Origin of Unmarked Spoons

PHOTOS REQUIRED - marks + item
SilverSurfer
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Origin of Unmarked Spoons

Postby SilverSurfer » Sun Mar 11, 2007 10:46 pm

Okay, I know, it's next to impossible to attribute unmarked c.1800 American coin silver flatware. But, hey, let's give it the old college try anyway, eh? I just acquired five Old English Pattern picture/scroll back, small (a bit over four and a half inches in length) teaspoons, unmarked by the maker, but very American in form. Here are the pics:

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Might someone recognize the pattern impressed at the drop, indicating the general locality, group of silversmiths, or perhaps even the exact smith? Note the folding crack on the stem at the right of the scroll drop indicating hand formed sheet from which the spoon was fashioned. TIA for any info!

SS
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SilverSurfer
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Postby SilverSurfer » Fri Mar 07, 2008 2:07 am

I was just idly reviewing my old posts, and thought I'd bump this one back up to the top of the list. Might anyone recognize the embossed pattern at the drop of these spoons? Plant? Bird? Bigfoot? Thanks in advance for any spatial enlightenment!

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Bonaccini
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fancy backed tea spoons

Postby Bonaccini » Wed Jul 02, 2008 11:19 am

I can not help you to find a maker for your spoons but I would sujest they were made around 1730 to 1760 not 1800 .they are a model which, if made in England would were nearly always be fund to have been made more or less between those dates and go under the name offancy backed spoons.
Best whishes
Bonaccini
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kerangoumar
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Postby kerangoumar » Wed Jul 02, 2008 4:27 pm

hello bonaccini

colonial american silver can be tricky if one uses stylistic pointers to date it because there was usually a lag of a generation or more - or twenty-five or so years - between the style's appearance in europe and its assimilation into colonial america.

so if you apply that knowledge you will find that, though the style dates from 1730-1760, add twenty-five or so years - let's say thirty - and you have a date range of 1760-1790 as the earliest date at which this style might have shown itself on american soil.

then think that a new style won't be trashed six months later (as happens nowadays, with so much) and you can see that 1800 is a very reasonable date for these fancy-backed spoons; it takes into account their having become stylish in england up to fifty years earlier.
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SilverSurfer
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Postby SilverSurfer » Wed Jul 16, 2008 1:14 am

First, let me say that I'm gratified to have responses to this old inquiry! Thank you for your interest!

colonial american silver can be tricky if one uses stylistic pointers to date it because there was usually a lag of a generation or more - or twenty-five or so years - between the style's appearance in europe and its assimilation into colonial america.

so if you apply that knowledge you will find that, though the style dates from 1730-1760, add twenty-five or so years - let's say thirty - and you have a date range of 1760-1790 as the earliest date at which this style might have shown itself on american soil.


I don't know that I can agree with this argument. First, the Old English form started substantially displacing the Hanoverian form in Britain in about the 1750-1770 time frame. In the late eighteenth century, in cities such as New York, Boston and Philadelphia, there were many a silversmith advertising wares "in the latest fashion", and so only a few years at most behind the leaders in London. Twenty five to thirty years behind would have American silversmiths still producing Hanoverian flatware between the Revolution and 1800. This isn't the case that I can see. And the adoption of the Fiddle Pattern in Britain and America seems to be near simultaneous, at about 1800. That said, the spoons in question are likely "provincial", that is, translated to American parlance, far away from the commerce cities cited above (or else much earlier than the proposed ~1800 date of origin).

What can be surmised without much supposition, the spoons are fashioned from hand-hammered sheet (as opposed to more automated machined-rolled sheet), the forming is somewhat crude (hence the shape differences between spoons), they are small in the original application of the concept of "tea spoon" (i.e., meant for stirring tea and not for eating anything), and the engraving is also somewhat crude. Engraving aside, maybe not the maker's doing, regardless of when made, I'm guessing these spoons were fashioned by a not terribly carriage trade smith, though the possession of the drop scroll die gives me some reservations in this assessment. So, older and metropolitan, or newer and provincial? In any event, given the form, small size and crudity, I can't see these spoons as post-1800. TIA for any opinions!

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SilverSurfer
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Similar Drop

Postby SilverSurfer » Fri Jan 02, 2009 10:05 pm

I just came across a similar drop pattern, this one on a spoon marked by Caleb Beal of Massachusetts:

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The drop pattern on my spoons is a mirror image of Beal's, a somewhat different rendition of the same basic design. Might anyone recognize the meaning/significance of this motif? TIA!

NC
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silverly
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Postby silverly » Thu Dec 24, 2009 10:11 am

I can't say that I've seen a recognizeable trend to confirm this, but apparently there were pattern books sold to craftsman which might make it difficult to identify the maker of these spoons by the bowl back decorations alone.

For myself, makers marks, which are fantastic when they're present, have become less important. A silver item's workmanship and possible decorations have become enough for me in some cases. These spoons would fit that category.

Regardless of my opinion, good luck with your research.
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