Personal Effects, May 13

Published 8:59 am Monday, May 15, 2017


Question: Jerry, About 10 years ago I went to an estate auction that had some early Kentucky antiques, old silver pieces, and a few jewelry items. It was announced that most of the items were made by early Kentucky silversmiths. Not knowing anything about them I took a chance and bought a few things including this gold wedding band. It seems unusually wide and is marked “Peacock” inside the ring. There are some other letters but they are about worn off. Who was “Peacock”, where was he located, and what is the age and value of this ring? Thanks!

Answer: You have a beautiful, old wedding band. Thomas Peacock was a jeweler and silversmith in Lancaster, Kentucky. He was first listed in the Hawes’ Kentucky State Gazeteer and Business Directory for 1859 – 60.

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According to several sources Mr. Peacock remained a bachelor until marrying at age 54, when he married Margaret Johnson, aged 48, on the 9th of May 1872. His sister, Mary Jane Peacock, married Samuel Wherritt, a Richmond, Kentucky silversmith.

Peacock worked in Louisville, for a short time, in 1887 – 1888. He advertised as being a dealer in watches, clocks and jewelry.

Your ring was made by, or at least was retailed by Peacock. Many times, just like today, jewelers could have larger firms manufacture wares and have their names or locations stamped on them. I feel like this simple gold band could have easily been made by a jeweler or silversmith with some basic skills.

I’m going to call this a Kentucky piece. Date? I’m going to say that it’s from the 1870s. Only a family history, which you don’t have, would have shed light on this. You don’t see many gold items from this period. It could be that they wore out or they were melted down to create other pieces. But I think that it’s a nice Kentucky piece with a certain Lancaster history attached to it.

It’s in good condition. Being a ring, the engraving that was inside and on the outside is virtually worn away. Value is a tad tricky. A scholar who collects Kentucky decorative arts items but an average collector often shy away from intensely personal items like wedding bands.

It’s marked Peacock 14KT. But its value is beyond the scope of just a scrap value. I think that at a good quality shop that deals in Kentucky silver and decorative arts, this would be priced at about $450. Keep your eyes open. It would be so cool if you could find a period box for it. I’ll bet one is out there somewhere. Thanks for sharing it with us.