Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Four Elements

Peter Bentzon

by Synatra Smith, Ph.D. on 2021-07-29T12:00:00-04:00 in Black Artists | Comments

Nineteenth-century silversmith Peter Bentzon was born circa 1783 on the Caribbean island of St. Thomas. Within that Danish colony, he was categorized as a “mustice” or “mustee”—the son of a free, mixed-race mother and a white father. Sent to Philadelphia at the age of eight for his education, Bentzon began a silversmithing apprenticeship at age sixteen in 1799. He completed his apprenticeship in 1806 and then relocated to St. Croix to start his own silversmith business.[1] Denmark reclaimed the island from the British in 1816, and because the Danish more strictly regulated the rights of free people of color, Bentzon moved his family and business back to Philadelphia. He remained there until 1829, when he returned to St. Croix for twenty years, and then moved back to Philadelphia in 1848. He is the only free person with African ancestry from the antebellum period in the United States whose works can be identified through his own hallmarks “P. BENTZON” or “PB” on his work. Fewer than thirty-six of his pieces survive, most of which are teaspoons. [2]


PMA Collection



[1] Ale Bremer Jewelry n.d.; Garvan and Barquist 2018; Seattle Art Museum n.d.; The History Blog n.d.

[2] Garvan and Barquist 2018; The History Blog n.d.



Ale Bremer Jewelry. “BIPOC Jewelers.” June 8, 2020. Accessed April 21, 2021.


Garvan, Beatrice B., and David L. Barquist. 2018. American Silver in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art.


Seattle Art Museum. “Peter Bentzon.” Accessed April 21, 2021.

The History Blog. "Teapot Is Smithsonian's Millionth Digitized Object." June 27, 2016. Accessed April 21, 2021.

 Add a Comment



Enter your e-mail address to receive notifications of new posts by e-mail.



Black Artists

  Follow Us

  Return to Blog
This post is closed for further discussion.