Enamelled coffee spoon set: mysterious connection between Mappin & Webb and Turner & Simpson?

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Jolbordi
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Joined: Thu Sep 08, 2016 3:22 pm

Enamelled coffee spoon set: mysterious connection between Mappin & Webb and Turner & Simpson?

Postby Jolbordi » Thu Sep 08, 2016 4:40 pm

Hi to you all fellow forum participants.

Hopefully my thread does not break any forum policies which I looked through. Please forgive me if I did as being a non-English speaking person (I am Russian) it is sometimes hard to understand this beautiful language.

There are couple of questions I would like to ask about a sterling silver coffee spoon set I bought a year ago or so. It was hallmarked in Birmingham hence I have chosen this forum section. These spoons beautiful enamel work on their bowls (let’s just forget about Faberge for a while). Please take into account all enamel is identical just as the spoons but there is one big mystery and another one just a bit smaller.

So what is that mystery if mystery at all. The spoons were advertised as renowned Mappin & Webb and they came with an original box.

The big mystery is that one of the spoons shows a completely different manufacturer. It is not Mappin & Webb as I would expect but Turner & Simpson. The date code is the same (a "J" date code standing for 1933) as on M&W spoons.

Let me remind (forgive me for saying this but it is what I actually told myself when found this out) that all the spoons are identical: I compared shapes of their bowls, transitions and handles and even tried to point differences in enamel decoration but there were none. I am 100% positive the bowl is original to handle as a) enamel work confirms that & b) no signs of reattachment can be seen.

So I thought these companies may have been in partnership but I was not able to find any confirmation of that. Then I tried to find some pieces made by T&S just to see what this manufacturer could offer to a consumer. I was quite surprised to see the company made enamelled ware to include powder compacts, cigarette cases etc. & spoons were among them.

But this is not the most interesting part of the story. I managed to find an identical set (just like mine) of coffee spoons entirely made by T&S which was sold at DuMouchelles back in 2014 (September, 13). One can think that DuMouchelles’ set is the one I have but thankfully that one has an “M” date code for 1936 which means it is a different one. I can imagine somewhere out there could be more of set like mine this being just one of some.

This fact can partially answer the question how come 1 spoon from my set appears to be made by T&S and not by M&W. The M&W one was lost and later an identical T&S saved the set of six.

That is a good story but still is it really possible that T&S could legally make exactly the same items as M&W? (I am not talking about some resemblance as the pieces are just identical). I just can not imagine T&S could simply copy M&W and the latter felt positive about that. So again it leads to a question whether such an important company as M&W could put another manufacturer to do some certain pieces marked as M&W (nowadays commissions like this happen here and there). I really am curious about the situation and I think I feel it is not an ordinary replacement, it is more than that.

I plea if someone knows the answer or would like to make an assumption of his own.

You may have forgotten but there is a smaller mystery. I am certain it is no big deal but I saw that not all handles (not the bowls!) have sterling silver & date hallmarks (two spoons lack these hallmarks). Is there an answer how could this happen? I can only guess it was not obligatory to place hallmarks there so manufacturers were free to decide whether to duplicate sterling silver and date codes or rather not.

I enclose all photos and I do hope their quality is enough to come further. Forgive me for bad macros but I tried as hard as I could.

Thanks in advance for your valued attention & I hope we can come to conclusion.

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agphile
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Location: UK

Re: Enamelled coffee spoon set: mysterious connection between Mappin & Webb and Turner & Simpson?

Postby agphile » Thu Sep 08, 2016 7:01 pm

In Britain the so-called maker's mark is actually the sponsor's mark. The sponsor can be the maker or, for example, a retailer who has commissioned items from the maker. The most likely explanation seems to me to be that Mappin and Webb commissioned teaspoons from Turner and Simpson, requiring them carry the Mappin and Webb mark. One spoon with the Turner and Simpson mark got included in this particular set by mistake (or was possibly a replacement for a lost or damaged spoon).

Jolbordi
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Sep 08, 2016 3:22 pm

Re: Enamelled coffee spoon set: mysterious connection between Mappin & Webb and Turner & Simpson?

Postby Jolbordi » Fri Sep 09, 2016 5:54 am

agphile wrote:In Britain the so-called maker's mark is actually the sponsor's mark. The sponsor can be the maker or, for example, a retailer who has commissioned items from the maker. The most likely explanation seems to me to be that Mappin and Webb commissioned teaspoons from Turner and Simpson, requiring them carry the Mappin and Webb mark. One spoon with the Turner and Simpson mark got included in this particular set by mistake (or was possibly a replacement for a lost or damaged spoon).


