Historic silver is antique show first

Displays: Famouse flatware by a local craftsman highlights this weekend's annual event.

January 16, 2004|By Joni Guhne | Joni Guhne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

In the 18th century, England protected its export market of silverware in the colonies by not exporting raw silver. So Annapolis silversmiths were forced to reuse old silver for their creations, and they became experts at producing small pieces of flatware, especially spoons.

Considering the ease with which flatware disappeared over the centuries, it is remarkable that there are 11 known pieces of silver by renowned Annapolis silversmith Charles Faris in existence.

Four Faris tablespoons and a ladle are in the Historic Annapolis Foundation's silver exhibit, Maryland's First Silver: 18th Century Annapolis Silver, at this weekend's Historic Annapolis Antiques Show.

"Now that the Faris creations are part of our collection," said foundation curator Heather Ersts, "we can make them accessible to the Annapolis community, to people living in his old hometown."

Antique lovers are expected to head to the show, which runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Medford National Guard Armory in Annapolis.

The 34th annual event, formerly known as the Annapolis Heritage Antiques Show, is sponsored by the foundation and features diverse antique collectibles.

Foundation president Greg Stiverson said seeing the antiques up close is like going to a museum, and dealers will be available to answer questions.

The show's primary attractions are its antiques and collectibles, presented by more than 30 dealers from across the nation. The dealers have brought period furniture, clocks, maps and prints, drapery hardware, paintings, linens, marine antiques and garden decorations. Other categories include jewelry, silver, oriental rugs and books, early glass, pottery, candlesticks, textiles, needlework and country painted pieces.

And, for the first time, guests are invited to tour the display of historic silverware in the foundation's exhibit.

The other silver pieces attributed to Faris are in the collections of the Maryland Historical Society, the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

The silver exhibit, made up of items from the foundation's collection and private lenders, also includes a spoon marked by Annapolis' first silversmith, Cesar Ghiselin, and pieces by Annapolis silversmiths William McParlin and James Chalmers Jr.

A 1783 threepence minted by Chalmers, found during a dig last fall at 10 Cornhill St. by Annapolis amateur archaeologist Will Mumford, is also on display for the first time.

Ersts said one of the most impressive pieces in the exhibition is a large monogrammed ladle by Annapolis silversmith Thomas Sparrow, on loan from descendents of the original owner.

There will also be a lecture luncheon at noon on "The Silver of Tiffany & Co.: 1850-1920," by Janet Zapata, author of The Jewelry and Enamels of Louis Comfort Tiffany and curator of two Tiffany exhibits at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts.

Luncheon tickets are $60 for Historic Annapolis Foundation members and volunteers and $70 for nonmembers.

Guests can pay at the door Saturday for the Annapolis Silversmiths and Silver Symposium scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mark B. Letzer, a descendent of Faris, will speak about his ancestor and the challenge of staying in business when most silverware was being imported from England.

Foundation historian Jean Russo will talk about the life of William Faris, father of Charles Faris, as revealed through the elder Faris' diary.

Numismatic specialist John Kraljevich Jr. will discuss the silver coinage of John Chalmers in 1783. Royanne C. Bailey will discuss how handmade silver changed as it moved into the industrial age.

Jane Campbell-Chambliss, director of appraisal operations and senior partner at Robert H. Campbell & Association, will give advice about buying silver.

The symposium will end with a book signing by Russo and Mark Letzer, co-authors of The Diary of William Faris: The Daily Life of an Annapolis Silversmith.

The symposium is $45 for foundation members and volunteers and $55 for nonmembers. Reservations can be made by calling the foundation at 410-267-8146.

Proceeds will help fund the education and preservation programs at the foundation.

General admission tickets for the antiques show are $8 and can be purchased in advance or at the door. The Medford Armory is on Hudson Street, near West Street and Riva Road in Annapolis.

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