June 03, 2020 3 min read
We are privileged to be able to offer [in 2005] a selection of exciting San Francisco made and retailed flatware owned by one of San Francisco’s leading 19th-century families who married into the English nobility.
Louise Tevis Breckenridge Sharon was the daughter of Lloyd Tevis, president of Wells Fargo and one of the richest men in California. When he became president of Wells Fargo, it was an express (coach) company; when he retired it was a bank as we know it today. Tevis was assessed by the state of California as having a fortune worth $1,590,000.00 in 1880. (1)
Louise married John Witherspoon Breckenridge, son of Congressman, Senator, Vice President, Presidential Candidate, and Confederate General John C. Breckenridge, c. 1878 and lived in San Rafael, CA. Their marriage ended in divorce and she married secondly Frederick W. Sharon.
Frederick Sharon was the son of Senator William Sharon (above), one of California’s very richest men. Sharon arrived in San Francisco in 1849, first investing in real estate, then also in mining and banking. By 1880, the state of California assessed his personal fortune at $4,470,000.00 (2) and he was the largest single taxpayer in the state. Louise and Frederick were married at Sharon’s 55,360 square foot palatial estate ‘Belmont’ in 1884 (below).
'Belmont' Senator William Sharon's country estate.
In preference to William Sharon’s ‘Belmont’, Louise and Frederick Sharon lived in Paris, in New York at their mansion at 323 5th Avenue and at their Menlo Park mansion ‘Sharon Heights’ (below) after its completion in 1906.
In 1909 Florence Louise Breckenridge, Louise’s daughter by her first marriage to John W. Breckenridge, married Sir Thomas Fermor-Hesketh, 8th Baronet (elevated to the rank of Baron in 1935). Their wedding presents included a large selection of silver from San Francisco’s famous Shreve & Co.
Florence, then Lady Hesketh, lived in the Hesketh country seat, Easton Neston, one of England’s great country houses. The silver descended in the family until 2005.
It is interesting to note that after the death of William Sharon in 1885, such was his wealth that many people claimed to be related (one even claimed to be a wife) to get a share of the fortune. One person made a claim 30 years later, saying that records of his birth had been destroyed in the great San Francisco fire of 1906. None of these claims ever succeeded.
Most of these pieces appear to date to the time of her first marriage to John W. Breckenridge. Others, as noted below, are later. Some of these items, including the Shreve & Co. Multi-colored Silver Gilt Salad Servers, the Vanderslice ‘Gargoyle’ pattern flatware service, the Gorham ‘Medallion’ tea knives, and the Gorham ‘Old Medici’ salad forks are very rare.
From the Tevis/ Breckenridge period, late 1870’s. (Probably wedding silver, but we have no documentation of this.):
From the Tevis/ Breckenridge/ Sharon period, after Louise’s marriage to Frederick Sharon, mid-1880s:
Other information here comes from the web site: The Sharon Families in California. (Last accessed 5/27/2020.)
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