Art: Knickerbocker Silversmiths

To most matrons rummaging around in an antique shop. Early American silverware means the clean-lined creations of Paul Revere and other New England silversmiths. But the Early American sil ver wrought in old New York is equally attractive and—in ornamentation, curves and opulence—much richer.

The Museum of the City of New York, that orderly attic of Manhattan, is currently showing the work of 13 silversmiths of the colonial period. New York was full of wealthy merchants; as a contemporary historian pointed out in 1692: "This town is much richer than Boston. Its municipal currency consists of Spanish coin." But coin is...

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