Paul Revere’s (1734-1818) work as a silversmith is celebrated, yet he was not the only accomplished craftsman in 18th-century America. A silver ladle made by New York silversmith Myer Myers (1723-1795), now in the National Heritage Museum collection, demonstrates equal skill.
The ladle, engraved with initials “TBS” on the handle, dates to the 1765-1790 period. Ladles like this were used to serve both hot and cold liquids; while this piece was probably owned and used in a private household, it is possible that Myers made similar pieces for Masonic lodges where members shared punch.
Jewish silversmith Myer Myers served his apprenticeship in New York City and opened his own shop around 1750. The city experienced prosperity during the pre-Revolutionary decades and had no shortage of well-to-do patrons who could afford fine silver. Myers was extremely productive and found unique ways to build his business. He was the first New York silversmith to use a surname mark, which provided name recognition when his silver was used by its purchasers. He was also the first New York silversmith to form a partnership with another silversmith, an innovative business strategy at the time. During the Revolution, Myers actively supported the American patriots, but did not fight in the War himself. He moved his family to Norwalk, Connecticut to keep them out of harm’s way and continued his silversmithing business there to support himself, his wife and his thirteen children.
Myers became a Mason in New York in the 1760s, and was a member of King David’s Lodge. Through his sister’s marriage, Myers was brother-in-law to Moses Michael Hays, who served as Grand Master of the Massachusetts (Independent) Grand Lodge from 1788 to 1792.
David L. Barquist, Myer Myers: Jewish Silversmith in Colonial New York. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001.
Ladle, 1765-1790, Myer Myers (1723-1795), New York City, National Heritage Museum, gift of Ira and Samuel Seskin in memory of Joel A. and Celia S. Seskin, 2006.014. Photograph by David Bohl.