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Silver spoon possibly early Lion mark

Posted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 6:25 pm
by Scottb
Hi, firstly thanks for looking at this post
I have a tea spoon with just a makers mark TJ and lion mark
No assay mark, which i have read is often the case with small spoons.
Is it possible to date and discover the maker still ??
Very grateful for any thoughts , regards Scott

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Re: Silver spoon possibly early Lion mark

Posted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 10:56 pm
by WarrenKundis

A lovely object. Looking through all of the English cities for the closest example on silver makers marks UK for TJ or what appears to be T pellet J, it may actually be London silversmith Thomas James active 1804-1827 registered in 1804. Let's see if one of our more experienced members can confirm that for us.


Re: Silver spoon possibly early Lion mark

Posted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 1:54 am
by silvermakersmarks
I don't think that this is English. Firstly there is no date letter; this is highly unusual but may possibly have happened during the 18th century. However the location of the marks leads me to think that the piercing work is original but stylistically it does not look like the sort of work which would have been done then.


Re: Silver spoon possibly early Lion mark

Posted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 2:45 am
by Aguest
I find it strange that the lion is upside down when compared to the "TJ" makers mark.

Also, when I look at the lion, it seems to be an imitation of the Lion Passant symbol.
It closely resembles the Lion Passant, but something is just a bit different there when I look at it for a long time.

The open-worked (or pierced) handle is very nice, this is a great spoon.

I get a feeling that it is Northern European in origin, perhaps even Iceland, but I am not an expert so this is just a feeling.

Re: Silver spoon possibly early Lion mark

Posted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 4:44 am
by dognose
Hi All,

Welcome to the Forum Scott.

In my opinion what we have here is a cast spoon assayed at London in the 1770's.

Between about 1770 and 1780 Goldsmiths Hall performed many experiments on hallmark positioning. An article was published in 'The Finial' (Vol.14/06) by Anthony Dove, in it he illustrates a four tined fork by Thomas Heming c.1770 struck with only a Lion Passant along side the maker's mark placed at the base of the tines at the rear, and another example of similar marking on a George Smith fork c. 1775. These experiments were probably to prevent damage to the decoration that was becoming more and more popular on flatware and space options for marking on a suitable flat surface becoming increasing smaller.

Here's an example of a different marking position that was tried out at this time:


Dublin also experimented:



As can be seen from the Dublin example, there was no space on the stem for the current system of bottom marking.

That leaves us with the mysterious 'TJ'. He is likely to be one of the entrants in the missing Largeworker's register (1758-1773). There was nothing to stop Largeworkers making small objects, or vice versa. The silversmith, 'TJ', however, will, at the moment, remain a mystery.


Re: Silver spoon possibly early Lion mark

Posted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 5:37 am
by agphile
A part set of three very similar spoons formed Lot 101 in the sale of the Martin Gubbins Collection (Bonhams, 18 July 2002) and were listed as by Thomas Justis, c.1770. The catalogue doesn't show the marks but I don't recall that there was any reason to doubt the attribution so presumably they were the TI shown in Grimwade. The successful bidder split out one spoon on which the maker's mark was not complete and which I now have.

Sadly, only the "T" of the mark is still present. However, given Martin Gubbins' expertise on marks, I think we can be pretty confident about the Justis attribution for those three spoons. In this case it seems likely that the TJ on the spoon now in question is another Justis mark from the lost register.

Re: Silver spoon possibly early Lion mark

Posted: Thu Jun 26, 2014 4:07 am
by Scottb
Hi and thank you all for the many informative posts.
I had a feeling it was 18th C but struck out on finding any matching marks.
Really do appreciate the time taken to respond..
now ... where did i put all those other silver things i could never figure out...
i shall start rummaging..

Re: Silver spoon possibly early Lion mark

Posted: Fri Jun 27, 2014 8:37 am
by agphile
Glad to have been of some help. At the risk of grinding too small I think I ought to spell out a bit more detail about my suggested attribution of the mark to Thomas Justis in case you ever need a fuller explanation of the evidence. He has various marks entered in the London smallworkers register between 1761 and 1770, using the initials TI rather than TJ. However he was free in 1748 so one needs to ask what mark he would have used between then and 1761. It would have been recorded in the smallworkers register for 1739-58 which is another lost book. We know from the examples in the Gubbins collection that Justis made spoons of this rare pattern. I think that this points fairly strongly to the TJ on your spoon being his mark from the years of the missing register.

I would be inclined to date the spoon between 1756 and circa 1760. Earlier than 1756 the lion passant punch would have had a different outline. After 1760 I guess Justis (if I am right about it being him) would have been more likely to use his new TI mark. In any event, the lack of a duty mark means that the spoon must be earlier than Dec 1784.

Re: Silver spoon possibly early Lion mark

Posted: Sun Jun 29, 2014 5:04 pm
by Scottb
Agphile, many thanks again for the further clarification and great info.

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Once again thanks to all. Scott