Philip Syng Sr?

PHOTOS REQUIRED - marks + item
legrandmogol
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Philip Syng Sr?

Postby legrandmogol » Thu May 03, 2018 4:21 pm

The piece is dated but I think the date was added later. The bowl is elliptical, not egg-shaped. Anyone good with early American tablespoons who could roughly date this piece and confirm the maker?

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Re: Philip Syng Sr?

Postby Aguest » Thu May 03, 2018 8:42 pm

Phillip Syng Sr. died in 1729, and the hallmark certainly does seem to be Phillip Syng Sr, The bottom of the heart is more "rounded" for Phillip Syng Sr. and it seems like the bottom of your heart hallmark is more "rounded."

Are you not trusting the date of 1718 because you would expect to see a full rat-tail instead of the half-rat-tail that you have on this spoon?
Do you see any evidence of repairs which might indicate the removal of an original full rat-tail bowl and this spoon now has a later mid-1700-ish bowl?

When I found a collection of Colonial Coin Silver Spoons, I did notice (as did other people with better eyesight) that many of them bore old repairs, many of which were extremely small, so a 10X jeweler's loupe would come in handy in this case.

legrandmogol
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Re: Philip Syng Sr?

Postby legrandmogol » Thu May 03, 2018 9:00 pm

The date doesn't seem like it was engraved by the same person who engraved the monogram which is one reason I question it but also yes, the style seems too modern for 1718, especially for an American made spoon. I was unaware that people used to have rattails removed from old spoons (learn something new every day). I don't think I see any evidence of repair except the double drop (I think that's what its called) is kinda crude.

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Re: Philip Syng Sr?

Postby Aguest » Thu May 03, 2018 9:59 pm

If not a full repair, then perhaps a partial repair on the rat-tail part, someone more knowledgable than myself detected a repair in these salt spoons:

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There were others as well, but I did not take pics as they were sold to a private collector the same day I bought them, only the spoons with hallmarks I was unsure of made it here to get an opinion as to the makers' marks___

In the Early Colonial American Silversmiths book I have, it lists a "heart-shaped" hallmark by both Phillip Syng Sr. AND Phillip Syng Jr. ___

The "heart-shaped" hallmark by Phillip Syng Jr seems to have a more "pointed" base, so I think your "more rounded" heart-base is more consistent with Phillip Syng Sr., in my opinion at least, but I am looking for more examples by both father and son Syng in order to help figure it all out ___

It's a great find, of this we can be absolutely certain!

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Re: Philip Syng Sr?

Postby Aguest » Thu May 03, 2018 10:03 pm

By the way, the book lists 4 distinct hallmarks by Phillip Syng Jr., and only one bears a resemblance to the "rounded-base-heart" of his father Phillip Syng Sr., and I have not yet seen a piece of Phillip Syng Jr. with this particular "pointed-base-heart" hallmark on it ___

The majority of examples of Phillip Syng Jr. seem to have the square cartouche with "PS" in it, and maybe a "PS" with a dot in-between the letters ___

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Re: Philip Syng Sr?

Postby Aguest » Thu May 03, 2018 10:09 pm

Also, check that the ends of the handle is completely original because in the later part of the 1700s, there were "spoon turners" who would make an older handle style into a differently-shaped handle style in order to keep up with the flatware fashions of the day (I have not heard of this happening in America, but it definitely happened in England, and I have a spoon which bears evidence of this, so I know what to look for now) ___

Now that I look at the engravings, I think the "AB" was added later than the "1718" date, or at the very least these engravings were done by two separate people at two separate times, there is something curious about the distinctive styles of the "AB" engraving vs. the "1718" engraving ___

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Re: Philip Syng Sr?

Postby Aguest » Thu May 03, 2018 10:18 pm

OK, I have conflicting information about the death of Phillip Syng Sr. Does anyone know if the following is correct:

Philip Syng
Philadelphia, PA 1714-1723;
Cape May, NJ 1724-1728; and
Annapolis, MD 1730-1739


If Phillip Syng was actually working in Annapolis Maryland from 1730 to 1739, then I think it would be possible to have a half-rat-tail bowl rather than the full-rat-tail bowl ___ I think this style of spoon would have been very late in his career (if the spoon can be verified as all-original) ___

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Re: Philip Syng Sr?

Postby Aguest » Thu May 03, 2018 10:32 pm

This is my last post, I promise....

