Hi, I received information from; Zilvermuseum Sterckshof Provencie Antwerpen http://www.zilvermuseum.be
The head of collections and research wrote me by email in Dutch and I translated:I have seen the combination of V.H in horizontal rectangle with star/pentagram in circle before and in the documentation of the museum found reference to a pair of sugar casters, auctioned at Christie’s Amsterdam on November 16, 1999. Only one of the identical casters was marked with VH in horizontal rectangle, star/pentagram in circle and 98 (86?) in horizontal rectangle. At the time still labelled mid-18th century.Lot Description
A pair of Dutch silver sugar casters
Maker's mark VH, town mark a star, only one caster marked, possibly Southern Netherlands, mid 18th Century
Spirally fluted, the high domed base rising to a baluster-shaped body, the upper part pierced with flower-sprays, with baluster finial
15cm. (5.7/8in.) high
Marked on reverse
322gr. (2)In 1999 the experts of Christie’s wrote; possible Southern Netherlands, could that be Maastricht?
The quality of the shakers and fork & spoon is obvious and made by skilled big town silversmith/shop. Looking at both dates; 98(86?) and 94(46?) fork & spoon, we can assume 98 and 94 to be right and to be for; 1794 and 1798, although it could be noticed that the rectangle and figure 94 do look weak and could have been struck with a 'home made' date-punch mark.
Herewith some facts: Maastricht, being an Old Catholic stronghold and perhaps even the oldest settlement and city in the Netherlands. The important strategic location of Maastricht resulted during the ages in the construction of an impressive array of fortifications around the city.
In 1579, when Spain ruled the Netherlands, the city of Maastricht was in the hands of Dutch rebels. In 1579, on the 12th of March, the Spanish General Alexander Farnese started to lay siege to the city with his army consisting of 20,000 men. The same year, on June 29th, the city was conquered and ransacked for more than three days, looting by the Spanish soldiers, citizen were raped and killed, blood and treasure lost including most of Maastricht’s silver. Famiano Strada (Rome, 1572 - there, June 9, 1649) a Jesuit priest, historian and moralist, estimated the value of the booty, more than one million guilders.
Maastricht was occupied by the Spanish troops for 53 years. In 1632 the city was conquered by Frederick Henry the protestant Prince of Orange. His victory brought a certain degree of stability and introduced a new era of religious tolerance. The citizens of Maastricht had suffered tremendously during all sieges of their town but now Protestants and Catholics could coexist in some sort of harmony. In 1634 Maastricht came under tread of another Spanish siege and church & citizens were summoned by the Magistrate of Maastricht to hand over their silver & gold, in order to make coins, to pay for the extra costs to defend the city.
French troops occupied Maastricht from 1673 to 1678. From 1748 till 1749 the French once again conquered the city. The French took the city one last time in 1794 and Maastricht was annexed to the First French Empire. In 1795 the bourgeoisie of Maastricht were forced to pay a very high war tax or if they could not comply to hand over their gold & silver and in 1796 the municipal officials of Maastricht were ordered to hand over all their official silver to the French.
We also know that the garrison town Maastricht granted special rights to members belonging to the garrison. Garrison members could start a trade without permission of the local trade guilds. The members of the gold & silver guild of Maastricht made severe complains to the Authorities of Maastricht and the Garrison Commandant about silver & goldsmith shops started up by garrison members and called it unfair competition and questioned the fineness of the used alloys and so on.Question
; how did those non guild members marked their silver? Non guild members could not use the official guild mark being the star of Maastricht but could use a 'pseudo guild' mark being a star/pentagram; symbolic for the five wounds of Jesus and known to be used in military logos.
Could the initials V.H stand for a catholic, non-guild registered ‘free’ silversmith living in Maastricht, around the turn of the 18th century, a time of great transition? When the French occupied Maastricht in November 1794, the Guilds were declared abolished but temporarily remain in existence as destroyed guilds until 1807 with the total dismantling of the guilds, and the introduction of office marks and uniform date letter.Again we have absolutely no proof that the star/pentagram is a non-official mark for Maastricht and the above is only food for thoughts.