H. F. Wichman Sterling Julep Strainer

Here is a sterling silver julep strainer marked “Sterling” and “H. F. Wichman”. It measures 5 and 3/4 inches long; the bowl is 2 and 7/8 inches wide. The bowl has a light gold matte wash, both sides. Weight is 57.3 grams. An interesting design detail is the smooth bowl…no scallop shell or swirl design.

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Henry F. Wichman was born in Hanover, Germany in 1866. His family emigrated to New York in 1868. Henry’s children write that their father went to Hawaii in 1877, a successful candidate to an ad placed in a San Francisco newspaper by Hawaiian King Kalakaua who was looking for an engraver and jeweler. Henry began in the jewelry business that same year along with J. E. Gomes as ” Gomes & Wichman”. One year later ((1888) Henry bought out Gomes and became sole owner. In 1903 the firm of “H. F. Wichman & Co. Ltd.” was incorporated with Henry as president. I estimate that this strainer was made in the 1890s as there is no “& Co.” after Wichman’s name. H. F. Wichman & Co. are still in business today.

Why King Kalakaua was looking for a jeweler and engraver, I do not know. And I don’t know what Henry’s relationship with the King was. The King was called the “Merry Monarch” and liked to entertain. He was very well traveled, a man of the world. Maybe he wanted Henry to fashion a julep strainer for him as it was very popular in the States at that time. Who knows?

The handle of the strainer has an engraving which I thought at first might just be a fanciful design. Looking more closely, however, I think it might be a monogram, perhaps a “J”.

You might also find my blog post on The Victorian Bar interesting as well: http://queenofsienna.wordpress.com/2013/06/29/the-victorian-bar/

This strainer is available for sale here at my Etsy shop:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/578426892/h-f-wichman-sterling-silver-julep

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