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Wednesday, July 31 2013

Learn About Silversmithing at Historic Deerfield

Adapted from a Historic Deerfield press release:

Silversmith Steve Smithers will be demonstrating and discussing the making of a (commissioned) set of sterling silver flatware for an early American 18th century home as part of Historic Deerfield's "Silvermithing Series," on August 10, October 6, October 26, and December 14, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m,. in the Parker and Russell Silversmith Shop on Old Main Street. Every aspect of the project will be covered, from the initial research and design phase, through all the steps in the making of a finished table setting for twelve. All pieces will be forged and hammered from silver stock, using tools and techniques similar to those employed in the making of a period set of flatware. Each place setting will include a dinner fork, spoon, and knife.

The trifid pattern design of the set is inspired by several rare surviving English and American examples from the late 17th and early 18th century. Though spoons were quite common in this period, the fork and silver-handled table knife were rarely seen, and not widely used in America until the middle of the 18th century.

The spoon features a classic tablespoon sized bowl with a rattail on the underside of the bowl from the stem to the middle of the bowl. The knife has a silver handle, with a scimitar shaped Sheffield steel blade made in Sheffield, England. The fork has three tynes, as was typical of the earliest examples of the form.

The demonstration will take place at the Parker and Russell Silversmith Shop on the Street at Historic Deerfield. This authentic recreation of a colonial silversmith shop includes a brick forge, a drawbench for making silver wires and moldings, and a workbench complete with built in leather apron for catching silver filings and scraps. The shop contains a full array of hammers, anvils, stakes, punches and other tools and equipment used in a typical shop of the period.

Since 1975, Silversmith Stephen Smithers has been researching and refining the classic art of silversmithing as practiced by master silversmiths throughout history. Originally a machinist and plater, Steve eventually had the opportunity to work on pieces made prior to the industrial revolution. Through the process of performing restorations on early metal objects, Steve has gained an intuitive sense of the original working methods used, which has influenced the design, construction, and craftsmanship of his own pieces. He acquired an understanding of the craft as it was practiced by hand, and today maintains that pride of workmanship as well as the care taken in the making of quality hand-wrought metal pieces.

Historic Deerfield, Inc., is dedicated to the heritage and preservation of Deerfield, Massachusetts, and the Connecticut River Valley.  Its museums and programs provide today's audiences with experiences that create an understanding and appreciation of New England's historic villages and countryside.

Historic Deerfield is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.   Admission prices:  $14 for adults (18+), $5 for children (6-17), and free for children under 6, Deerfield residents, and members.  For more information visit or call 413-775-7214.

About Historic Deerfield

Historic Deerfield ( is a nationally recognized museum offering tours of period houses and the Flynt Center of Early New England Life. Now featuring exhibitions:

    *Tea Talk: Ritual and Refinement in Early New England Parlors on view March 2, 2013 - February 16, 2014.
    *Into the Woods: Crafting Early American Furniture, a long-term furniture exhibition.
    *Engraved Powder Horns from the French and Indian War and the American Revolution: The William H. Guthman Collection, permanent.
    *Celebrating the Fiber Arts: The Helen Geier Flynt Textile Gallery, a permanent exhibition with changing elements.

Historic Deerfield also offers relaxed fine dining at Champney's Restaurant and Tavern at the Deerfield Inn, lodging in the Deerfield Inn (, and shopping at the Museum Gift Shop and Bookstore ( Please call (413) 775-7214 for museum information and program schedule.

Museums10 is a dynamic collaboration that heightens awareness of the distinctive offerings of the individual institutions while highlighting the cultural diversity and outstanding educational resource that they collectively represent. Museums10 is facilitated by Five Colleges, Inc., which provides major administrative support for the partnership.  Museums10 includes: the Beneski Museum of Natural History, Amherst College; Emily Dickinson Museum: The Homestead and The Evergreens; The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art; Hampshire College Art Gallery; Historic Deerfield; Mead Art Museum at Amherst College; Mount Holyoke College Art Museum; Yiddish Book Center; Smith College Museum of Art; and the University Museum of Contemporary Art, UMass Amherst.  For more information, visit

A portion of Historic Deerfield's operating funds is provided through a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Historic Deerfield
80 Old Main Street, P.O. Box 321
Deerfield, Massachusetts 01342
T: 413-775-7127
F: 413-775-7220