Identifying a spoon's heel (drop)

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Granmaa
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Identifying a spoon's heel (drop)

Postby Granmaa » Wed Feb 21, 2007 5:46 pm

A single drop just looks like a single extension whereas a double looks like two. A strap drop is just a long single, they are sometimes called extended drops. Some people count the shells on fancy backs as drops, and there are other disagreements; such as whether or not the die stamps on King's and it's variations should be considered drops.

Here is a picture of a double and a strap drop; the double doesn't have to be pinched in the middle of the second layer. These are both from 1740's table spoons.
I'll try and post more drops soon.
Miles

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admin
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Postby admin » Wed Feb 21, 2007 6:02 pm

...and a rattail drop.

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... also added a page on the anatomy of a spoon

http://www.925-1000.com/a_spoonanatomy.html

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Last edited by admin on Tue Jun 19, 2007 11:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

Kit
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Postby Kit » Wed Feb 21, 2007 6:08 pm

Wow, thank you both for your generosity of time and photos. Thanks, Kit.
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Hose_dk
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Postby Hose_dk » Fri Feb 23, 2007 5:10 pm

I had an idea that you might be able to see what period the spoons were made during. But it seems that there is no patern. I have selected some spoons from 173? ties up to 1797.

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Spoons from Denmark and Sweden. The one from 1747 is that a normal tecknique at that time ?

And some from 1800 to 1836
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And finally from 1837 to 1862.
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1850 looks like the ones from picture one.
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Kit
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Postby Kit » Fri Feb 23, 2007 5:40 pm

What a well-organized presentation, Hose_dk!
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Hose_dk
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Postby Hose_dk » Sat Feb 24, 2007 3:49 am

Customers expected spoons to look i a certain way. This spoon is from Norway, Christiania 1798 (Oslo). You might expect that the spoon was earlier due to the ornamentation. But mark says different. I would also expect that the spoon was made in two pieces. But it is not.

The customer expected to see the spoons "heel" drop here it is engraved.

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I have more spoons with different ornamentaion instead of the heel. I will post them later. At a museum I once saw a spoon with a similar rattail ornamentation.
When did they actualy start producing spoons in one piece of silver without the heel drop?
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Granmaa
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Postby Granmaa » Sat Feb 24, 2007 8:15 am

With English spoons that date depends on the type of spoon: spoons which don't come under much stress often came with no drops, like this caddy and mustard spoon from c.1775 and c.1810.

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As for table spoons, die stamped varieties were often made in one piece. Here is an 1840 king's table spoon:

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Miles
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Hose_dk
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Postby Hose_dk » Sat Feb 24, 2007 12:28 pm

This contribution is a bit away from the subject. The picture presents 5 spoons - 2 dinner spoons from Oslo 1776 and 1798. The last one engraved.
Then 3 different tea spoons where the silver smith has engraved 3 different ways to present the "no drop"
Image
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Kit
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Postby Kit » Sat Feb 24, 2007 1:47 pm

Hose_dk and Miles:
Do the bowls of the Denmark 1800, Sweden 1810, Sweden 1819, and the 1840 king's spoons indicate they are tablespoons? From the rear view, the bowls seem to extend on either side of the shank. Is this decorative or structural? Or am I not asking the right question? Kit
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Postby Granmaa » Sat Feb 24, 2007 2:16 pm

I'm sorry Kit, I don't understand your question. I only put the king's pattern up to show that it has no proper drop, simply a stamped pattern. It doesn't matter that it's a table spoon, you'd see the same on desserts and teaspoons.

Miles
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Hose_dk
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Postby Hose_dk » Sat Feb 24, 2007 3:08 pm

On my 3 spoons they are structural.
I.E. they are all made in 2 pieces in order to strengthen the spoon. If that was your question.

The spoons I have shown today are all decorative. Execpt the Norwegian that I posted to compair.
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Kit
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Postby Kit » Sat Feb 24, 2007 4:09 pm

Thanks, Hose_dk, for confirming those spoons were made in two pieces. Miles, I think my brain insists on seeing the pattern as a drop on your spoon. Perhaps this is a detail best seen in person?! Thanks to you both for your patience. Kit
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Postby Granmaa » Sat Feb 24, 2007 5:32 pm

This picture shows the simple steps for a 1 piece king's pattern spoon.

Miles

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admin
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Postby admin » Sat Feb 24, 2007 7:14 pm

Hi,
I think there is some confusion about the 2 piece construction. I know a spoon with a pronounced drop will often make it appear that a spoon was made in 2 parts, but don't believe that is the case. I am fairly sure that from sometime in the 1st half of the 18th century almost all spoons are made in a one piece construction, the drop formed in a hand struck die. Don't have the time right know, but will dig around in the literature to get some verification.

