South Carolina silver lovers John and Vickie LeHeup. The former defensive tackle attacks Southern silver with the same passion he once displayed on the football field. "Discovering new information through research is almost as good as owning a piece," says John, a past president of the South Carolina Silver Society who lectures on Southern silversmiths.
Spoons, from left: The Spear spoon, mulberry pattern by William Ewan, and shell patterns and monograms by Louis Boudo. At top are sugar tongs by Charleston silversmith Charles Harris (d.1798). Portions of silver fish slices are shown on either side of the photo.
Ace silversmith Alexander Petrie (d.1768) is recognized as one of the most talented 18th-century smiths working in Charleston. By tapping out showy silver like the rococo repoussé coffeepot shown here, he became a silver star and tastemaker-and also sidelined as a real estate developer, importer, and bookie.
"Petrie served as an arbiter of taste and helped shape consumer demand through the objects he imported and created," says curator Brandy Culp of the Historic Charleston Foundation. What remains a mystery about Petrie’s pieces is how much of a hand an artisan named Abraham, a slave who worked for the master craftsman, had in their design and execution.
Image courtesy of the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts