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Aberdeen, Mississippi Silver Spoon by Clarence T. Gifford

Aberdeen, Mississippi Silver Spoon by Clarence T. Gifford
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Offered is a very rare example of antique Mississippi coin silver (actually, very early sterling silver) bearing the retailer's mark of Clarence T. Gifford of Aberdeen, MS. Located on the banks of the Tombigbee River, Aberdeen was one of the busiest Mississippi ports of the 19th century.

Mr. Gifford (bio below) was born in 1833 practiced his trade as a jeweler in Aberdeen for the majority of his career, from the late 1850s through about 1893 (aside from the period of his service from 1862-65 in the Confederate Army); at that time he relocated to Tacoma, Washington, and carried on the trade for many more years. His father S. K. Gifford, was also a jeweler, who relocated from the Northeast to Camden, SC and then to Aberdeen, before this death in 1856. This spoon has a manufacturer's mark for Wood & Hughes and Clarence T. Gifford's retailer's mark, and is in a fiddle pattern with a period engraved script monogram. It dates to the late 1860s or 1870s, and so was retailed in Mississippi. This spoon measures about 5 7/8 inches in length and weighs 19 grams. Condition overall is fair at best, with lots of bends and surface wear, but no splits or repairs. In this case, condition is less important than an exceedingly rare Southern silver mark. All in all a nice rare example from an inland Mississippi silversmith, watchmaker and jeweler!

Biography of Clarence T. Gifford (from the book "Tacoma: Its History and Its Builders - a Half Century of Activity"):

Clarence Talbot Gifford was born August 30, 1833 (1834) to Mary E. (Talbot) Gifford and S. K. Gifford, at Fall River, MA. His father, S.K. Gifford, a jeweler, relocated from Massachusetts to Camden, South Carolina and thereafter to Aberdeen, Mississippi, where he died in 1856. S. K. Gifford volunteered for a South Carolina Regiment during the Indian Wars in Florida, where he held the rank of Second Lieutenant. Mary E. (Talbot) Gifford lived until 1896.

Clarence T. Gifford attended an academy in South Carolina and later attended school in Providence, RI, the state of his mother's ancestors. He served a four-year apprenticeship in the jeweler and optician trades with his cousin, Ellis Gifford, at Fall River, MA. He then went into business for himself, first briefly at Yorkville, SC, and then at Aberdeen, where he worked for many years. He moved in 1893 to Tacoma, WA, engaging again in the trade of jeweler for many more years, passing away there in 1918.

Clarence served three years in the Confederate Army with distinction; he was never wounded but saw action at Vicksburg and the Sieges of Atlanta and Nashville. He attained the rank of ordnance sergeant of his regiment, and surrendered with the rest of Gen. Johnston's army at Greensboro, NC in April 1865. In 1871, Clarence married Nina J. Knowles (1854-1940) of Aberdeen, MS; the couple had three daughters.

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