Very old french purse - please help to identify hallmarks

PHOTOS REQUIRED - marks + item
s777
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Very old french purse - please help to identify hallmarks

Postby s777 » Sat Oct 03, 2009 10:07 am

Hello, I have very old and quality made sterling lady purse - pretty sure french origins. I think this is at least 18th century. Please help to identify hallmarks.

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dinio
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Postby dinio » Fri Oct 09, 2009 5:04 pm

Hi,

It is a beautiful purse, certainly of French origin because the insect mark looks like the countermark left by the "bigorne", the anvil used in the french assay offices to strike the official marks since May 1836 (not 18C, sorry). Each "bigorne" has 2 striking areas, one flat and one of rounded shape, each being engraved with tiny stripes of insects. Each assay office has 3 "bigornes" of different sizes used according to the object size. The "bigornes" used in Paris and in province have different insects engraved on them.

If I am right then this insect mark is the head of the grasshopper which can be found in stripe 5 of a big "bigorne" of the Paris assay office.

This hypothesis can be confirmed by looking on the other face of the silver, just opposite to the insect mark. There should be some official mark there. If so, could you post its picture?

The other marks look like figures. It is not usual to see such marks on French silver, and I do not know what they are. Perhaps a model number?

Hope this helps.
Dinio

dinio
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Postby dinio » Sun Oct 11, 2009 6:55 pm

Hi,

I just realized that my answer is a bit misleading. "Bigornes" have been in use since July 1818 in France, but they was different than the ones used from 1836. I described only the latter because the grasshopper was present only on these "bigornes".

Hope this helps.
Dinio

s777
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Joined: Wed Apr 16, 2008 6:17 am
Location: Israel

vintage french purse

Postby s777 » Mon Oct 12, 2009 4:38 pm

Thanks for contribution - I spent 20minuts trying to find another hallmarks : unfortunately I have everything posted : the bee and that round marks.
My quess about age of the item based on fabric look - it looks like much older then 100-150 years old item I have seen enough in my life.
The purse decoration and fabric is very complicated - in the same time - silver surface is not clean and accurate, but too much 'hand made', pretty ugly from inner side.
Bee hallmark and other hallmarks are not very well stamped, like in very old items..
Shortly - strange feeling about it, I am not sure this made is 19th.. and the quality is outstanding.. will invest little more in research.
Thanks so much for the help - I see peoples not jumping to help, possibly because of rarity of the hallmarks. Dmitry

dragonflywink
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Postby dragonflywink » Mon Oct 12, 2009 6:15 pm

Very pretty bag. Not really my area, but you might consider that this bag is not French, the grasshopper marks do seem intended to represent bigornes, but bigornes are countermarks. As Dinio indicated, when the guarantee mark was struck, the bigorne would be on the reverse and both marks would be made at the same time, that's why there should be another mark on the other side of the metal, directly opposite the bigorne.

~Cheryl

dragonflywink
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Postby dragonflywink » Mon Oct 12, 2009 6:37 pm

Curious as to why you believe the bag to be 18th century. Again, not really my area, but have handled quite a few handbags over the years and the cut-steel beadwork and construction seems very similar to late 19th-early 20th century pieces (often French).

~Cheryl

s777
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Location: Israel

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Postby s777 » Wed Oct 14, 2009 5:50 pm

Cheryl, thanks
interesting point... i have not checked beads material. Now I tried to scratch it with the knife, and it looks very hard... harder then steel (I have used very sharp $500 knife - has 62 hardness by Rockwell, not a smallest scratch! It suppose to be glass or even carbide something... Such steel developed only 15 years ago) Its also too black and shiny for steel.
i am absolutely not expert (not in french silver) - I have medium collection of English and American silver. My approximation of the item age based on fabric quality and aging, silver surface quality (ugly from inside), and 'wiped' hallmarks. I never seen older 19th century silver so 'wiped'. This is 99% French item (I purchased it from French family), bee is a 'french love', swans, womans head (minerve?) - all that looks like French design. French, Russian and English silver has very detailed 'systematisation' of hallmarks - at least in 19th century. It should be makers marks, duty marks, date, silver quality town marks etc. Nothing even close on this purse. Only bee (complicated enough by the way) - but stamped very ugly, and five round hallmarks in the corners (2 corners) of purse silver 'bows'.
i afraid to make mistake - its complicated item, quality material, etc . I belive this is older silver... Will wait - maybe someone know this bee mark.
i am very thankfull for you reply - appriciate any help.
Regards, Dmitry

dragonflywink
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Postby dragonflywink » Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:48 pm

Hi Dmitry,

It is a lovely bag, but it really does seem to be late 19th-early 20th century in style and construction, and while the bead-work does appear to be French, would still suspect that the frame may have been made elsewhere in a "French" style. Cut-steel studs and beads, which were/are very shiny, do date back to the late 18th century, but the beads were usually crocheted into different type reticules than yours. Your pictures are excellent, and appear to show a few beads that have small splits along the edges which would be typical of cut-steel, and your first picture seems to show several tiny areas of rust on the beadwork. Steel beads are sturdy though fairly thin, but if you put a decent magnet to them, there should be an attraction.

Again, these are areas in which I have some experience, but not any particular expertise, so hopefully someone will happen along with further opinions.

~Cheryl


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