DescriptionSan Francisco Silver: A Magnificent 1875-Dated Sterling Silver Presentation Flatware Set By W. K. Vanderslice. A superb 84-piece set consisting of twelve each: 8" table forks, 7" dessert forks, teaspoons, coffee spoons, dessert spoons, and large tablespoons, plus one mustard ladle, two salt spoons, two butter knives, one pickle fork, one jelly slice (engraved blade), one pastry server (engraved blade), one berry scoop (gilt and engraved blade), one sugar spoon, one gravy ladle, and one soup ladle. Noticing the conspicuous absence of knives, one might think that the set is incomplete. However, there is no empty space in the original box for missing knives, and the consignor's research indicates that the company did not make any knives in this pattern. The design is quite unusual, with each handle featuring the head of a dog or wolf in a quite distinctive style. The set is housed in a very elegant wood canteen with burled panels, and is in beautiful condition, really showing no signs of ever having been used. Total gross weight of the 84 silver pieces is 123.840 ounces.
In the center of the lid is a 4" silver presentation plaque, engraved: "Presented to Brigadier General John Hewston, Jr., by the Com'd Officers of the No C Second Brigade, San Francisco, Feb'y 2nd, 1875". John Hewston was a prominent officer in the California National Guard. He played a major role in the resolution of a serious labor dispute in Amador County in 1871. A miner's union headquartered at Sutter Creek demanded concessions on wages and working conditions from mine operators. The owners refused, leading to a strike. The mine operators alleged that the union miners were intimidating the mining engineers, causing them to stop work, and causing mines to fill dangerously with water.
The mine owners asked Governor Henry H. Haight for assistance because local peacekeepers were unable to cope with the situation. In response the Governor instructed General Hewston to take two companies of the state's National Guard and proceed to Amador County to restore law and order. One of these companies was Company C, which would later present the set of flatware to the general. Before the troops arrived, Governor Haight made a personal visit to the area in a last ditch attempt to settle things without resorting to arms. However, the miners were in no mood to compromise.
But the arrival of the troops clearly had an intimidating effect. The strikers came to the negotiating table, and within two days an accommodation was reached. The state of California billed the mine owners approximately $36,000 to cover the cost of the expedition.
This lovely flatware set is thus tied to an interesting episode in California history, as well as being a dazzling representation of San Francisco's fast- developing ability to produce luxury goods of a quality to rival those of New York City, remarkable for a burgeoning metropolis barely 25 years old.
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