Four Coin Silver Dessert Spoons by the Mormon’s Pioneer Silversmith
Maker: James Madison Barlow
Origin: Lexington, Kentucky
Barlow married his cousin Eliza Barlow at Lexington, Kentucky on June 24th, 1835. Five children were the result of this union. Barlow born July 9th 1812 and raised with privilege at Georgetown, KY. practiced his silver trade at nearby Lexington through the decade of the 1840s. He also preached within the Baptist faith and worked as a dentist. In the spring of 1850, motivated by the discovery of gold in California, Barlow left his family and headed West. His company of trekkers experienced hardships on the journey with half succumbing to cholera on the high plains. He wandered into the recently founded Mormon city of Salt Lake where he met Brigham Young. Impressed by Young, Barlow took baptism on August 25th, 1850. Fulfilling his brief missionary tour in the Southeast (without purse or script) where he visited his family living in Lexington and his former Georgetown home. Unable to persuade them to join him he returned to Salt Lake City where he soon became a lay minister spending the remaining 43 years of life. There he married three possibly four women who bore 23 children. Two of his wives were sisters, Susanna & Electa Mott, domestic servants for Young. Barlow is said to have made the first silverware (by a Euro-American) in the Utah territory for Young to be used in his beehive home. In 1860 Barlow was commissioned by Young to mint five dollar gold pieces. In eight days he with his assistant, Douglas Brown, produced 472 coins. In 1867 he fashioned a dozen two handled silver cups (sacramental communion) for the new timber framed Great Tabernacle. The cups now on display at the LDS Church Museum located on Temple Square.
The set of spoons with period monograms front and reverse reading MBF & AO (or possibly AQ) respectively appear to date from the 1840s probably placing them among Barlow’s scant Lexington output. Preaching and dentistry might have detracted from his smithy business. Slight, almost indiscernible, stir wear to tips. Otherwise excellent original condition. Most of the biographical information from above was pulled from Mark Boultinghouse’s book, Silversmiths of Kentucky and Donald Enders article, James Madison Barlow, Patriarch of Utah Silversmiths, published in the July-August 1983 issue of The Magazine Silver