Pelletreau Silver Shop in Southampton will be displaying hundreds of antique silver bookmarks from the Myra Weiser Collection through most of December. Weiser has one of the largest collections of antique silver bookmarks in the world.
Open November 16–December 23, the exhibition features 330 bookmarks made by European and American silversmiths between 1800 and 1920. Each exquisite piece is an example of the fine craftsmanship put into these relatively innocuous objects.
The Southampton Historical Museum, which has the collection on loan from Weiser, notes that these antique bookmarks came in a variety of exquisite designs and had practical use beyond simply marking a page. “Bookmarks come in all shapes and sizes,” the museum explains. “Many are shaped like knives or swords for a very good reason. Between 1500 and 1900 most books came with pages attached and had to be cut open with a knife in order to read. A tool that combined a bookmark with a knife became a popular gift item in the 19th century.”
As such, the silver bookmarks became fanciful and included figures of animals, elaborate botanical designs and busts of famous people. Myra Weiser’s collection comprises a wide array of examples, demonstrating various trends, craftsmen and places of origin. “It’s perfect for the small Pelletreau shop,” Southampton Historical Museum director Tom Edmonds says, noting that their resident silversmith Eric Messin could probably recreate certain bookmarks from the exhibition, if someone really wanted a unique and special memento or Christmas gift. And the cost shouldn’t be too exorbitant, Edmonds says, adding, “He’s reasonable.”
To see this exciting collection, and maybe order a bookmark of your own, visit the 1686 Elias Pelletreau Silver Shop, a property of the Southampton Historical Museum and “the oldest continuously opened shop in the Western Hemisphere,” at 80 Main Street in Southampton Village. A special Opening Reception will be held there on Saturday, November 30 at 4 p.m.
For more info, call the Southampton Historical Museum at 631-283-2494 or visit their website at southamptonhistoricalmuseum.org.