NEWS RELEASE: Historic Huguenot Street Celebrates Dutch Culture with Silver Spoon Exhibit
NEW PALTZ, NY (September 23, 2016) – Historic Huguenot Street celebrates the abiding influence of the Dutch New Netherland colony in the Hudson Valley with Marking the Occasion, an exhibit centering around 17th- and 18th-century Dutch silver spoons from the collections of Jonathan Z. Friedman and George Way. The catalogue of these ornate and fascinating objects and accompanying remarks were prepared by Kevin Tierney, Silver Consultant for Sotheby’s.
When the French Huguenots who founded New Paltz first arrived in what was then New Netherland, they initially settled in the Dutch town of Wiltwijck (today's Kingston) in the 1660s and 1670s. The Dutch influence on the Huguenot settlers is apparent in the architecture of the stone houses on Huguenot Street, as well as in its collections of artifacts, recipes, legal documents, and furniture.
Individual spoons became plentiful in Holland in the 17th century and later. They were given as presents to mark births and marriages, but also death and special events. For each occasion, appropriate finials were chosen, with favorites including Plenty or Bounty (a female figure holding a bouquet and frond), Charity (with its family symbolism of mother and children), Hope (a female figure with an anchor), William and Mary (suggesting patriotism), and Apostles (chosen for a new child’s name). The finials were cast from molds which were used for years. Spoons fashioned in the towns of Friesland had a similar range of finials, but often had openwork stems frequently decorated with cherub heads. The shape of the bowls moved from fig shape to egg shape, the latter resembling the bowls of tablespoons.
“Dutch solid silver spoons were considered very precious objects,” explained collector George Way. “These spoons were highly regarded as not only works of art, but were an indication of great wealth.” Because of their value, they were also passed down from one generation to the next. These customs persisted in America as well. Like English silver, Dutch spoons are usually indicated by the city mark (often a coat of arms), a lion rampant crowned to indicate silver, a date letter from repeating alphabets, and a maker’s mark.
The exhibit is enhanced by the inclusion of comparative examples of spoons of varying types from England, America, and elsewhere, as well as carved wooden spoon racks and four period Dutch paintings. A selection of Delft pieces from the collections of Mary Etta Schneider and Sanford Levy further enrich the display.
Marking the Occasion: Dutch Silver Spoons from the Collection of George Way and Jonathan Z. Friedman will be on display in the DuBois Fort from October 1 through December 18 during regular open hours. The exhibit is free and open to the public.
A National Historic Landmark District, Historic Huguenot Street is a 501(c)3 non-profit that encompasses 30 buildings across 10 acres that was the heart of the original 1678 New Paltz settlement, including seven stone houses that date to the early eighteenth century. It was founded in 1894 as the Huguenot Patriotic, Historical, and Monumental Society to preserve the nationally acclaimed collection of stone houses. Since then, Historic Huguenot Street has grown into an innovative museum, chartered as an educational corporation by the University of the State of New York, that is dedicated to protecting our historic buildings, conserving an important collection of artifacts and manuscripts, and promoting the stories of the Huguenot Street families, from the sixteenth century to today.
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