Before Kentucky's celebrated julep cup, there was Asa's beaker -- a small silver cup shaped like the charred-oak barrels used to age the distilled mixture of limestone-rich water, Kentucky corn and wheat into the finest bourbon. Asa's silver barrel beakers were unusual and difficult to make. When the traditional julep cup emerged, Asa Blanchard made those, too. With their smoothly tapered sides and simple base and top, they would have been far easier to produce in a timely fashion.
Asa's barrel beakers were not widely copied, most likely because they require extremely sophisticated skills to reproduce. We are proud to say that after 200 years we have re-mastered the fine art of producing the barrel beaker using only the finest Lead-free Pewter and Sterling Silver. Our line of products celebrate the deeply embedded culture of central Kentucky's Bluegrass region and are proudly made the old-fashioned way (by hand) in the United States of America.
Asa Blanchard designed and produced the coin silver barrel beaker in his Lexington, Kentucky shop 200 years ago. It was an instant classic, shaped like the barrels in which Kentucky’s favorite distilled spirit was aged. Bourbon – the amber elixir originated and perfected in Kentucky – is now celebrated around the world.
Known as the Paul Revere of the South, Asa Blanchard is one of the most, if not the most, highly collected of early American silversmiths. He came to Lexington, Kentucky in 1806, at a time when Kentucky was exploding with growth and transitioning from a small outpost on the edge of the wilderness to the bustling economic and cultural center known as the “Athens of the West.”
The early settlers were anxious to improve their social status to keep pace as their fortunes grew. As they prospered and built finer homes they wanted fine silver with which to entertain and impress prospective business partners and potential suitors for their eligible daughters. In 1807, Asa Blanchard placed an advertisement in the Kentucky Gazette announcing that he was establishing his business in the heart of downtown Lexington making “Silver Teapots, Sugar and Cream Pots, Tankards, Cans and Tumblers …”
His fist-sized coin silver barrel beakers and julep cups were the perfect compliment to the bourbon that flowed freely as the early Bluegrass pioneers established a culture built on hospitality and horses. Early settlers would have filled their saddlebags with silver dollars and ridden into downtown Lexington on horseback to have Asa Blanchard melt down the coins to create fine silver barrel beakers, julep cups and tea services.
Blanchard’s designs are known for their clean, elegant lines. His creations, and those of his apprentices, are timeless hence his popularity with today’s serious silver collectors.
Photo Credits & Sources: www.asablanchard.com