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Antique Silver Spanish Colonial Charger, Historical US Provenance

 

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An especially fine Spanish Colonial - Mexican - solid silver charger of the late 18th to early 19th century. This large and early piece was owned by Buckingham Smith, 1810 - 1871, diplomat, author, explorer, and philanthropist. The charger was bequeathed to Joanna Williams in 1872 and is so engraved on its base.

This very impressive charger is modeled on classic mid-eighteenth century designs. The charger is finely wrought, and its upper surfaces are finely finished. The charger's early fabrication and Mexican origin are obvious on the its undersurfaces. Its casting irregularities and hand workmanship are clearly shown by tool marks and details of the piece's construction. The charger also bears engraved ownership markings associated with early Mexican silver objects (please see close-up picture of marks). Collectors of early Mexican / Southwest silver appreciate the importance of these features. Given the physical properties of this beautiful charger we date its creation from the second half of the 18th century into the first decades of the 19th century. Large pieces of early Mexican silver such as this are quite scarce due to the region's intermittent political instability and the varying fortunes of those afford silver of this sort in that place and period.

A very impressive and large early Mexican silver piece such as this which is also directly associated with an important period in American and Mexican history is a considerable rarity worthy of any public or private collection

CONDITION: This beautiful piece is in excellent original condition with lovely patina and no evidence of anything other than careful hand cleaning/polishing. Dimensions: width across handles 17", body diameter 14 5/8" , body height aprox 1 3/8", weight 1270 grams (40.83 troy oz.)

This charger is engraved on its base, "Joanna Williams, from, Buckingham Smith, 1872", which indicates the charger was bequeathed to MS Williams after Smith's death. A substiantial body of information on Buckingham Smith is available on Google.  He was a prominent citizen of St.Augustine, FL, an explorer, diplomat, author, surveyor, and philanthopist. Buckingham Smith's father, Josiah Smith, was appointed US Consul to Mexico sometime prior to 1824 (when Buckingham visited him in Mexico) and died there in 1825). Since Mexico won its revolution against Spain in 1821 Josiah Smith may have been one of the first American diplomats in the very turbulent new Republic of Mexico. In 1851 Buckingham Smith was secretary of the US Legation in Mexico City. Santa Anna was still president of Mexico despite being beaten by the US in the Mexican War, 1846-1848 and Smith had to deal with some pretty difficult situations. We have not been able to determine if this charger was first acquired by Josiah Smith in the 1820s and passed down to Buckingham, or if Buckingham acquied it in the 1850s.

We acquired this piece in the Boston, Mass. area in 1987. It has been with us since then. We are doing some downsizing.

Below are some extracts from the wealth of information available on Google relating to Buckingham Smith and the websites they are taken from.

As early as January 17, 1851, Letcher had reported that opposition to the treaty was "violent from almost every quarter." The clergy, the interests connected with rival routes, prominent men of state, foreign influence, all were hostile. Only the new president, Arista, manifested a friendliness toward it, and he was accused of desiring to cede a portion of the country to the United States. During the following month, Buckingham Smith, United States chargé ad interim, reported that the people of Mexico had become no more favorably inclined toward the convention, while on April 1 he said that, according to current opinion, the treaty could in no way or shape receive the ratification of the Mexican congress. There was not a member of the cabinet who favored it, and all agreed that "the experiment with Texas should be enough." If their neighbors were given "a foothold in Tehuantepec" they would seize one-half of the remaining territory of the republic.”29

In the early spring of 1851, the United States chargé, Smith, had been informed that the Mexican government would not allow foreign vessels to enter the ports of the isthmus "under any circumstances," and the Mexican vice-consul at New Orleans had been directed to deny the American company all communication with the isthmus. But the company insisted on its right to proceed with the operations. Accordingly, the steamer Gold Hunter was dispatched from San Francisco for Ventosa in the state of Oaxaca. When it arrived there, April 6, the cargo and passengers, after being detained several days, were eventually forbidden a landing. In consequence, the captain declared that he had been subjected to heavy and unnecessary expenses and demanded damages from the Mexican government.

Member Florida Territorial Legislature, 1841. Secretary United States legation, Mexico City, 1850-1852, secretary legation in Spain, 1855-1858. Delegate Democratic National Convention, Baltimore, 1864.

For more information cut and paste the links below into your browser

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Journals/MVHR/6/4/Tehuantepec_Diplomacy*.html

http://www.drbronsontours.com/bronsonbuckinghamsmith.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buckingham_Smith

 

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