Elias Pelletreau: Long Island Silversmith and Entrepreneur, 1726–1810 explores the life and work of one of early America’s most accomplished rural artisans. Although objects made by Pelletreau are now in the collections of major American museums, he has garnered less scholarly attention than his better-known contemporaries, such as silversmiths Myer Myers (1723–1795) in New York and Paul Revere II (1734–1818) in Boston. This book provides the most comprehensive study to date of Pelletreau’s remarkable career—from his apprenticeship in New York City in the 1740s, to the establishment of his workshop in bucolic Southampton, New York, to the violent upheaval of the Revolutionary War that disrupted his later years.
The book illuminates Pelletreau’s craftsmanship, business operations, innovative marketing strategies, stylistic influences, and clientele; as Long Island’s leading silversmith, he served a wide array of customers from day-laborers to wealthy landowners and influential political leaders. His son and later his grandsons followed in his footsteps as silversmiths. Placing their experiences within a broader historical context greatly informs our understanding of the vital role of craftsmen in early America. Incorporating extensive archival evidence from the Pelletreau family’s surviving account books and a stunning array of their silver fabrications, this book makes a significant contribution to the history of New York and early American material culture.
Elias Pelletreau: Long Island Silversmith and Entrepreneur, 1726-1810
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