SOLD - An Antique American Silver Mug of Southern Origin
Of tapering cylindrical form with molded rims and plain "S" shed candle, engraved on side: Robt Lee Withers from his God Mother.<br /><br />
The recipient was probably Robert Lee Withers (1869-1927) of San Antonio, Texas. Robert was a well-respected doctor within the community and served as county physician for Bexar county, and assistant city physician of San Antonio. He is buried in the San Fernando Cemetery. His father, John Withers (1827-1892), was a prominent San Antonian who was a West Point graduate, and served under General Robert E. Lee in both the U.S. and Confederate Armies.<br /><br />
After marrying Anita Dwyer in 1859, John returned to San Antonio as a banker, fathering four sons and two daughters. His journal, along with his wife's diary, has been published. (See History of Southwest Texas, 1907, p. 317-9).<br /><br />
The silversmith, Samuel Bell, was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1798. He was exposed at an early age to the manufacturing business, apprenticing at an arms factory in Pittsburgh during the War of 1812. Bell moved to Knoxville, Tennessee in 1819, marrying Eliza Carr the following year, with whom Bell fathered thirteen children. In Knoxville, Bell founded a silversmith and metalworking shop making jewelry, spoons, spurs, swords, cups and tablewares, etc. His storefront sold a variety of goods beyond metalwork including groceries, tools, and medical supplies. A notable commission was a pair of silver spurs worn by General Sam Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto during the Mexican-American War.<br /><br />
Bell rose to prominence in Knoxville, serving as its mayor twice (1840-1842, 1844-1846). In 1852, Bell sold his business interests to his assistant Daniel Hope and moved to San Antonio, Texas. Bell purportedly used Mexican reales to produce silver, tablewares, spurs, Bowie knives, and jewelry at his small adobe storefront on Commerce Street. Clientele listed in the company's register included Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, Ulysses S. Grant, and other prominent military figures. In about 1860, the firm was renamed Bell & Bros still retaining the name so many in Texas had associated with quality goods, while also denoting that the Bell sons now managed most of the manufacturing and retailing duties. Samuel died in 1882, and his sons David, Powhatan, and Jessup Bell continued working in silver. The three brothers sold the firm in 1895 to Benjamin Hammond, who continued to use the inclusion of its founder in title, renaming it The Bell Jewelry Company" and operated until 1961.
|Size||Height: 4 in.|
|Weight||8 oz. 10 dwt.|