Stories in Sterling

GBP £45.00



ISBN: 978-1-904832-65-2

352 Pages

279 x 216 mm (8 ½ x 11 in)

175 colour and 175 b&w illustrations

In association with the New-York Historical Society

May 2012


The first comprehensive survey of the New-York Historical Society’s renowned collection of silver, one of the finest in the United States.

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Stories in Sterling is a major reference volume which features 148 detailed entries on acknowledged masterpieces of American silver as well as previously unpublished treasures. All of the objects were made or owned in New York, although some of them originated as far afield as Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, and Canton. Together they bear powerful witness to significant moments in American and New York City history.

Entries are organised into seven thematic chapters that consider silver from a range of perspectives: its reflection of the multi-ethnic character of colonial New York; the impact of industrialisation on its manufacturing and consumption; its role in honouring public achievement or marking rites of passage; and, finally, silver’s ability to express its owners’ social selves through ritual. An appendix provides a complete checklist of silver and related objects at the New-York Historical Society.

Fresh information, lively interpretation, and superb illustrations make Stories in Sterling a major contribution to the study of American silver, an important record of social, economic and political history from the 16th to the 20th century, and an essential volume for scholars, collectors, and enthusiasts of American silver and material culture.

About the Authors

Margaret K. Hofer is vice president and museum director at the New- York Historical Society, where she has organised numerous exhibitions, including the groundbreaking 2007 exhibition A New Light on Tiffany: Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls which she co-authored, and Making It Modern: The Folk Art Collection of Elie and Viola Nadelman (2015, with Roberta J.M. Olson).

Debra Schmidt Bach is associate curator of Decorative Arts at the New-York Historical Society and the former Tiffany & Co. Foundation Research Fellow in American Silver.

Kenneth L. Ames is professor of American Decorative Arts and Material Culture of the 18th and 19th Centuries at the Bard Graduate Center, New York.  David L. Barquist is The H. Richard Dietrich, Jr., Curator of American Decorative Arts at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and a scholar on colonial New York silver.

Table of Contents

  1. Foreword by Louise Mirrer
  2. Preface by Linda S. Ferber
  3. Acknowledgments by Margaret K. Hofer
  4. Sterling Legacies: The Formation of the New-York Historical Society Silver Collection by Margaret K. Hofer
  5. Writing on American Silver by Kenneth L. Ames
  6. The Stylistic Distinctiveness of Colonial New York Silver by David L. Barquist
  7. Catalogue: Notes to the Catalogue
    1 Converging Cultures in Colonial New York
    2 From Craft to Industry
    3 Honoring Achievement
    4 Rites of Passage
    5 Vessels of Conviviality
    6 The Rituals of Tea and Coffee
    7 Elegant Dining
  8. Appendix: Checklist of Silver and Related Objects at the New-York Historical Society
  9. Frequently Cited Sources
  10. Index