Monday, May 9, 2016

A Flea Market Family Find: Silver Spoons

The weather here has not been flea market friendly- colder than usual temperatures accompanied by days and days of rain. During one recent weekend where there was enough of a break in the weather pattern to get some flea market shopping in we had a pretty nice find: a full set of six monogrammed sterling silver 1847 Rogers Bros. spoons and their matching monogrammed ladle.  The 1847 Rogers Bros. mark doesn’t necessarily mean they are from 1847 exactly, but the mark is not followed by “IS” meaning “International Silver” so they are more than likely real silver and not silver plated and were made prior to 1898 when Rogers Bros. started to manufacture silver plated flatware.  Side note: does anyone remember the Ricky Schroder show from the 80’s “Silver Spoons?” I was singing the show’s theme song all day after we purchased these spoons. But I digress.

I first stumbled on the ladle when I noticed the monogrammed “W” since that’s the initial of our last name (and also of my maiden name!).  I love anything monogrammed so it immediately caught my eye.  When we asked the seller about the price he gave us a little history of the silverware and helped us find all of the remaining pieces he had left to sell. As it turned out he had purchased them from an estate sale from a family in southern Virginia with the last name of Winston.  If that name doesn’t ring a bell to you, well… on!
The Winston family of Virginia is almost as old the Virginia colony itself. A little research in the 1977 book Old New Kent County: Some Account of the Planters, Plantations, and Places in New Kent County by Malcolm H. Harris told us the family’s patriarch William Winston had settled in St. Peter’s Parish, Virginia, possibly as early as 1687 and became owner to large tracts of land all over the region in the early 1700s.  He had four sons: Isaac, Essex, John, and James whose descendants are spread all over the southern Virginia counties of Hanover and Louisa. Perhaps it was one of these descendants who were able to part with the family’s silverware in the estate sale our friendly gentleman seller had attended.
Of course we can’t be sure that these silver spoons were indeed owned by any of that Winston family, but it’s a neat story nonetheless.  The best part is that through a simple flea market purchase on a lovely spring day the Winston family lived on and we were- for a moment- connected to them and to the past. 

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