Montgomery Antiques & Interiors is excited to announce a fabulous way to welcome Fall 2021. We’re hosting an event that will help you get ready for all your autumn get-togethers, holiday entertaining, and gift-giving. Please join us for MAI’s two-day Silver Clinic on September 30 & October 1. Our very special guests are two of the most respected and talented people in the Silver World… Dan and Beth Walker of Oexning Silversmiths and Gryphon Estates Silver.
A SILVER RESTORATION CLINIC IS….?
A silver clinic is your opportunity to meet with a professional silversmith for a consultation. It’s the first step in starting the process of restoring a silver item that needs a little (or a lot) of TLC to get it back to it’s original lovely, useful self. Or even better! A variety of services… everything from polishing up your flatware for the holidays to repairing dents, dings, and worse… is available. Replating with silver or gold? No problem. Dreaded garbage disposal destruction? Even that isn’t always impossible to undo. There’s no fee for a consultation or obligation to schedule a repair, so it never hurts to sit down for a little show-and-tell and hear what a pro has to offer. MAI is honored to be able to host this event to provide a much needed service from two of the most respected, knowledgeable, and talented experts anywhere.
This kind of personalized restoration service from a master craftsman has not been available in our area for quite a while. So, we are indeed fortunate to have a true professional “in the house” to help those of you who love to collect and to use silver. Simply bring your less-than-perfect pieces so Dan can have a look and let you know what it will take to get everything back to beautiful.
Need help with pattern matching? Or looking for something really unique for a gift? Our silver clinic is an event for you as well. Beth is busy curating a collection of unique, meticulously restored estate pieces to show and sell.
THE SILVER PRO DUO
All of us at MAI have been friends with The Walkers for quite a while. You may remember this dynamic Silver Pro Duo from The Camellia Antique Show in Montgomery in early spring 2020. Their vendor space was one of the most popular shopping spots of the show… such an awesome array of sterling and sillverplated lovelies! Beth helped shoppers with their selections from her vast inventory of pristine estate and antique silver. Everything from tiny silver tongs to large elaborate serving pieces and entire flatware sets was available. And, Dan met with Montgomery’s silver lovers to consult about restoring their damaged items. We thought Montgomery would enjoy an encore, so we invited them to MAI.
If you weren’t there to meet the Silver Pro Duo let us give you a brief introduction:
Beth often refers to Dan on social media as “Mr. Silversmith.” And he is indeed considered to be one of the foremost silversmiths in the entire United States. To find out how Dan got started here are some snippets* from Oexning’s website.
In the beginning:
“The story of Oexning Silversmiths, Inc. starts with a young, Norwegian immigrant named Lars Oexning. Lars began his career as a silversmith’s apprentice in Norway before World War II. After the war, when Lars was in his early twenties, he moved to the United States where he worked for well known silversmiths such as Josten’s and the Tiffany Co. before moving to Minneapolis, Minnesota to start his own shop.”
“Dan Walker joined the company in the mid 1980’s after answering an ad for a silversmith’s apprentice. He stayed on after learning the trade from master silversmiths Dave Shutt and part-owner and Lars’s nephew, Carl Bloomquist. Dan continues to hone his craft by training with such people as Master Silversmith Brian Clarke in Ireland. As such, there are very few items that Dan is not capable of repairing or restoring.”
Spoiler Alert! Guess who ends up owning Oexning with a very special lady. More on that in a sec. First, let’s introduce Beth so their story can continue.
THE SILVER SOURCE-ERESS
Beth is quite the expert herself! If you flip through the pages of magazines like Victoria, Southern Lady, Veranda, and the like you’ll often see photoshoots featuring fine examples of antique and vintage silver pieces sourced from Gryphon Estate Silver, Beth’s side of the biz.
Southern Living had this to say about Gryphon’s gorgeous inventory:
” You’d be hard-pressed to find a more impressive collection of estate silver than this one.”
We agree! Beth is one of the foremost experts when it comes to knowing all about antique sterling and silverplated pieces that once graced dinner tables in days gone by. If you don’t know which fork is for what, just ask Beth. Need a rare Victorian serving piece? Ask Beth. Can’t identify Grandmother’s flatware pattern? Once again… Beth will know.
