The three sets of marks are not only entirely logical, but also contain a great history lesson. The first set of marks, as you have determined, were struck in 1746 when the spoons were made in Leeuwarden, Friesland by Menno Thijssen (Master 1731, died 1765). But the story only begins there.
In 1806, Napoleon established the puppet Kingdom of Holland with his brother Louis as King. Napoleon quickly became disenchanted with his brother, so the Kingdom was dissolved in 1810 and the Netherlands were formally annexed into France. The dÃ©partment of Frise was created in 1811 with Leeuwarden as its prefecture, and a French assay office was opened there on 1 March 1812. Unlike the French dÃ©partments which used a numeric “diffÃ©rent” to distinguish the various offices, the new dÃ©partments on former Dutch territory used letters; the letter for the Leeuwarden office was “S”.
So these spoons were evidently presented for re-sale in Leeuwarden around this time. Since the earlier Dutch marks were invalid in the new French territory, the spoons were considered unmarked and therefore subject to assay, marking, and duty. The French second standard (.800) mark was used since the old Friesian standard of .934 was too low to meet the French first (.950) standard. (The strict tolerance of French finenesses was evidently waived.) The French duty was 10%, but Napoleon had imposed an additional 16% “War Tribute” in the former Dutch dÃ©partments.
After Napoleon’s defeat by Russia in 1813, the assayer at Leeuwarden, Johannes Marie Antonius Marcke, immediately traveled to Groningen to order a new set of punches with Dutch lions instead of French roosters. (This despite orders that he was to consider himself a civil servant of Tsar Alexander.) He returned to find that the assay office’s landord has auctioned off the entire contents of the building, most of which was never recovered. He never even got to use his new punches; they were surrendered for destruction upon receipt, having been superseded by provisional national marks in December 1813. These, in turn, were replaced the new official Dutch marks, which the assay office in Leeuwarden began using on 5 March 1814.
The steep 26% duty remained in force, though. (King William I used the proceeds to pay off the 40 million florin cost of the Batte of Waterloo.) The additional 16% surtax was gradually lowered over the years to 13% before being abolished entirely in 1853. The hatchet mark, not coincidentally, was introduced that same year. It was to be used on items bearing invalid, but previously legal, marks of national origin, including marks of the old Dutch guilds and the French Empire. These items were to be considered of Dutch origin and therefore exempt from further duty. Thus, these spoons must have turned up for sale again after 1853, this time escaping duty by the application of the hatchet mark.
These spoons, therefore, record over a century of Dutch history, from one year before the unification of the seven provinces under William IV, Prince of Orange, through the rise and fall of Napoleon, to the rocky early years of the reign of William III of the Netherlands.
They’re a perfect example of why I find continental silver so fascinating.