Thomas You, Sterling Silver Punch Strainer, c. 1753 – c.1786, Charleston Silversmith Hallmark TY, Never Know What You Find At Garage Sales

Thomas You, Sterling Silver Punch Strainer, c. 1753 – c.1786, Charleston Silversmith Hallmark TY, Never Know What You Find At Garage Sales

Thomas You, was not only a Charleston, South Carolina silversmith that practiced his trade in the 18th century, but was also known as a true patriot. During the siege of Charleston in 1780 he is the only silversmith that did not sign the petition asking General Lincoln to capitulate to the British.  If this was found out he surely would have lost his life.

There is not the amount of quality southern silver as there is of their northern counterpart.  They attribute this in part to first, the smaller population of wealthy southern families and second the contribution of period silver by wealthy southern families to help finance the Revolutionary War.

I found this punch strainer in 1996 at a garage sale. It was at the time in a box of cooking utensils and had tarnished to a completely black finnish or as they say, “black as sin.”  They say you should never clean antiques, but there is the exception to this rule, silver being one of them.

From my many hours of reading and researching the pages of, “Antiques,”  I knew right away that it was 18th century or the latest,  first quarter of 19th century.  I could not believe my lucky find.  It was not only 18th century,  but made by a documented southern silversmith, Thomas You, a rarity in itself.

Until you have inspected old silver  with a loupe you will deprive yourself of the beauty and character etched into an antique piece of silver. Every scratch from the fine line to the deep gouge gives the piece a character that only when you see it close and personal so you realize this unseen beauty hidden in open view.  As you look at it, there are literally hundreds of scratch marks that forms a wonderful abstract design giving each piece surface that own silver-gray glow of old silver. Difficult to describe unless you have inspected antiques up close with a loupe.

I have often romanticized about a wonderful piece of antique silver and its travel in time. This piece had survived the American Revolution, and amazingly it escaped being melted down in the cause of the freedom.  During the Civil War, maybe the owners had it hidden it in some dark recess of a wall or attic but more likely buried in the woods, else it be plundered by some union soldier. It also has survived the many wars far from our shores allowing freedom in plain view as it safely survive the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam and Desert Storm.  Maybe it graced an elegant sideboard or was stuffed in some drawer were it was a nuisance and finally the last owner before me decided to throw it in the $1 box at a garage sale…..what a journey.  From its first home in a wealthy Charleston family to finally in the post modern technical age in cyberspace, what a journey.

And here as it continues it journey in a world the owners could not have imagined.  Enjoy the following photos:

Still elegant, even with missing handle
Strainer still retains its fire skin testament to the skill of the silversmith
Visible is the years of usage that the accumulate scratches still grace the strainer beautifully
Wonderful design that his skill
Visible is the hallmark TY in the end of handle
Nice image of Thomas You punch strainer
This punch strainer must have been a beauty when first made for it has lost none of its glow 225 years
Closeup of the handle and the beautiful design of Thomas You punch strainer
Good image of the back of the  punch strainer with missing and existing handle that are used to rest the strainer on punch bowl
Here is a good image of the break on the whole still intact handle
Back of the strainer with a good view of the many scratches, its time wrinkles that have developed over the decades
Back of the handle that is still present. You will notice a small break that goes all the way through at the top of handle closest to the area it is soldered to the strainer
You can actually see the file mark on the side of broken handle and the solder spot where handle is attached
Thomas You punch strainer the showing entire silver piece and missing handle
Beautiful hand punched holes of a wonderful design
Side of strainer that handle is broken
Hallmark of Thomas You TY visible on handle
Here is a good image of the break in the handle that is still intact on the strainer

Gallery | This entry was posted in Americana, Silver and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Thomas You, Sterling Silver Punch Strainer, c. 1753 – c.1786, Charleston Silversmith Hallmark TY, Never Know What You Find At Garage Sales

  1. Lyman McCallum says:

    Is this piece for sale? Thanks, Lyman McCallum, email


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