Chapter one
The Silversmith

So long as brass, so long as books endure,
So long as neat wrought pieces thou'rt secure.

Thomas Flatman ( 1674).

BY THE MIDDLE OF THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY, DETERMINED AND venturesome peoples, mainly of English and Dutch descent, had established permanent homes in the seaport villages which had sprung up along the Atlantic seaboard. The natural resources together with the geographic location of these villages and the heritage of their inhabitants largely determined their economic life. As the people of both nations had been bred in a seafaring tradition, it was natural that they should turn their attention to the pursuit of trade and commerce. The trade pattern established by Boston, the largest and most important colonial port during the seventeenth century, also characterized other ports. As early as 1670 merchant ships were to be found trading with the West Indies, the Portuguese islands, English and English-known continental ports as well as with the neighboring coastal towns. The result of this active commercial expansion was an influx of English, Dutch, French, Mexican, Portuguese and Spanish coin, which in a day of no banks created a security problem. Theft of money and plate, as silverware was then commonly known, is one of the crimes most frequently recorded

-11-

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