Tentative Outline for Arrivas House
I. Interpretative Objective
A. British Period Silversmith
B. With exceptions, first floor resembles the building at
the end of the British period. (See Summary)
II. The Building
A. Restored in 1961 by the St. Augustine Historical
Restoration and Preservation Commission
B. First house remains: c. 1650-1702
1. tabby walls and floors (similar to Gallegos)
2. rare concrete structure before 1702 destruction of
3. originally a one room structure with additional
4. coquina wall in northeast room (rarely used before
5. study of first house remains based on 1960 research
a. re-evaluation necessary
C. Destroyed in 1702 seige by Spanish military commander
1. all building within a musket shot of the fort (750 feet)
razed to the ground as a defense measure
D. Rebuilt with coquina: c. 1710-1740
1. part of general building program in stone; by 1764,
36 percent of all structures in St. Augustine were
made of coquina, 41 percent were tabby, 23 percent
2. rebuilt on same wall lines as former tabby structure
3. house plan:
a. two large rooms
b. loggia (roofed porch) to south
c. tabby patio to north
d. well in rear (present well reconstructed
E. Alterations and additions by 1764
1. building assumes L-shape
2. three rooms added as a southwest wing
a. less expensive tabby used in construction of
three of the walls
b. coquina used to construct southernmost wall
3. north-south coquina partition subdivided two large
a. perhaps partition dates from the British period
4. possible wood frame second floor, but sufficient
evidence is lacking to verify its existence
5. house located in a respectable neighborhood
a. with exception of the Gomez house, all buildings
on both sides of St. George from Cuna to Ft.
Lane were constructed of either tabby or stone
6. 1764 value of house: 3,462 pesos
F. British period
1. addition of fireplace in southeast room (presently
used as a silversmith workshop)
2. possible construction of north-south partition
G. Second Spanish Period
1. possible addition of wood frame second floor
H. Early American Period (Territorial Florida)
1. c. 1830: first documented evidence of a second floor
a. use of cut nails to date second floor
2. c. 1830: probable destruction of three-room south-
A. 1730's: don Diego Ripalido (conjectural)
1. born in Palermo, Sicily of Spanish parents
2. Lieutenant in Infantry in the garrison
3. 1738: married Ursula Avero
4. 1747: died
B. c. 1748-1764: don Raimundo de Arrivas
1. first documented owner
2. Second Lt. in Infantry: First Lt. by 1759
3. 1748: married'Ursula Avero, widow of Ripalido
4. six children born in St. Augustine; one in Havana, Cuba
C. 1764-1785: Jesse Fish and others (?)
1. reexamination of documentary evidence necessary
2. Fish was agent in the sale of Spanish properties
3. never paid the Arrivas family.the money for the house
D. 1785-1824: don Tadoe de Arrivas
1. 1767: born in Havana to don Raimundo de Arrivas
and Ursula Avero (1748-1764 owners of house)
2. 1785: appointed clerk of the Royal Treasury
3. reclaimed house from Fish without permanent
4. 1790: married Maria Garcia Perpal
a. Perpal from propertied St. Augustine family
5. four children
6. by 1815: Accountant (contador) of Royal Treasury
7. 1819: returned to Cuba
8. 1824: sold building and lot to John Oates for $1,200
E. 1824-1960: twenty-five changes in ownership
1. July 1, 1960: purchased by St. Augustine Historical
Restoration and Preservation Commission
A. House located on same site since mid-17th century
B. House built on 17th century wall lines
C. Restored first floor
1. resembles structure at the end of the British period
a. four interior rooms with southern porch,
fireplace in workshop area, and well in rear
(1) no rear three room wing
(2) presence of second story debatable
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"Silversmith of San Agustin Antiguo" JJy.
(a restored 18th Century Village) .
We are pleased to present you with a .
handcrafted silver beaker from the Silversmith
of San Agustin Antiguo. We trust that you will
be satisfied with its workmanship, and that the
beaker will serve you well for many years.
The term sterling silver refers to the
traditional English standard in use since the
Middle Ages and means that the metal is 925/1000
fine silver with the remainder generally copper.
The Silversmith of San Agustin Antiguo used this
particular composition to create your sterling
The beaker you have purchased began either
as a flat sheet of sterling silver formed by
hammering out an ingot or as a pre-rolled sheet.
