S. Kirk & Son - Admiral Schley's Service Plates, Balt., MD, c. 1902, of Naval Historical Interest, priced each
Samuel Kirk & Son Co. - Admiral Winfield Scott Schley's Antique Silver Service Plates - Baltimore, MD, c. 1898, of Naval Historical and Spanish American War Interest, priced individually.
These exceptional plates are exceedingly rare and come with an interesting history, and we are selling them individually. Of service size, they have a plain surface with a curved, raised edge bordered with a striking applied wreath of laurel. A laurel wreath is used to signify 'victory' and is very apropos for this set of plates. Each plate is engraved with a beautiful script monogram 'WSS' for Winfield Scott Schley. On the back, they are inscribed -
'MADE OF SPANISH SILVER TAKEN FROM THE CRISTOBAL COLON SUNK IN THE BATTLE OF SANTIAGO DE CUBA JULY 3rd 1898'.
These plates were part of a presentation from the citizens of Maryland to Schley celebrating his victory. According to press reports at the time, this "magnificent service made of captured Spanish coin" was a popular tribute to the admiral. The service consisted of a "large centerpiece," about thirty smaller articles and plates. (1)
Image from the Baltimore Sun, May 3, 1902, courtesy of the Maryland State Archives
The Cristobal Colon (Christopher Columbus) was a Spanish Armored Cruiser, the newest addition to the Spanish fleet at the time of the Spanish American War. She was so new that at the time she was sent to defend Cuba she had been only partly outfitted, and her 10-inch guns had not been mounted before she left.
Along with several other Spanish warships, she was lost at the Battle of Santiago on July 3rd, 1898 when the United States Navy won a decisive victory. After she had been chased down and outmaneuvered by the American fleet, the Cristobal Colon was scuttled near the Cuban shore. When the Americans tried to retrieve her remains, she sank and is still a diving attraction off the Cuban coast today.
Winfield Scott Schley started his naval career in 1860 as a midshipman on the frigate USS Niagara. As a Commodore during the Battle of Santiago, he was in charge of the Flying Squadron commanding from his flagship the USS Brooklyn. His squadron, and specifically his flagship, won the day at the Battle of Santiago, resulting in the capture of the Cristobal Colon and others. He was elevated to the rank of Rear Admiral and is generally considered the hero of the Battle of Santiago (see Wikipedia: Winfield Scott Schley).
Underneath the inscription of the origin of the silver is the mark of 'S. Kirk & Son, Co'. They measure 10 inches in diameter, weigh a total 144.35 troy ounces and are in very good/ excellent antique condition.
Provenance: Rear Admiral Winfield Scott Schley, by descent in the family.
"Silver for Schley" in the Baltimore Sun, May 3, 1902.