Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

“The most elegant and general assortment of plate:” The market for imported and locally-made sterling silver, consumer activism, and national identity in Charleston, 1760–1790
by Brazier, Halie Nowell, M.A., University of South Carolina, 2009, 95; 1467378
Abstract (Summary)

This study analyzes the market for both imported and locally-made sterling silver plate in Revolution-era Charleston to determine if it was affected by economic and cultural factors created by pre-war boycotts, the war itself, and calls to practice "republican virtue." Ultimately, imported silver became negatively associated with other British goods, and both were boycotted with relative success. Nevertheless, silver remained an important fixture in genteel Charleston, as "republican virtue" was probably not internalized enough to keep non-importation at the forefront of white Charlestonians' minds. At this time, there was a return to consumption of British silver and Charleston silversmiths carefully mimicked British styles and advertised their imports. Sources like newspaper advertisements and the silver objects suggest that, unlike homespun movements with textiles, a distinctly American identity and culture did not influence the Charleston silver market. In fact, sources tell us different stories as to whether or not there was growth for local silversmiths at all, or if imported silver remained dominant. The lack of certain sources and inconclusive results yielded by others leads to ambiguities in some assumptions. These problems may reflect discrepancies found in genteel and republican lifestyles created because of their inherent opposition to each other.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kross, Jessica
Commitee: Marsh, Allison
School: University of South Carolina
Department: Public History
School Location: United States -- South Carolina
Source: MAI 47/06M, Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: American history, Design, Economic history
Keywords: American Revolution, Charleston, Consumerism, Gentility, Non-importation movements, Silver and silversmiths, South Carolina
Publication Number: 1467378
ISBN: 978-1-109-27989-4
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