Both forms were commercially available in the 18th
century. A disc cut from this sheet became the
body of the cup. The silversmith marked the exact
center of the disc, scribed a circle designating the diameter of the base, and,
supporting his work on the stake, hammered the disc inward and upward in a spiral
from base line to outer edge. All hammering in this "raising" process was done
on the outside surface of the cup. Since sterling silver hardens during raising,
two other\steps were necessary in this basic forming stage. In an operation called
"annealing", all the stresses built up by working the metal were relieved by heating
the silver to a temperature of 11000 12000 F.. Annealing was followed immediately
by "pickling" or cleaning the piece by boiling it in an acid solution. Both
procedures were done after each course of raising. After a number of courses the
cup approached its final shape but actually was still somewhat smaller than its
finished size. This slight margin allowed for the planishing or polishing of the
piece by hammering it with lightweight highly polished hammers until it was
entirely smooth. Planishing actually compresses the silver, so this operation
expanded the cup to its final form while polishing it. The silversmith then
trimmed the top edge of the piece and leveled the bottom, and applied any desired
ornamentation. Hand polishing with burnishers and abrasives (such as pumice or
jewelers rouge) was the final step.
Using 18th century methods, this beaker involved over 40 hours of exacting
hand labor. Approximately 500,000 blows totalling 16 hours of actual hammering
and at least ten repetitions of the raising, annealling and pickling operations
were required to produce the finished piece. Burnishing and hand rubbing are -
distinctive characteristics of the superior craftsmanship displayed in our
Silversmith Shop, where no modern labor-saving devices are used.
We hope that your sterling silver beaker will remind you of a pleasant visit
to San Agustin Antiguo, and that you will return again soon to the nation's oldest
Silversmith of San Agustin Antiauo
We are pleased that you have selected a handsome sterling silver
spoon from the Silversmith of San Agustin Antiguo. This precious metal
has been used for hundreds of years to form functional articles because
of its exceptional workability and strength.
The spoon is a British design common to the eighteenth century.
It is not necessarily a direct copy of an antique, but it is of appro-
priate character. The Silversmith Shop, located in an old Spanish home
on St. George Street, represents the years of British occupation of the
city, 1763-1783. Your spoon was made in this shop just as it would have
been over two hundred years ago.
SThree steps are required to produce the desired shape of your spoon:
hammering, annealing and pickling. The craftsman begins'with a piece of
sterling silver of appropriate weight, usually flat, of even thickness
and rectangular. He rests it on the .smooth surface of a steel anvil, and
prepares to form the handle first. Under hammer blows the silver is com-
pressed and turned, to thicken the area which will become the shank of
the spoon. Next the silver is expanded again by hammering, to widen the
bowl and lengthen the handle. Different hammers are required for these
operations since the silver responds directly to the shape of the hammer-
Sterling silver is worked cold, but tends to "work harden" or become
brittle. To maintain a malleable working quality the spoon must be
annealed or heated to approximately 11000-12000 F. When the proper
temperature has been reached, the silver is quenched in water or may be
S plunged directly into an acid solution prepared for the third step of
the spoon's shaping. By "pickling" the spoon in this acid solution,
VolS it is cleaned of residues built up during annealing. These three steps -
i hankering, annealing and pickling are repeated frequently in the
'^ ^ formative stage.
When the intended shape is approached, light-weight planishing or
polishing hammers are used. The sterling silver, trapped between the
hard anvil surface and the hard steel hammer, will accept the mirror-
smooth image of the steel and itself become mirror-like.
At this point the spoon is still flat, so the next step is "dapping" in the bowl.
The spoon is supported on a lead block while the bowl is formed. The craftsman may use
a convex hammer or drive down a polished steel swage especially made to produce a bowl
of a particular form. Final shaping is done with files. The spoon is then smoothed
with burnishers which compress the surface, and a bright finish is brought up with a
series of abrasives, ending with fine jewelers rouge. Your spoon represents about six
hours of hard, noisy, highly skilled work.
On the back of your spoon you will find "hallmarks." HSA with a crown is the -shop
mark; it means the completed spoon was approved by the Master Silversmith. The individual
craftsman is also identified by his name or symbol. To comply with modern laws governing
precious metal, we stamp "sterling" on each spoon to certify that the alloy used a
minimum 925/1000 fine silver. Two hundred years ago the accepted sterling mark used by
some British silversmiths was a lion.
We hope that your sterling silver spoon will remind you of an interesting visit to
San Agustin Antiguo, and that you will return again soon to the nation's oldest city!
