Apologies for coming back with photos of some spoons that, though rare, are not as rare as the dognose spoon that started this thread. There is a reason. When I commented earlier that it would be odd to have the date letter nearest the bowl and the maker’s mark nearest the terminal, I chose my words carefully. I did not say impossible because I am well aware there are exceptions to the rule. I have since thought I had better check my own spoons to see just how common the exceptions were and was surprised by the number I turned up – a very small proportion of all the dognose and Hanoverian spoons, but a high proportion of those dated between 1711 and 1717. Here is the list in date order of those with the maker’s mark nearest the terminal.
1711, Wm Scarlett, a Hanoverian rattail dessert spoon
1712, Wm Scarlett, a Hanoverian double drop tablespoon (an oddity at this date. Perhaps there has been some alteration to the spoon but I cannot see how it might have been done)
1713, Wm Scarlett, a Dognose spoon with a fat stem rib, see top photo above. I think the rib is applied, i.e. soldered on. Most of the fat rib examples I have seen were from the Wm Scarlett workshop.
1714, WmScarlett, a Hanoverian “Heart end” tablespoon, the lower spoon in the second photo above. Two thin ribs run round the edge of the stem to form the heart shape. I think this pattern is die stamped.
1716, another heart end Hanoverian, this time by John Holland, the top spoon in the second photo.
1717, Benjamin Watts (probably – mark very worn), a Hanoverian rattail tablespoon.
1749, a small Hanoverian double drop dessert spoon, partial maker’s mark only (possibly Paul de Lamerie, but that might be thought wishful). This is my only example outside the Britannia standard period.
You will notice that Wm Scarlett features very strongly. On my earlier spoons by him, which pre-date the appearance of the stem rib as a feature on some dognose and most Hanoverian spoons, the maker’s mark is in the normal place.
The number of rarer patterns in the list may perhaps reflect my collecting interests rather than a tendency for such spoons in particular to attract this marking anomaly.
Anyhow, what this means is that I should possibly have been more cautious about the marks on WesternPA’s spoon. It might indeed be from 1715 with the remnants of a maker’s mark nearer its terminal (though not necessarily so). If the rattail is of the type that I think of as “drop and rattail” with a very distinct drop before the rattail at the heel of the bowl, it might even be by Wm Scarlett. His rattails at this period seem mostly to be of that form.
It is dangerous to generalise on the basis of examples from a single collection, but perhaps I may volunteer a theory. When the rattail began to decorate spoon bowls, the leopard’s head mark was moved from the bowl to join the others on the back of the stem. It is assumed this was to protect the rattail from damage. The standard procedure continued to be for the maker to mark the spoon near the bowl. The assay office would then add the hallmarks running up the stem and often scattered quite far up the stem in those days.
When spoons began to be decorated with a stem rib or with other decoration of the type shown in this thread, some makers may have felt it desirable to protect this decoration in the same way that the rattail was protected. By putting the maker’s mark as high up the stem as they could without the decoration on the other side being damaged, they caused the assay office to strike its marks lower, in the gap between maker’s mark and bowl.
Not all spoonmakers felt the need for this precaution. Once it became clear that the assay office was grouping its marks compactly enough everybody could revert to normal marking practice. The anomaly of the 1749 spoon listed above may result from the fact that it is a very small spoon with a pronounced stem rib. The maker might have been worried that, because of its size, the hall marks might stray too far up its stem, so placed his own mark high as a long stop.
Clearly I should beware of pontificating before doing a bit of fact checking but perhaps I can go on to risk saying that I would be surprised if WesternPA’s spoon turned out to be cast. My own feeling is that it is most likely to have been die stamped