Chapter Two
The Seventeenth Century

AMONG THE PASSENGERS OF THE "PHOENIX," SAILING TO VIRGINIA in 1608, were listed two goldsmiths, two refiners and a jeweller. That these men were not intended to practise their craft is confirmed by the statement of Captain John Smith that "the lust of gold was apparent in sending out refiners and goldsmiths, who never had occasion to exercise their craft; as also the jeweller for there were no precious stones nor jewels, save only such few pearls as might be found in the oysters, of which there are plenty." The gold for which these men were searching could not be found "for the best of reasons that there was none to find." The subsequent discovery and cultivation of tobacco and the springing-up of widely scattered plantations, whose owners had close contact with England, was not encouraging to the growth of the silversmith's trade; and it is likely that little plate, with the possible exception of a few spoons, was made in Virginia during the seventeenth century. What plate has survived the whims of fashion in the churches and plantation families of tidewater Virginia is of London make.

The chief centers of silversmithing activity in the period of settlement were the port towns of Boston and New York. Inasmuch as silver is such a personal thing and its production part and parcel of the life of the people, reflecting as it does the racial background, social, economic

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