USS Maryland Silver Service(48 pieces)
In 1904, Maryland governor Edwin Warfield commissioned the creation of a custom silver service to be placed on the new armored cruiser Maryland. Soon after the creation of the Maryland Cruiser Fund Commission, the contract to design and fabricate the silver was awarded to the Baltimore firm of Samuel Kirk and Sons.
Soon after the commissioning of the service, the members of the Cruiser Fund Commission began to identify the images to be depicted on the pieces, and undertook a massive site-wide fundraising effort to raise $5,000 to create the service. This fundraising effort appealed to patriotism and civic specifically targeted children, women, and “rich and poor,” and was well-chronicled in local newspapers. In May 1906, a total of $5,000 had been raised by citizens and schoolchildren of Maryland to purchase this silver service.
The set depicts 167 scenes from the history of Maryland's 23 counties and Baltimore City. The USS Maryland silver service is unique. Not only do its pieces portray the houses, churches, and events of Maryland history, but their decorative borders symbolize the economy and culture of the state. Festooned tobacco leaves and oyster shell borders symbolize the importance of both land and water. Rope borders on each piece evoke the nautical origin of the service and the names of 12 noteworthy Maryland naval officers are engraved on the 12 punch cups.
On July 21, 1921, the U.S. Navy commissioned the battleship Maryland to replace the original cruiser, and the silver service was transferred to the new ship. After 26 years of service, including duty during World War II, the Maryland, known as “Fighting Mary”, was decommissioned on April 3, 1947. The silver service, which had been in storage during the war, was returned to Baltimore. The silver was displayed in the main gallery of the Maryland Historical Society until 1962 when the silver was placed on permanent loan to the state of Maryland and exhibited in the State House.
The entire service was displayed in the State House until 1992 when the submarine U.S.S. Maryland (SSBN 738) was commissioned and four pieces of the Maryland silver service [sugar bowl, creamer and a pair of candlesticks] were loaned to the Navy for display onboard the ship. The remaining 44 pieces remained on display in the Maryland Silver Room in the State House until 2008 when they were removed in preparation for the recreation of the Old House of Delegates. The punch bowl and ladle were used annually at holiday celebrations at Government House until the late 1990s.
The entire silver service was cleaned and conserved by Creative Metalworks of Kensington, MD in 2010-11 in preparation for its unveiling in the State House Caucus Room. Each of the pieces has been “clear-coated” to make them less susceptible to tarnish.
(Gravy Boat & Ladle)
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