The Craftsman Shop Exhibit
See Our 1840s-50s Silversmith Workshop
Th, Fri: 10AM-4PM, Sat: 10AM-2PM
Watch Our Craftsman Shop Exhibit Videos
Get the latest museum news sent to your inbox!
Learn the Lifestyle of a 19th-Century Silversmith
The Silversmith's Workshop
Step back in time to our craftsman’s shop, which has many of the same features you could find in a silversmith’s workshop before the Civil War. Take a moment to imagine the silversmith hard at work—molding pieces in the forge and using hammers and anvils to shape their silver into into things like cups and bowls.
Craftsman shops were often part of a family home and members of the family usually helped with the work. Apprentices would often live with the family while they learned the craftsman’s skill.
To keep metal malleable or workable under the stress of repeated hammer blows, the silversmith frequently reheated his pieces in the forge. For larger objects, silversmiths would use a crucible and create cast molds to help with making each part of the finished product. Silversmiths also used a pair of shears to cut out pieces of sheer silver that were soldered with the help of a blow pipe and soldering lamp.
While we all associate the forge as core to the silversmith’s work, keep in mind that craftsmen had to wear many hats in the pre-industrial period. Designing, making, selling, and managing were all necessary skills for a successful craftsperson during this time.
As an example, silversmiths in the pre-industrial period often worked in exchange for goods instead of money. Keeping careful accounts was therefore especially important to judge the success of their business. They’d also make sure to keep an attractive display in the shop window, which along with newspaper advertising, would help bring in new customers.
Fast Fact #40
Did you know? 19th-century silversmiths often worked from home. Apprentices would, therefore, often live with the family.
See Us In Person
Plan Your Visit
We’d love to hear your story about Balfour, whether it’s a family anecdote, possession, or something else. Please let us know if we can tell your story online or in the museum.