Harford History

Thomas Warner: silversmith, assayer

February 04, 2007

In the early 1770s many members of the Pennsylvania Quaker community moved to the Darlington area of Harford County. Among them was the Warner family, which gained prominence as clock makers, silversmiths and millers.

Thomas Warner helped establish a silversmith business in Darlington and moved with the family to Baltimore at age 19. With his brother Andrew, Thomas created a legacy of silver craftsmanship whose value was later recognized by the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Maryland Historical Society and the Arts Institute of Chicago. They fabricated tea sets, boxes and urns, platters, flatware and candlesticks.

After military service during the War of 1812, Thomas became the assayer in Baltimore, overseeing the quality of silver being produced. He designed a mark to indicate that a piece was made of 91.7 percent pure silver alloy.

The Baltimore Patriot and Evening Advertiser printed an article on Feb. 3, 1816, in which Thomas advised potential silver buyers to "examine carefully all silver work which they may be about to purchase; and see that it bears the Assayer's mark. They are not aware how shamefully they may be imposed on by dishonest men."

[Source: Harford Historical Bulletin, Fall 1999. Research by Harford County Public Library.]

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