Regards, Tom
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Postby dragonflywink » Sat Feb 24, 2007 7:54 pm

I was just going to post the same opinion on two-piece construction, having always found in my research that spoons dating later than rat-tails, and possibly some rat-tails were raised from a single ingot, using a swage to form the drop. Have also seen swages with decorative designs incorporated below the drop to produce the wonderful shell, bird, flower basket, etc. picture-backs on some pieces.

Cheryl ;o)
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admin
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Postby admin » Fri Mar 09, 2007 2:52 pm

Miles' post on forks just reminded me that I'd not gotten back to this post... anyway...
I've wracked my library and can't find the reference, probably from a book I no longer have, but trust me on this (if not, trust Cheryl!), they are one piece construction.
I did find this on the web
The eighteenth century saw an important technical advance with the invention of crucible cast steel by Benjamin Huntsman in c1742....High quality cast steel made an important contribution to the development of dies for stamping out cutlery and silverware, an important innovation in the mass production of these items.

As I understand the terminology, a die is a two part mechanism, forming the spoon bowl with matching shapes, concave below, convex above.
A swage is a single piece, a block with shaped depressions for hammering into. Both were used to form spoon bowls.
Hope this helps.
Tom
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Granmaa
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Postby Granmaa » Fri Mar 09, 2007 10:45 pm

I'm not sure you're right Tom, though like you, I can find no literature on the subject. I have quite a few books on spoons and none of them mentions this part of the manufacturing process.

However (using Old English pattern as an example), if dies were used, surely we would expect a perfect or nearly perfect end product. In this picture of an 1809 teaspoon you can see that the sides of the bowl are not level at the bottom, and rough marks around the drop suggesting a join by soldering or perhaps another method. The drop is even veering off so the left slightly.
There have been no repairs to the spoon.

Miles

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admin
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Postby admin » Sat Mar 10, 2007 3:52 am

Hi Miles,
I'm fully in agreement that many spoons of the period appear to be two part constructions, even when it is not the case. There are a number of reasons for this and I'll try to set them out in a logical way.
In two-part spoon construction, the drop was not just a decorative element, it had two very practical reasons to exist. Firstly, it was a structural necessity providing ample area for a strong solder joint. A butt joint of bowl to stem is very weak and without the area of overlap it would likely snap if the porridge was a little too thick. Secondly, the drop was a wear buffer, the thickness it provided to a spoon bowl's resting area would not allow it to wear through quickly.
It is apparent that, back then, change was not the saleable commodity it is in the present day. If you look at the evolution of spoon design from 1700 to 1850, it is remarkable how little they really changed and how minute the increments of change were. To go from Hanoverian to Old English over a span of decades is slower than a snail's pace.
With the advent of available dies to make one piece construction practical and drops structurally unnecessary, it's clear that the buying public still expected drops on the backs of their spoons, which is why we see engraved pseudo-drops on some dropless spoons of the period.
Smart businessmen that smiths were, drops stayed and and spoon dies were adapted to form drops along with the bowls, they still prevented wear-through, they pleased the customers and it certainly did not hurt if spoons appeared to be made in the same, time consuming, way as they were in the past.
However, the making of a spoon, by hand, with a die or swage is not as clean or as neat as we may imagine. The metal is roughly trimmed to shape, then stretched and thinned were needs be, elongated and thickened were needs be, and then the oval flat end mashed into bowl & drop. Here the process is not over, it comes out rough, spoonlike but still very crude and it takes much afterwork and artisanship to turn it into a finished spoon.
Although the photo example of the stages of spoonmaking (four posts up) shows a 19th century example, it still applies to a 1750 Hanover, after diestamping it is still only half done. The bowl edges have to be trimmed down evenly and the drop's shape refined - all by hand filing, then scrapers, then scotchstone - followed by an arduous polishing out of the tool marks and any marks from flaws in the die. In the photo of the spoon drop (one post up) the marks under the arrow are file or scraper marks that were not polished out well, the bowl appears asymmetric because of uneven trimming of the edge. The apprentice or journeyman responsible may have had too many beers with his breakfast, or then again, as many were pieceworkers, I'm sure they cut corners wherever they could get away with them.
Aside from, but in support the above theory, a solder joint in a two part construction will always show as a thin line of varying color, sometimes with a bubble pit or two. Very difficult to see around the edge of a drop, but more easily discernable on the front of the spoon where the stem joins the bowl.

All that said, I have to admit that I have nothing to back it up but a freewheeling imagination... so have at me... and could someone please dig up some respectable source material on the subject.

Regards, Tom
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Postby admin » Fri Mar 23, 2007 3:24 am

Hi,
Curiosity got the better of me and had to test the "die formed" theory. Today, I bit the bullet and made a "one piece construction" spoon die and a spoon from it. Photo doc'ed it, click on Spoon

Regards, Tom
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Postby dognose » Fri Mar 23, 2007 6:14 am

Hi Tom,
That was a great piece of work,
Regards Trev.
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