settlers ventured into Kentucky in the early 1800s, silversmiths
helped civilize places like Frankfort, Covington, and Paris.
People brought in the only silver available, Spanish and English
coins, for the silversmiths to melt into useful cups and spoons
that also showed off their creativity. As the ones who weighed the
coins, silversmiths came to be considered bankers, entrusted with
the valuables of the townspeople.
"They were the most
honorable people in town," says Georgetown silver collector
Lucien Royse. "The first real artists in Kentucky were
An exhibit honoring
silversmiths from 18 Kentucky towns runs from April 29 to May 18
at the Georgetown & Scott County Museum in Georgetown.
"This pays tribute to an
important part of the culture and heritage of our state,"
says Royse, who chairs the museum’s coin silver committee.
The coin silver exhibit
features more than 400 objects, from ladles to grandfather clocks
with gears hammered out by silversmiths. "Making the works
for a clock by hand back then would be like making a computer in
1970," says Royse.
At one time more than 100
silversmiths worked in the towns represented in the show. With the
Civil War their skills turned to the war effort, and not long
after that the Industrial Revolution dried up the demand for such
Admission for the coin silver
exhibit: $6 adults; $4 seniors; $2 students; $1 a student for
school groups; $3 a person for groups of 10 or more; children
under 6 free.
Museum hours: 9-4
Monday-Friday; 10-4 Saturday; 1-4 Sunday. For information contact
the Georgetown & Scott County Museum, 229 East Main Street,
Georgetown, KY 40324, (502) 863-6201. -Paul Wesslund