Beth’s motto is “Use Your Silver” and she has lots good everyday ideas for how to do just that with the silver you own. Follow her on Instagram and you’ll see.
Beth’s story begins in her is hometown of Charleston SC. As Gryphon’s website tells it “her love of antiques began at an early age (being dragged kicking and screaming) during frequent visits to antique auctions, flea markets and shops in the United States and Europe with her parents.” (MAI wants to give a special thank-you to your folks, Beth.)
So how did Beth get into the silver biz?
Eventually, grown-up Beth moved to Minneapolis of all places. And (you guessed it) Beth met Dan there. Here’s what happened:
Beth “met Dan after moving to Minneapolis to take a job in international sales. Although Beth had no previous expertise in antique silver, she started coming to the shop on the weekends and was fascinated by the incredible restoration work being done by the skilled craftsmen.”
THE REST OF THEIR STORY
Apparently there was a lot of fascination of a personal nature as well because eventually Dan & Beth became Mr. & Mrs. Walker. Then, in 1993 they actually bought Oexning Silversmiths, Inc. to carry on the company’s wonderful work. Gryphon Estate Silver was started by The Walkers in the mid-1990s as an offshoot of Oexning Silversmiths, Inc. The pairing of Oexning SIlversmith’s and Gryphon Estate Silver was a brilliant business idea….one company specializing in expert restoration and its sister company in selling fine examples of the beautifully crafted result. What could be better? Hmmm, location? Yep!
“In 1998, the couple decided to move the business to a warmer climate and closer to Beth’s hometown. They ended up in the tiny mountain community of Bakersville, NC, about an hour northeast of Asheville. From this location they continue to offer skilled repairs and refinishing on copper, pewter, brass and antique sterling, as well as replating gold and silver.”
Just take a look at a few Before-and-Afters to see what’s possible.
An heirloom pickle castor is saved! And look at this…
A miraculous make-over for this biscuit barrel! And…
Perfect patina that’s ready to pour!
Take a look other examples of Dan’s work (especially the drastic damage repair jobs) on the Oexning/Gryphon sites and social media. You’ll be thoroughly convinced that there’s nothing Mr. Silversmith can’t bring back to life.
Dan, Beth, and their talented staff are committed to providing their clientele with professional, personalized service and with a stunning and unique line of silver for special occasions and every day. We know you’ll enjoy working with Dan and Beth to get your silver pieces back into beautiful usable condition. So, gather your heirlooms and mark your calendar. MAI’s Silver Clinic is a two-day event during regular store hours on Thursday, September 30 & Friday, October 1, 2021.
Can’t make it during those days? No worries! Check your items in with the staff at MAI for secure storage a day or so before the clinic. You’ll be contacted with repair estimates. Got questions? Just give MAI a call at (334)277-2490.
BUT WAIT! THAT”S NOT ALL!
There’s more good news! MAI is so excited to welcome Gryphon Estate Silver as our newest dealer.
That’s right! This is the beginning of something worth celebrating… the best silver selection ever at MAI. It has been several years since the Montgomery area has had a knowledgeable source dedicated entirely to fine antique and estate silver. Finally, we’ve found just the right person to join our team of dealers and fill the need in the community. Beth is currently curating a fabulous array of sterling and silverplated pieces to bring with her for the event. She’ll be filling one of the large showcases in our store. If you follow Beth on Gryphon’s Instagram account you’re already aware that she’d love to hear from all Montgomery area Silver Lovers with suggestions of the type of pieces you’d love to be able to buy here. We hope you’ll feel free let her know about your special requests.
Remember to save the dates. You don’t want to miss it… your heirloom may be the next star of the Before-and Afters!
Montgomery Antiques & Interiors
*All quotes are used with permission from Oexning Siilversmiths, Inc. and Gryphon Estate Silver websites.
Additional photo credits – Gryphon Estate SIlver, Oexning Silversmiths, Inc., Pinterest