The Hans Christensen Sterling Silversmith's Award
2004 Award Winner: James A. Curtis


From SAS Supporting Member, Chip deMatteo: Silversmith Jim Curtis, when asked to explain his successful career, cites good manners and hospitality as his most valuable assets. These are desirable traits, to be sure, but are rarely mentioned by crafstmen. Interviews with silversmiths are full of quotes about "respect for the metal" and " love of working with one's hands." Jim's focus has always been on the customer. An unusually congenial man, especially for a silversmith, Jim's personal connection with people sold his work in huges numbers to a clientele who often were not typical silver buyers.

Jim started his career in 1965 when he was hired as an appren tice in the silversmithing program at Colonial Williamsburg headed by Bill deMatteo. Jim worked as an apprentice until he became a journeyman in 1974. During those years he learned the skills to make his journeyman piece, a silver Wickes bowl, which was presented to the President of Colombia.

During the 1970s Jim worked as a journeyman craftsman producing a prolific output of silver pieces, mostly reproductions of colonial and English silver. He managed the James Geddy House and and shop at Colonial Williamsburg.

In 1980, after deMatteo retired, Jim attained the title of Master and during the following decades Jim dedicated himself to furthering his crafstmanship and extending his personal connection to customers. During this period Jim and his staff re-explored the ancient technique of raising from a cast billet in order to achieve eighteenth-century authenticity.

Jim is quick to credit God with giving him his skills and good fortune in life and so he is particularly proud of his church silver including two chalices he made for churches from donated silver from their congregations.

Jim is justifiably proud of his family; his wife Catherine and two successful daughters. He continues to work in his retirement from his home shop for his loyal following of customers.

Curtis was chosen from a wide field of eligible silversmiths residing in the United States. This year's selection committee was comprised of Jeffrey Herman, Executive Director of SAS, and Thomas Sandretto, Supporting Member of SAS and originator of the Christensen Award.

James A. Curtis


1987: Traveled to Japan to represent the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in an American Fair.
1980: Promoted to Master Silversmith for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
1974: Promoted to Journeyman at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
Studied basic design and sculpting at the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA.
Served ten years as an Apprentice under Master Silversmith, William de Matteo at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
Facilitated workshops at James Madison University and the University of Delaware.
Lectured at antique forums for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
Over his 40 years at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Jim acted as an interpreter explaining the art of silversmithing to thousands of the Foundation's guests. He has created silver  for numerous of dignitaries including President Ronald Reagan, Prince Charles, the President of Columbia and the President of Sir Lanka. 

Professional Organizations

Juried Artisan, Society of American Silversmiths

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