Myers, Myer

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MYERS, MYER (1723–1795), U.S. silversmith. Myers was born in New York, where his parents had emigrated from Holland. He learned his trade early and at 23 set up shop on Lower Wall Street, where he not only engaged successfully in his craft but also sold tea, coffee, spices, and tobacco. By 1755 he had expanded his trade to Philadelphia. Myers was active in the general community, in Freemasonry, and in the synagogue, serving as president of Congregation Shearith Israel in New York in 1759 and again in 1770. During the American Revolution he was a patriotic stalwart, and he and his family moved from the city during the British occupation, going first to Norwalk, Connecticut, and later to Philadelphia. There he used his skill to smelt down metal household goods and turn them into bullets. Myers returned to New York in 1783 and was a signatory of the address to Governor George Clinton from the "congregation of Israelites lately returned from exile." Myers was a highly skillful and versatile master craftsman, who created the first American examples of Jewish ceremonial objects and was also distinguished for his general ornamental and functional pieces. There are many examples of his work in places of worship, museums, and private collections. For the synagogues of New York, Newport, and Philadelphia he made silver Torah bells (rimmonim) which are still in use. His versatility is revealed in his alms basins and baptismal bowls. His mark "myers" was most frequently stamped on his work in script in a shaped cartouche though sometimes he merely used his initials, MM. In 1786 he was elected chairman of the Gold and Silversmiths' Society of New York. He was buried in the cemetery that still exists off Chatham Square in Lower Manhattan.

The U.S. Post Office issued an 8-cent stamp on American Independence Day 1972 to commemorate Colonial American craftsmen. The first day cover reproduces the Torah Scroll ornaments which Myers created for Congregation Shearith Israel in New York City. The single largest collection of Myers' silver is on display in the Klutznik Exhibit Hall of the B'nai B'rith Building in Washington.


J.W. Rosenbaum, Myer Myers, Goldsmith (1954), includes bibliography; G. Schoenberger, in: ajhsp, 43 (1953), 1–9.

[Alfred Werner]