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Photos courtesy of “Mermaids and Saguaros, the USS Arizona Silver"
The USS Arizona Silver Service
Shortly after the launching of the USS Arizona Mr. L. W. Mix, mayor of Nogales, Arizona, began to look into ways of financing a silver service for the USS Arizona. It was Mr. Mix who was instrumental in getting the newest navy ship named after the forty-eighth state.
The Board of Trade of the state of Arizona named a committee in 1916 that was in charge of purchasing the silver service. The contract for the silver service was with Reed & Barton of Taunton, Massachusetts. The cost of the USS Arizona silver service approximately $9000. The citizens and businesses of the state of Arizona donated money for the purchasing of the service. Reed & Barton began producing the service so that pieces could be put on display in some Arizona cities. The displays allowed the people of Arizona to see what their donations had purchased and the only chance to see the silver service before it was delivered to the USS Arizona.
The finished service contains a total of eighty-seven pieces. All pieces are sterling silver except for the punch set which is copperplate over sterling silver. Because copper was the source of Arizona wealth, copper was the inspiration for the punch set. The USS Arizona silver service was the most elegant created by Reed & Barton and fine examples of the silversmith’s art. The USS Arizona silver service was the most elegant and unique looking among the United States battleships formal silver.
After the attack on the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941, it was feared that the silver service was lost with the ship. Officials fearing war in the Pacific had the sliver service removed from the ship and place in storage in Bremerton, Washington. During the war the silver service was moved to the naval supply depot at Norfolk, Virginia. Navy officials believed “This set was and still is one of the finest in service in the Navy”, and was first put back in service on board the USS Tucson and then on the Adirondack. The USS Arizona silver service might have returned to storage had it not been for the efforts of Arizona’s tenth state governor, Howard Pyle. The special agreement allowed the silver service to be on exhibit at the state fair each year from 1953 to 1955. The US Navy intended to put the service back on board another ship in the future. In 1976, Mrs. Raul H. Castro, then the first lady of Arizona, accomplished the goal of having the silver service transferred to the Arizona State Capitol.
Today the entire silver service resides in the Arizona State Capitol Museum. Thousands of visitors view the service annually.
You can order a copy of “Mermaids and Saguaros. The USS Arizona Silver” by contacting the Arizona State Capitol Museum Store at (602)542-4342. This 39 page booklet covers the history of the silver service and is filled with lots of photos.
Special thanks to the Arizona State Capitol Museum for the use of the silver service photos and historical information.
Photo courtesy of “Mermaids and Saguaros, the USS Arizona Silver”
All photos Copyright 1994, to the Arizona State Capitol Museum
and any use is forbidden without the permission of the
Arizona State Capitol Museum.
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