"Silversmith of San Agustin Antiguo"
(a restored 18th Century Village)
We are pleased to present you with a handcrafted
pewter spoon from the Silversmith of San Agustin Antiguo.
We trust that you will be satisfied with its workmanship,
and that the spoon will serve you well for many years.
Pewter is an ancient alloy dating back to the Late
Bronze Age (c. 1000 B.C.). Bronze is mainly copper with
a little tin added; pewter, mainly tin with a little
copper added. Unlike bronze, pewter is quite soft and
malleable. It has a melting point of about 5000 and
casts well. Because of its low melting point it was
never widely used for cooking implements, but by the
eighteenth century it had become quite popular for table-
ware. During those years a variety of other metals, such
as iron, lead, antimony, and bismuth, were often added to
pewter to obtain certain characteristics or sometimes to
lower its price, but tin, though expensive, remained the
primary metal, to which copper was added for strength.
The pewter we use in the Silversmith Shop was known
during the eighteenth century as Britannia metal. It is
approximately 91 percent tin, 2 percent copper and 7 per-
The spoon you have purchased was made in the following
manner: Pewter, which comes in ingot form, was melted in
an iron pot over a charcoal forge, then poured into a
spoon mold. (Our molds are made of bronze and date from
the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.)
A minute later the casting was cool enough to be taken
from the mold. When it had completely cooled, the
finishing process began. First by clipping and filing,
the craftsman removed the sprue (the waste metal formed
at the mouth of the mold) and the flashing (the waste
formed by seepage between the sides of the mold). He
then burnished the surface with smooth steel tools to
erase minor flaws and file marks. Finally, he applied
pumice in a grease base to the spoon, polished it with
a scrap of leather, and rubbed it with jeweler's rouge
to produce the bright finish.
It is our sincere hope that your pewter spoon will
remind you of a pleasant visit to San Agustin Antiguo.
We hope to see you again soon in the nation's oldest
Background Information on William Sime (Simes, Sims)
In the census of 1784, taken during the opening months of the second
Spanish occupation of Florida, the following entry appears:
William Sims, native of Scotland, his intention is
to return to the British Dominions. He has a wife
and son, He is a silversmith. He has four negroes.
He lives in a borrowed house in the block of the
No other references to this individual have been found in the documentation
relating to either the British or the Second Spanish Periods.
It is highly probable, although not irrefutably proven, that the
"Guillermo Sims" of the 1784 census was William Sime, or Simes, of Georgia.
The photostatic copy of the original, handwritten census at the St. Augustine
Historical Society reveals that the census taker had originally written Sime
but had later superimposed an 's' over the 'e'. The fact that Sime and 'Sims'
were silversmiths is further evidence that they were, in fact, the same person.
Sime, a native of Scotland, had worked in London before immigrating
to America. Just when he came, or where he first settled, is not known.
His first documented appearance was in Savannah in April, 1768, for in that
month he and a business partner named Jacob Moses advertised in the Georgia
Gazette, describing themselves as "Goldsmiths and Jewelers." Sime's part-
nership with Moses was evidently short-lived, because in March, 1769, he
advertised alone. According to his announcement, he practiced all aspects
of the goldsmith and jewelry business: "He makes mourning rings, mounts
and repairs swords, jewelry made and mended superior to any imported. "
(Here it should be noted that goldsmithing and silversmithing were in fact
the same craft. Since gold was considered more prestigious than silver,
many craftsmen who worked principally in the latter advertised themselves
Sometime between 1769 and 1774 Sime took another partner, a man
named Wright, but he was working independently again by April, 1774. His
last announcement in the Georgia Gazette appeared in January, 1775 the
latest date on which one can definitely place him in Savannah.
Sime was an avowed loyalist, and he was not afraid to stand up for his
principles. On September 7, 1774, he signed a resolution of loyalty to the
crown, a stand which ultimately cost him his home and property. In March,
1778, the rebel legislature of Georgia passed an Act of Attainder accusing
over 100 persons of high treason, confiscating their property, and threatening
them with death should they be apprehended. Among those so accused was
William Simes. By that time he almost certainly had taken refuge in Florida.
Sime was in East Florida, therefore, at least six years, if not longer.
It is unknown whether he was married at the time he fled Georgia or whether
he took a wife in St. Augustine. When East Florida was returned to Spain,
Sime elected to leave. Unfortunately, no source has yet come to light to
indicate where he ultimately settled.
Overton G. Ganong,