Woodson Research Center, Rice University

Guide to the George Cohen family silver collection, circa 1920s MS 671

source Cohen, George S.
source Cohen, Esther
Title: George Cohen family silver collection
Dates: 1920s
Identification: MS 671
Quantity: 11.5 Linear Feet12 boxes
Language: English
Repository: Woodson Research Center, Rice University, Houston, Texas

Biographical / Historical

Described as being "imaginative and with a feel for adventure," George Soloman Cohen was known for his generosity to the city of Houston and Rice University. He and his father bought Foley Bros. Department store from the Foley brothers in 1917 and developed it into one of the state's leading retailers. He served in various capacities for the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Symphony Society, Houston Community Chest, Young Men's Business League of Houston, and was instrumental in developing the first airline connections for the city as well as bringing the first passenger liner to Houston from Europe in 1925. He also served on the city's Generasl Arrangements Committee for the Democratic National Convention held in Houston in 1928. Cohen was born in Galveston in 1885 and started at age 10 working at his father's store while either shipping out during summers on steamers sailing between Galveston and New York or on fishing boats off the west coast of the Yucatan Penisula of Mexico. He attended Ball High School in Galveston and Peeksill Military Academy in New York, but left to attend classes on advertising, window dressing, bookkeeping and accounting while working for many department stores before returning to Galveston in 1904. He married the former Esther Regina Meyer of Galvestion in 1921, and together made unrestricted gifts to Rice directed toward loans and scholarships, for an elevator for the football stadium. His largest gift was the faculty club building in 1927, with a maintenance and remodeling fund and addition of a new wing in 1959. Cohen died in 1971.

Scope and Contents

This collection includes the pieces of a sterling silver dinner service, Kensington pattern by International Silver Co., including accompanying porcelain cups and bowls used by George and Esther Meyer Cohen and family starting in the 1920s. Following his death in 1971 and Esther's in 1978, the service was auctioned and purchased by the donors.


Conditions Governing Access

This material is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish from this material must be facilitated through the Woodson Research Center.

Index Terms

Sterling silver
Cohen, George S.
Cohen, Esther

Related Materials

See also George Cohen Business and Personal Papers, 1924-1961, as well as Cohen House (faculty club) records.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

George Cohen family silver collection, MS 671, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The sterling silver dinner service was gifted by Thomas F. and Madge West Jones '46 on May 6, 2015.


Kensington sterling silver dinner service by International Silver Co. was appraised in April 2015 by Rachel Pabst of Rachel Pabst Appraisal Associates, Houston, TX.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series I: Silver pieces

1 12 monogrammed (GSC) white wines or sherry
2 pairs of salt & pepper
2 12 monogrammed (GSC) bread & butter plates
1 monogrammed (GSC) chalice
1 monogrammed (GSC) sauce boat with 1 underplate
3 12 Lennox china cream soups with monogrammed (GSC) holders
4 12 monogrammed (GSC) service plates
5 12 monogrammed (GSC) red wines
12 monogrammed (GSC) cordials
6 12 monogrammed (GSC) ice teas
7 12 Lennox china ramekins with monogrammed (GSC) holders
8 12 monogrammed (GSC) waters
9 1 monogrammed (GSC) water pitcher
12 Lennox china demi tasse cups with monogrammed (GSC) holders (1 extra)
12 monogrammed (GSC) butter pats or underplates for demi tasse cups
10 2 monogrammed (GSC) compotes
1 monogrammed (GSC) tray
11 1 monogrammed (GSC) bowl
12 2 monogrammed (GSC) trays