Jeremiah Dummer (silversmith)

Francis Skerry Beaker, c. 1670

Jeremiah Dummer (14 September 1645 – 24 May 1718[1]) was the first American-born silversmith,[2][3] whose works are today highly valued, two items of his having sold in 2004 and 2007 both for $204,000. He was also noted as a portrait painter and as an engraver, who created the first paper currency in Connecticut Colony. His son Jeremiah Jr. was involved with the foundation of Yale University.

Life

Dummer was born in Newbury, Massachusetts, the first son of Richard Dummer and his second wife, Frances Burr.[4]

At the age of 14, he was apprenticed to John Hull, the mintmaster at Boston.[4] Hull recorded at the time that he "received into my house Jeremie Dummer ... to serve me as Apprentice eight years".[5] When he was 23 he started on his own and became a prolific and notable silversmith making tankards, beakers, porringers, caudle cups and candlesticks. The fluted band on a plain surface is characteristic of his work.[4][6] He is said to have introduced into American silver the ornamentation known as "gadrooning", curved flutings on the surface of silver.[7]

He held many public offices, and was a Member and Captain of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Society in 1671 and Constable of Boston in 1675–76.[4] He was appointed Freeman of Boston in 1680, a member of Capt Hutchinson's Company in 1684, a member of the Council of Safety against Andres in 1689, a Selectman of Boston 1691–92, Judge of the Court of Common Pleas for Suffolk County 1702–15, Treasurer of Suffolk County 1711–16, and was a member in full communion at the venerable First Church.[4]

He was also an engraver, and engraved plates for currency: in 1710 he printed the first paper money in Connecticut.[4] When the government of Connecticut decided in 1709 to issue paper currency, or Bills of Exchange, Dummer was selected to do the engraving of the plates and the printing of the bills. Journals of the Council for 1710 show transactions with Dummer relating to this currency, and in 1712 Governor Saltonstall laid before the Council Board Dummer's bill for printing 6,550 sheets of this paper currency. Dummer's former apprentice, John Coney, had the distinction of engraving the plates for the first paper money issued by Massachusetts some years previously, the first issued on the American continent,[8] although some sources also credit Dummer with the engraving of the Massachusetts copper plates.[9]

Dummer was also one America's foremost early portrait painters. Among his paintings are a self-portrait and portrait of his wife, Anna,[10] together with portraits of many of his contemporaries.[11]

He died on 24 May 1718 in Boston.[1] His obituary printed in the Boston News-Letter on 2 June 1718 said:

Departed this life Jeremiah Dummer, Esqr., in the 73rd year of his Age, after a long retirement ... having served his country faithfully in several Publick Stations, and obtained of all that knew him the Character of a Just, Virtuous, and Pious Man;[1]

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