SIMS SILVER SHOP
This is a frame house-shop combination typical of the kind built by
English refugees from the American Revolution in the 1780's. A silver-
smith named William Sims from Charleston operated such a shop in St.
Augustine during the British era, migrating from South Carolina with all
his tools and possessions. The exact location of his establishment is
unknown; this building only reproduces the edifice.
Sims was a bachelor, whose meals were prepared and laundry done
by a Negro slave woman who lived and worked in the small matching shed
to the west. He utilized the center area as a living room, show-room, and
reception room. The gateleg table is a late 18th century antique. So is the
pitcher. Against the east wall is a 19th century copy of a Chippendale chair.
The small display case contains an assortment of antique sterling silver
spoons from various periods between 1750 and 1800, plus a heavy pewter
one from the early 1700's. The northeast wall case contains on its upper
shelf a pair of Georgian pewter candlesticks, an 1800-model candle-wick
trimmer (sometimes wrongly called a "snuffer") and tray of silver plate, a
cutwork sterling silver basket dated 1785 by its hallmarks, and a plated-
silver ladle; the lower shelf displays a modern reproduction of a 1790-model
English tureen or serving-dish, a mid-19th century sterling silver copy of a
1760 "pipkin", (used for pouring hot water or milk into a cup or pot), a
typical 1785-model English pewter "tea-caddy" with bone-handled lid and a
lock and key (to keep servants from removing tea in the owner's absence),
and a modern reproduction of a 1760 English pewter pitcher.
The double case in the southeast corner contains on its upper shelf an
early 19th century silver-plated desk set with two inkwells and a center holder
for a sealing-wax candle, a pewter double-lens fish-oil reading lamp recorded
from 1790, and a 1780 antique cylindrical pewter one-pint measure; below on
the lower shelf stands a pair of antique silver "baluster" style candle-sticks
(so called because they are shaped like balusters on stairways in classical
Georgian architecture), a brass ladle, and a late 18th century pewter pitcher
with hinged lid and bearing an English hallmark on its bottom. Hanging on
the exterior of the showcase is an antique copper cooking pan.
The western half of the large room served as the silversmith's shop.
The dozens of assorted iron tools such as the miniature vise-anvils and
hammers are antiques of the period. So is the accountant's desk, on top
of which sets an even older silver-plated coffee pot with walnut handle and
bone rosette lid-knob. Likewise of early 19th century manufacture are the
keys and the brass scales on the wall.
Other featured items of furnishing are modern reproductions made in
our shop: the wire-reducer with its thick belt, massive handles, and set
of dies for shaping silver wire as well as reducing its diameter; the work-
bench against the north wall, with spaces for three apprentices to work, the
huge bellows beside the fireplace where casting is done; the reed chairs, of
a type probably made locally in the 18th century. On the railing between
workshop and reception area is a small display rack for exhibiting different
styles of spoons available to the customer.
The north wing of the building was used by Mr. Sims as a bedroom and
dressing room. Antiques of the period are: the dresser, with its wig stand
and jewel box; the large "blanket chest", used principally to store clothing
in an era without closets; the Turkish rug on the floor; and the candle-holder
on the table.
Early 19th century pieces are: the wash-stand with mirror, pitcher,
and bowl; the table in "Chinese Chippendale" style; and the Hepplewhite lyre-back
Modern reproductions of period items are the bed, the reed chairs, the
table items, and the two wall decorations (soldier print and map of Florida).