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    Coin Silver Presentation Set Given to Henry W. Bellows, President of the United States Sanitary Commission, by the Citizens of San Francisco, California. The magnificent set of twelve large goblets, a centerpiece, a pitcher, two wine ewers, and a massive tray, was made by William Keyser Vanderslice of San Francisco, one of California's finest silversmiths, for the George C. Shreve jewelry company. The center of the tray has the inscription "To / Henry Whitney Bellows / President of the U. S. Sanitary Commission / from / Friends in San Francisco / A Tribute of Honor and Gratitude / for his Service / to the sick and wounded soldiers of the National Army / June 1863" surrounded by an elaborate foliate design with engraved depictions of Mount Shasta, Yosemite Falls, a view of Fort Point and the Golden Gate, and a stand of giant Sequoias. The other pieces are monogrammed with the letter "B" and have engine turned and chased decoration.

    This set was presented to the president of the Sanitary Commission, Henry W. Bellows. A prominent Unitarian minister, Bellows was appalled by the terrible toll disease and inadequate medical care took on the men who fought for the Union. In 1861 Bellows helped Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell to establish the Women's Central Organization of Relief. The government and the military largely ignored the organization's offer of help. Bellows led a committee to lobby President Abraham Lincoln to accept the desperately needed aid. Reluctantly the government chartered the United States Sanitary Commission to organize the collection of donated medical supplies and to advise on public health and medical measures. Bellows was made president of the new organization. Through the efforts of Bellows and others, the Sanitary Commission coordinated the efforts of tens of thousands of volunteers spread over the entire nation. The Sanitary Commission's policy of treating captured, wounded Confederate troops as well as wounded Federal troops inspired the Geneva Convention on War. When the American Red Cross was formed, its organization was modeled on the Sanitary Commission.

    There was a strong connection between San Francisco and the United States Sanitary Commission, thanks in large measure to Thomas Starr King, another Unitarian minister who, in 1860, left his native New England to accept a pastorate in San Francisco. At the outbreak of the Civil War, King spoke fervently in defense of the Union. President Lincoln credited King with keeping California in the Union. King believed that despite the great distances between the East and West, Californians needed to support Union troops. He formed the Pacific Branch of the United States Sanitary Commission to raise funds for the care of wounded Union soldiers. Largely as a result of King's fiery oratory Californians contributed over $1.5 million dollars to the Sanitary Commission's New York headquarters, a sum that amounted to twenty percent of all the funds the commission collected in its five-year existence. King's exhausting speaking schedule contributed to his death in March of 1864 of diphtheria.

    This breathtaking set was made by William Keyser Vanderslice, a Quaker silversmith who moved to California from Philadelphia in 1858. The talented Vanderslice catered to a clientele made prosperous by gold and silver mining. Before he opened his own jewelry shop, Vanderslice sold his wares through George C. Shreve & Company, (later Shreve & Co.). Each of the goblets is simply marked "Sterling". All other matching pieces are marked, "George C. Shreve & Co. / S.F. Cal." and "Pure Coin" with the Vanderslice hallmark. The mammoth tray measures 28" x 21.25". The silver set is sold with its fitted oak chest. From the collection of the American Red Cross.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    December, 2009
    12th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 6,487

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