Stories in Sterling: Four Centuries of Silver in New York


Stories in Sterling: Four Centuries of Silver in New York, highlights the histories of 100 notable examples of silver from the New-York Historical Society's collection. Made across the span of four centuries, the objects in the exhibition tell a diversity of stories: many speak to individual accomplishment and family pride, while a few have unsettling ties or backgrounds. The silver, ranging from simple spoons to extravagant trophies, culled from a trove of over 3,000 objects, includes powerful eyewitness artifacts linked to significant moments in the history of New York and the United States.

Stories in Sterling interprets these compelling objects within a cultural context, focusing on the men and women that made, used, and treasured these objects. The exhibition is organized thematically and addresses issues of silver patronage, usage of objects, rituals of presentation and the meanings of silver as they evolved over time. The exhibition will be enriched by a judicious selection of paintings, prints, photographs, manuscripts, furniture and other documents that illuminate the silver, help bring to life the individuals who acquired it and illustrate the physical context in which it was used.

Objects in the exhibition span the sixteenth through the twentieth  centuries, with a concentration on silver of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. While the majority of objects were made in New York, some were crafted as far afield as England, the Netherlands, France, as well as China, Jamaica, and Argentina. All of the silver is firmly connected through its ownership to New York, highlighting the cosmopolitan nature of the city as early as the seventeenth century. For instance, the examples of Dutch silver brought to New York by early settlers, as well as the many imports from England, help chart cultural shifts, taste, and stylistic influence in colonial America and the early years of the nation.   

A fully illustrated, landmark publication published by D. Giles, Ltd of London in October 2011 is available.

The Stories in Sterling exhibition and catalog are made possible with generous support from the Tiffany & Co. Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Paul Guarner, the Walter and Lucille Rubin Foundation, Myron and Adeline Hofer, Dr. Paul Cushman, and Furthermore: a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund.


Tour Schedule

Venue Dates
Henry Morrison Flagler Museum, Palm Beach, Florida January 28, 2014–April 20, 2014

Creative: Tronvig Group