Many thanks for your answer. I had that in mind and believe this to be a perfect explanation so it is indeed more than a mere replacement as we can see connection between these companies.

So here we have a Mappin & Webb (a sponsor) set which most likely was made by Turner & Simpson (a maker). But I would like to go a bit deeper and wonder who originally made this design: was it Mappin & Webb which said "Hey you guys of T&S here you go an example of a spoon, make a set of 6 for us please" or was it said by M&W "Hey you guys of T&S we need a set of 6 coffee spoons, make us an offer". I naturally guess the answer about some particular design may be buried in companies' archives (invoices which could have have this sort of information or probably contracts with details) so my question may find no answer. But in general can you advise what was the trend regarding such commissions: who supplied design?

And I still am curious why not all spoons have hallmarks on handles (I placed two spoons opposite of each other to show the one with hallmarks and the second bearing none).

Thank you in advance

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AG2012
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Re: Enamelled coffee spoon set: mysterious connection between Mappin & Webb and Turner & Simpson?

Postby AG2012 » Fri Sep 09, 2016 7:44 am

Hi,
It seems "M&W" "T&S" combined spoons are not uncommon, curiously always 5+1. One set was sold together with a note from the original purchaser, who ``saw them while window-shopping and gave them as a gift to a friend of hers``. The spoons are hallmarked Birmingham 1933. The spoons are all identical, but they have two maker's marks 5 say "M&W", 1 says "T&S". Or the seller produced the letter to support originality of the set with different sponsor`s marks. Besides, there are no data what the shop was; it was much easier at the time to find one missing spoon and add it to the set. I doubt so many mistakes were made at the factory, i.e. packaging spoons with different sponsor`s marks without taking care of marks.
They are all marked prior to enameling (for obvious reasons).
As suggested by agphile, they were most likely commissioned by "M&W” and manufactured by "T&S" (also renowned enamellers). "M&W” London shop was far more famous.
Suppositions only, though, with some logic involved.
Regards
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Jolbordi
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Sep 08, 2016 3:22 pm

Re: Enamelled coffee spoon set: mysterious connection between Mappin & Webb and Turner & Simpson?

Postby Jolbordi » Fri Sep 09, 2016 8:27 am

AG2012 wrote:It seems "M&W" "T&S" combined spoons are not uncommon, curiously always 5+1.
As suggested by agphile, they were most likely commissioned by "M&W” and manufactured by "T&S" (also renowned enamellers). "M&W” London shop was far more famous.
Suppositions only, though, with some logic involved.
Regards


Hi, thank you so much for sharing another "5 M&W +1 T&S" coffee spoon set. Having seen the second (and taking into account there are others somewhere) we can say for sure that companies certainly had connection and that connection was more likely sponsor(M&W) - maker (T&S). We can assume it this way as spoons in those sets are identical and they were made in different years. It would be impossible for T&S to make illegal copies of M&W items for even a year, M&W would have seen that and sued a counterfeit producer. So their connection is legel.

The reason for such relation we do not know exactly but it will not be a mistake to say it was cheaper for M&W to commission spoons from T&S rather than make at own premises.

We now also know that T&S made spoons like those commissioned by M&W with its own T&S hallmark as well. Still it is a fascinating thing you managed to find another set with the sixth spoon replaced. I agree it is not likely those sixth spoons found themselves in boxes by mistake of a factory worker. But who knows maybe it was T&S right to put one spoon of its own into a set commissioned by other company just to denote / to give a clue they exist. Of course it is fine to say the sixth spoon was added later by owner and since single T&S spoon was easier / cheaper to buy. What is crucial to mention is that people who tried to find replacement somehow ended up with T&S and not M&W. Does this really mean there were more T&S items available or they chose T&S for another reason such as this: why should I pay 20% more for M&W hallmark when the same T&S spoon is cheaper?

We have some links of the chain but we know almost nothing about specific relation between M&W and T&S. Qustions are really though and I can imagine they are hard to be answered even by M&W collectors but still: 1) does someone know about policy in this relation which gave T&S right to put one spoon in a M&W boxed set (let's imagine for a second the sixth spoon was placed into a box by a factory worker because he had to do that); 2) what were conditions / restrictions for T&S regarding manufacture of items commissioned by M&W; 3) who supplied design?

Thank you all for input


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