Goldsmith finally given his due by city, county
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 12, 2003
It’s been 18 years, but Andrew Gill has finally received his due.
Mayor James Perkins and the Dallas County Commission have declared March 8, 2003 Andrew Gill Day.
Gill’s death on Jan. 5, 1985, was the end of an era for the city of Selma. Gill was the first and only African-American master goldsmith and jeweler in the state of Alabama.
During a memorial tribute to the master goldsmith held last Saturday, Gill’s widow, Mattie, was handed a key to the city of Selma and Dallas County in honor of her husband.
A bust of Gill, created by his son Bill, will be donated to the Civil Rights and Slavery Museum in Selma.
In addition, a display that showcases Gill’s life and work should be in place at the museum in the upcoming weeks.
Gill’s career began after he was discharged from the United States Navy in 1946, having served during World War II.
After returning home, Gill was walking through the streets of downtown Selma looking for a job when he passed a jewelry store preparing to open. He applied, and was soon the store’s maintenance man. Gradually, Gill found himself repairing watches, eyeglasses and more.
But when he became disillusioned with the extra work without
additional pay, he quit.
By this time, though, word had already gotten around about Gill’s talents, and it didn’t take long for Roger Butler, owner of Butler Traux Jewelers, to hire him as a machine engraver.
Gill began working just part-time for Butler, but a stoke of luck managed to change all that.
For the next 25 years, Gill continued to work for Butler, making repairs and creating one-of-a-kind, handcrafted jewelry. He retired from work just three years before his death.