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The history of the decorative arts in the United States has been related by many authors, but has always been concerned almost entirely with objects produced in the Eastern portion of the country. In areas such as Detroit that were not directly connected with the seventeenth and eighteenth-century settlements on the East Coast, little basic research has been accomplished. It will be the purpose of this writer to discuss one area of the decorative arts, silver, in depth, with the hope that the reader already cognizant in the field in the Eastern United States may be made aware of the contribution the Detroit area has made to the decorative arts of this country.

The general history of silver in the largest early cities of New France, Montreal and Quebec, will be considered, as smiths from this area gave birth to the craft in Detroit, as well as a more specific history of the men who developed the craft in Detroit itself. This latter history will cover not only the early French silversmiths but also those men working during the period of English domination and during the early years of American rule. Particular attention will be paid to silver ornaments made for the Indian trade as the area was of particular importance to the trade in Detroit prior to 1830.