Home |   Oklahoma History Center |   Exhibits |  Silver selections from the USS Oklahoma

Silver selections from the USS Oklahoma

On exhibit December 7, 2021, through January 31, 2022
The Oklahoma History Center is pleased to announce the opening of a special exhibit to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor featuring the silver service from the USS Oklahoma. The exhibit opened December 7, 2021. It is on view in the third-floor atrium and during regular museum hours.

The tradition of creating presentation silver sets for United States warships of the “first rank” began with the USS Maine in the late 1890s. Continuing this tradition, the Oklahoma Legislature appropriated $7,500 in 1913 for the creation of a silver service to express the state’s pride in having a new battleship named for it. It was designed by Walter Dean of Oklahoma City and executed by Gorham Silversmiths of New York. The USS Oklahoma was christened on March 23, 1914, and the service was presented to the ship at that time. The service was used on the battleship from 1914 until 1941, but was removed prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and stored at the Puget Sound Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington. Following World War II, in 1946 the Oklahoma Historical Society appointed a committee to find the silver service and return it to the state. In 1947 the US Navy loaned the silver service to the Oklahoma Historical Society and, after thorough polishing and repair, it went on public display. Since then, particular articles of the set have been used in various state ceremonies, including inaugurations and supreme court appointments.

The complete set consists of 55 pieces, with each piece carrying the state seal and various other designs including the likenesses of Sequoyah, inventor of the Cherokee syllabary, and Captain David L. Payne, leader of the Boomer Movement. Not all of the silver service will be on exhibit; only selected pieces will be available for public view.