There is a similar discussion about SYNG Senior vs. Junior in an archived silver forum, and it seems that a conclusion was reached, the conclusion being that early in his career, SYNG JUNIOR used the same heart-shaped hallmark as SYNG SENIOR, and so there might not be "rounded" vs. "pointed" bases to the heart-shaped hallmarks, they might just be the same hallmark (and the two slightly different hallmarks as illustrated in Robert Alan Green's book "MARKS OF AMERICAN SILVERSMITHS REVISED" are actually two slightly different depictions of the exact same hallmark)...

(Wikipedia lists SYNG SENIOR as deceased in 1729, so that needs to be corrected if we can confirm his Maryland career from 1730-1739...)

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Re: Philip Syng Sr?

Postby legrandmogol » Fri May 04, 2018 8:45 am

According to Catherine Hollan in her excellent book on Philadelphia Silversmiths, he died in Maryland in 1739. She doesn't make any mention of Cape May but other sources and a website dedicated the Philip Syng Sr. Great grandson mention that he did move to Cape May in 1724 where he met his second wife. Perhaps he wasn't actually working as a silversmith in Cape May. As a resident of Cape May Co., I can't imagine Cape May having enough of a population at the time to support one. The thing you mentioned that intrigues me the most is Spoon Turners. I have never heard of this. Do you know where I can read more about this?
Also, I'm not sure if you are familiar with Catherine Hollan's books but they are all excellent and extremely useful. Very well researched

legrandmogol
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Re: Philip Syng Sr?

Postby legrandmogol » Fri May 04, 2018 8:53 am

by the way, I corrected Wikipedia to accurately reflect Syng Sr.'s year of death

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Re: Philip Syng Sr?

Postby Aguest » Fri May 04, 2018 3:38 pm

Many rat-tail spoons had three-lobed or trefid or dog-nose handles, and as time went on people wanted the more uniformly rounded (more "Hanoverian") style of spoon handle, so a spoon turner could convert these older styles into the newer style. This is very difficult to detect, even in pictures, but if you have the spoon in person you should check the edges of the tip of the handle for any irregularities. If the end of the spoon handle has been converted from a 3-lobed form into the more rounded form, you should see two tiny creases in the side of the tip of the handle, at the 3-o'clock and 9-o'clock positions. This might also explain why some rat-tail Britannia silver spoons (1703-1717 approximately from England) have the "queen-on-a-throne" Britannia silver hallmark erased, because the spoon turners didn't want to break the law because they knew that all spoons should have the head of King George on them, so the spoon turners erased the old Britannia standard mark, just to be on the safe side.

The one particular Britannia silver spoon that I have displays all these characteristics, as well as the "double monograms" - one from when the spoon was made in 1713, and another which was added circa 1790 when the spoon was "turned" into the newer style. The second monogram is very distinctively 1790s, the kind of monogram with cursive lettering and little tiny dashes around the cursive letters, and I have seen this style of monogram on many Georgian spoons from 1775-1800.

I don't believe I have ever seen an American Colonial Coin Silver Spoon which has been turned, but you should check the end of the handle of this spoon anyway, it could be a possibility because that "1718" monogram looks very authentic to my eyes, and that detail really stands out to me, I am just having a difficult time with that one detail. That "1718" monogram makes me want to attribute the spoon to SYNG SENIOR but the double-drop bowl and the rounded tip of the handle makes me want to attribute the spoon to SYNG JUNIOR.

legrandmogol
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Re: Philip Syng Sr?

Postby legrandmogol » Fri May 04, 2018 4:14 pm

Thank you for that update and additional information. To me, that is extremely interesting. I wonder how many old spoons were turned? As for the true date of my spoon, I'll probably never know. I took it on Antiques Roadshow last year (I was the only person in line at the silver table sadly) and the only silver expert on duty did not seem interested in it but he didn't offer much information. According to his profile, he is mostly a porcelain expert though so what do you expect. Also I snuck it in as you are only allowed two items and this made a third.

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Re: Philip Syng Sr?

Postby Aguest » Fri May 04, 2018 10:23 pm

Perhaps a collector of Phillip Syng could chime in with an opinion, or perhaps show pics of Phillip Syng spoons, I have read a report of a spoon similar to yours with a similar question being asked, but no pics were provided which might allow us to compare the two examples.


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