Please note that most of our gallery space will be CLOSED starting January 6, 2014 for major renovations.
From 1802 to 1821, the state of Virginia did not rely on the federal government to arm its militia but manufactured its own weapons. This exhibition presents a comprehensive collection of the products of the Virginia Manufactory of Arms, a state-of-the-art, water-powered facility located in Richmond in the early nineteenth century.Colonial Virginians acquired much of their important silver from London. After the Revolution, population growth, a rising tide of prosperity, and the genteel aspirations of an expanding middle class greatly expanded the market for silver. By 1820, there may have been hundreds of silversmiths in Virginia, some working nearly alone, others as part of large establishments employing many journeymen and apprentices. After 1820, silversmiths dealt in finished goods manufactured in large eastern cities, and after 1850, many silversmith shops came to be called jewelry stores.
This exhibition, organized by location, includes not only silver produced in major urban centers, such as Alexandria, Norfolk, and Richmond, but also works crafted in small towns like Dumfries, Fincastle, and Waynesboro. Also included are some images of Virginia silversmiths themselves and place settings using silver, ceramics, and linens from the society's collections.