Charles Alexander Burnett Antique Coin Silver Dinner Forks, Georgetown, DC, c. 1820 - set of 12
This is a very rare set of early American silver dinner forks by a rare maker. The shaped handles have a beveled edge and a nice shell at the top. An engraved crest of a lions head is on the front and on the back is a 'JNS' monogram in a foliate script style.
Charles Alexander Burnett was the leading silversmith in Washington, DC, during the federal era and his silver is highly prized by collectors today. He sold to presidents and other high ranking officials of the young republic. His work was commissioned for official use as Indian Trade Silver by the Office of Indian Trade. Some of these orders were quite large, in 1808 he made 2000 small brooches for that office. He made the skippet used by the United States Department of State to convey the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812. (Skippets are round boxes that cover and protect the official wax seal of a nation attached to a treaty.)
Starting with a shop in Alexandria, Virginia, Burnett moved to Georgetown (in DC) by 1800 where he employed apprentices and made and retailed silver, watches and jewelry (Hollan, In The Neatest Most Fashionable Manner: Three Centuries of Alexandria Silver, p. 34). There is speculation about how much Burnett silver was Washington made and how much was made by others and sold by him. He had wholesale relationships with Samuel Williamson, Joseph Lownes and William Seal of Philadelphia and Epapras Hinsdale in Newark, NJ.
Museums have long collected Burnett's work and it can be found in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution (both the National Museum of the American Indian and the National Museum of American History), The Department of State, Yale University, Winterthur (See Ian Quimby, American Silver at Winterthur, p. 465.), etc.
These rare forks are marked "C.A. Burnett" in a rectangle. They measures 8 inches long, weigh a combined 29.10 troy ounces and are in very good antique condition with light wear across the tine tips.
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