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Weiser Collection Of Antique Silver Bookmarks On Display At Southampton Historical Museum

Edward Callaghan
John Wegorzewski

Pelletreau Silversmith Shop built in 1686 on Main Street Southampton. (Photo: John Wegorzewski)

One of the world's largest collections of antique silver bookmarks from the collection of Myra Weiser was unveiled on Saturday, November 30, at the historic Pelletreau Silversmith Shop, one of the five historic properties of the Southampton Historical Museum & Research Center.

Approximately 450 bookmarks made by European and American silversmiths between 1800 and 1920, featuring images of animals, elaborate botanicals, fictional characters and busts of famous people comprise the collection on view. Bookmarks come in all shapes and sizes and were not simply place holders. Many are shaped like knives or swords for a very good reason - between 1500 and 1900 most books came with pages attached at the ends and had to be cut open with a knife in order to be read. In the early part of the 19th Century bookmarks became fanciful and revealed the fine craftsmanship of the silversmith.

The Pelletreau Silversmith Shop erected in 1686 was, despite its tiny size, the ideal venue for this collection. It is the only trade shop built in the 1600s in America that has been in continuous use and in its original location on Southampton's Main Street. Originally a dry goods store, it was purchased in 1717 by Francis Pelletreau who immigrated to Southampton from New York City to develop his business of producing oil and candles from whales that drifted to Southampton beaches. His grandson Elias Pelletreau occupied the building between 1750 and 1810 making jewelry, shoe buckles, tankards, silverware etc. His son, nephew and grandson continued the family tradition of silver smithing into the 19th Century. The shop is now occupied by master jeweler Eric Messin who learned his unique trade crafting elegant jewels for Van Cleef & Arpels among other fabled houses. Messin gives tours of the building and conducts workshops in jewelry making. Continuing a centuries old tradition, he also creates and sells his unique jewelry pieces fashioned from precious metals and gemstones.

As the shop was too tiny for a full reception, Myra Weiser and her husband renowned cardiologist Dr. Frank Weiser hosted friends and historical buffs at a lovely reception a few doors down at the elegant Sant Ambroeus Restaurant where guests sipped on Bellinis and nibbled exquisite hors d'oeuvres. Among those on hand were Maribeth Edmonds and Tom Edmonds, Executive Director of the Southampton Historical Museum & Research Center, jeweler Eric Messin with his wife Marcellina & son Theo, Cheri Kaufman & Bill Sclight, Diana Kashan, Ann & Vincent Madonia, filmmaker Benjamin Cummings and his mother historian Mary Cummings, Sandra Walser, Miguel Barg, antique rug expert Hans Boojan, Sherri & Joe Abruzzese, society portrait artist Zita Davisson, architect, historian and author Anne Surchin of "Houses of the Hamptons 1880-1930," Gary Lawrance, Vivienne Bates and Roxanne Bates. Greg Ballou, Emma Ballou and Matthew Nuccio, Sherry Ballou and Jan Edmonds. As there were two birthday celebrants attending Cheri Kaufman and Edward Callaghan, Sant Ambroeus' Hans Pauli presented the two with mini marzipan cakes to commemorate the day.

Antique Silver Bookmarks from the Collection of Myra Weiser is on display through Monday, December 23rd at The Pelletreau Silver Shop (80 Main Street, Southampton). For more information visit: www.SouthamptoHistoricalMuseum.org


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