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    Description

    A Rare Bell & Brothers Coin Silver Mug, San Antonio, Texas, circa 1865
    Marks: BELL & BRO'S, SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS
    4 inches high (10.2 cm)
    8.57 troy ounces

    Cup engraved Robt Lee Withers, from his, God Mother

    The recipient is likely Robert Lee Withers, born July 20, 1869, Bexar County, San Antonio, Texas. Robert was a lifelong resident of San Antonio and was a well-respected doctor within the community. Withers' father, John, was a prominent San Antonian who was a West Point graduate, and served under General Robert E. Lee in both the U.S. and Confederate Armies. After marrying Anita Dwyer in 1859, John returned to San Antonio as a banker, fathering four sons and two daughters. Robert died on July 24, 1927 and is buried in the San Fernando Cemetery in San Antonio.

    Samuel Bell was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1798. He was exposed at an early age to the manufacturing business, apprenticing at an arms factory in Pittsburgh during the War of 1812. Bell moved to Knoxville, Tennessee in 1819, marrying Eliza Carr the following year, with whom Bell fathered thirteen children. In Knoxville, Bell founded a silversmith and metalworking shop making jewelry, spoons, spurs, swords, cups and tablewares, etc. His storefront sold a variety of goods beyond metalwork including groceries, tools, and medical supplies. A notable Bell commission was a pair of silver spurs worn by General Samuel Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto during the Mexican-American War. Bell rose to prominence in Knoxville, serving as its mayor for two tenures (1840-1842, 1844-1846). In 1852, Bell sold his business interests to his assistant Daniel Hope and moved to San Antonio, Texas. Bell purportedly used Mexican reales to produce silver, tablewares, spurs, Bowie knives, and jewelry at his small adobe storefront on Commerce Street. Clientele listed in the company's register included Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, Ulysses S. Grant, and other prominent military figures. In about 1860, the firm was renamed "Bell & Bros," still retaining the name so many in Texas had associated with quality goods, while also denoting that the Bell sons now managed most of the manufacturing and retailing duties. Samuel died in 1882, and his sons David, Powhatan, and Jessup Bell continued working in silver. The three brothers sold the firm in 1895 to Benjamin Hammond, who continued to use the inclusion of its founder in title, renaming it "The Bell Jewelry Company" and operated until 1961.





    Condition Report*: Varying degrees of surface scratching and errant nicking, two heavier nicks at foot, shallow crease mark to reverse, presenting well with wear commensurate with age, polishing, and use.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Dates
    April, 2017
    20th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
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