounding regions.

Given to Daniel Moore Bates, Jr. of Centreville, DE in 1920 when he worked at the Lewiston Bleachery and Dye Works of Lewiston, MEDelaware, and especially Wilmington, was a healthy center of the silversmith craft during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Kinship, religious, and business networks, evident throughout this exhibition, connected Delaware silversmiths with each other. Since Wilmington communicated both socially and culturally with neighboring Philadelphia, many Delaware smiths often worked in both cities during their careers, further enriching the web of connections.  

The silversmiths of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries were hand craftsmen who served long apprenticeships. By the second quarter of the nineteenth century, as manufactured items began to overtake hand-crafted ones, the specialized craftsman transitioned into a jeweler, repairman, and dealer in manufactured items. Despite all the changes in the craft, silver has never lost its appeal and remains popular, even today, for special commemorative items.

Sterling Selections includes a wide variety of silver objects ranging from eighteenth-century masterpieces to horse racing trophies, snuff boxes, and souvenir spoons,

One highlight is the tea and coffee service presented to prominent Delaware abolitionist Thomas Garrett (1789-1871) at a celebration held at Ezion Methodist Episcopal Church, which is inscribed:

“To Thomas Garrett through evil report and good report, the faithful friend and wise councilor, the fearless champion and generous benefactor of the wronged and the oppressed. From the colored people of Wilmington, January 1866.”

Schedule a tour today for this rare glimpse into the Delaware Historical Society's Silver Selections.

Wilmington souvenir spoon, 1880-1910



This exhibition was open from November 5, 2015 - December 18, 2015

Delaware History Museum
504 N. Market Street, Wilmington, Delaware 19801

This exhibition opens November 5 and runs through December 18, 2015 in the Delaware History Museum on these specific dates:

The exhibition will be open to the public for tours at 11:00 a.m, 12:00, and 1:00 p.m. on the following dates:

November 5 - 6
November 12 - 13             
November 19 - 20             

December 3 - 4   
December 10 - 11      
December 17 - 18    

Guided tours of the Century Farms exhibit and other selected spaces in Old Town Hall and the Delaware History Museum will be given every hour on the hour from 11 a.m. till 1 p.m.  Entrance to the exhibit and the guided tour is by suggested donation.

Closed major holidays - click here for the Society's calendar.

Fee: Admission by suggested donation
Tours: (302) 655-7161

Delaware History Museum   |  Mitchell Center for African American Heritage   |   Old Town Hall   |   Research Library   |   Willingtown Square    |   Read House & Gardens  

(302) 655-7161
505 N. Market Street, Wilmington, DE 19801
copyright 2019

The Delaware Historical Society is the statewide, non-profit organization that explores, preserves, shares, and promotes Delaware history, heritage, and culture to strengthen our community.