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Samuel, Hyman
Place Made:
or Charleston, SOUTH CAROLINA Norfolk VIRGINIA
Date Made:
LOA: 5-3/4″
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Set of five silver teaspoons with pointed bowls, down-turned handles, and off center mid rib.

INSCRIPTION: Inscribed “A.M.” on face of handle end.

MARK: Struck on reverse of handle with an incuse “SAMUEL” mark in a rectangular reserve.

MAKER: Hyman Samuel was a German Jew who trained as a watchmaker in the Hamburg area and married Rebecca Alexander, whose family also lived in Hamburg. Samuel and his family moved to London, England in the 1780s where he worked for several years before emigrating to Virginia, settling in Peterburg sometime prior to his advertisement as a watch and clockmaker in the “Virginia Gazette and Peterburg Intelligencer” on 10 February 1790. Letters written by his wife Rebecca Samuel, in Yiddish, in the 1790s (exact date unknown) were sent from Petersburg to Hamburg. The letters are held at the American Jewish Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. In those letters she noted that her husband had trained in Germany and England where watchmakers did not perform silversmithing, and silversmiths did not cross over into watchmaking, however, he quickly learned that in America it was expected that a mechanic would provide all of these branches of the trade whenever possible. She also wrote as early as January 1791 that they planned on relocating in Charleston, South Carolina, which was home to a large Jewish community. Instead, the family stayed on several more years in Petersburg and when they left it was not to go to South Carolina but to Richmond (1794-1796), Baltimore (1797-1799), and Norfolk (1803) before they finally arriving in Charleston by 1806. The Charleston, South Carolina directories listed him as a watchmaker from 1806 to 1809, but he also advertised “Jewellery excuted” at his shop at 142 Broad Street. Hyman Samuel has not been found in the historical record after 1809. See Catherine B. Hollan, “Virginia Silversmiths, Jewelers, Watch- and Clockmakers, 1607-1860: Their Lives and Marks” (McLean, VA: Hollan Press, 2010).

FORM: By the nineteenth century, spoons were crafted for such specific purposes as serving salt and sugar (salt spoons), food items (serving spoons), punch and soup (ladles), and for stirring tea or coffee and/or eating custard or ice cream (teaspoons).

Credit Line:
Willcox Purchase Fund