17th century English spoons reworked in the 19th century.

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WarrenKundis
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17th century English spoons reworked in the 19th century.

Postby WarrenKundis » Tue Jun 25, 2019 7:20 pm

Good day,

Was reading through some old posts on English and French spoons when I spotted a comment made by Trev on a 2008 thread about an English spoon. He stated that "when originally made would have been plain, the decoration is a later Victorian addition." Having recently acquired a Ebenezer Coker fruit and berry spoon London dated 1749 was curious whether it was also the case with this spoon. Have seen the comment posted on eBay and other places.

Was this very common practice? And since the spoon even through it bears earlier marks had been modified to cater to Victorian tastes, was this act not illegal or at the least unethical?

Would love to hear your thoughts.
Warren

Sasropakis
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Re: 17th century English spoons reworked in the 19th century.

Postby Sasropakis » Wed Jun 26, 2019 3:16 pm

I assume you mean 18th century and not 17th century (1600s). I've never seen that this kind of thing was done to a 17th century spoon but of course there are some examples of similar but genuine baroque decoration found in other objects.

I've seen quite many examples of 18th century spoons sold online and I think they are practically always Georgian spoons with later Victorian decoration from the 19th century. As far as I know and have read there aren't really any "genuine" 18th century berry spoons but the decoration is always a later addition. Although the spoon itself and the hallmarks are genuine and from 18th century I think it's ethically questionable to sell these without mentioning that the decoration is later. So they should rather be labelled as "Georgian silver spoon with later Victorian decoration" than "18th century berry spoon".

I don't think that the practice was illegal during the Victorian time (it could be compared to engraving) but it seems to have been fairly common based on the amount of those spoons for sale nowadays. The practice and the items can be seen as examples of different tastes in different eras and thus historically interesting but personally I'm not fond of those reworked berry spoons and it always bothers me to see them for sale if there isn't any proper note of the later decoration.

AG2012
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Re: 17th century English spoons reworked in the 19th century.

Postby AG2012 » Thu Jun 27, 2019 2:53 am

Victorians ruined not only old silver but also many antique furniture with French polish.
On the other hand,let's have in mind at the time when they did it silver was not antique in their eyes being less than 100 years old.
Serious auctioneers always state later decoration in description and of course, it is reflected on the value of an item.
Regards

silvermakersmarks
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Re: 17th century English spoons reworked in the 19th century.

Postby silvermakersmarks » Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:10 pm

I do not think that this sort of decoration was done on family silver. It is much more likely to have been aimed at the up-and-coming middle classes who wanted to make a statement about their new-found prosperity. We often see that the "pairs", although having the same decoration, have completely different hallmarks. As to the legality, the hallmarks were originally applied to spoons and they are still spoons so there should be no complaints from the assay office. It is only when silver is re-purposed that there is an offence.

Phil

legrandmogol
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Re: 17th century English spoons reworked in the 19th century.

Postby legrandmogol » Fri Jun 28, 2019 8:13 am

Another interesting point, there were a lot of second-hand silver sellers in England back then. With Victorian tastes being less plain, some silver seller with a glut of old spoons that weren't selling probably tried to spice things up and it took off. Much like the sellers today who turn teaspoons into ice cream spoons and such. They also didn't just do this to spoons. You can find many a Georgian mug or tankard with this type of design and worse a spout added. If you look on a popular online auction site you will actually see a 17th-century trefid spoon that someone turned into a berry spoon, I don't think anything was immune.

WarrenKundis
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Re: 17th century English spoons reworked in the 19th century.

Postby WarrenKundis » Sun Jun 30, 2019 4:33 pm

Thank you all for your observations, very enlightening.

Again seems to be the age old problem, do we retrain what has been passed down, sell it, or bring it up to-date? For those rising up the social ladder, how to look respectable with little cost.

Although have seen a few examples of appraisers remark that the silver object they are holding has for example was created as a 17th century covered tankard, had a spout added, then removed. What they had bought was now was not legal.

Another was a 17th or 18th century charger which now had a raised lion's face and modified border. New hallmarks had been applied as early as last year from the date of the show. For a purchaser or institution would depend on how much stock do you put in the object itself and it's provenance or not. Particularly for an institution it can have serious consequences for it's reputation and standing.

Thank you again
Warren


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