An Unusual Birmingham Caddy Spoon

By Ian Mc Alpine, M.A.

In February 2001, I acquired a shovel type caddy spoon with a mother-of-pearl handle by Joseph Taylor of Birmingham. It carried five separate punch marks stamped inside and at the very back of the shovel as follows: lion passant guardant; profiled duty head; IT; lion passant guardant; profiled duty head. There was no date letter or town mark.

The doubling of duty in July 1797 was initially indicated by an additional conventional oval duty mark on Birmingham silver(1). These two marks were replaced in March 1798 by a single one whose surround closely followed the profile of the Kings head(2).

Could the second duty mark have been added in error by a workman who wrongly believed that the two oval duty marks were to be replaced by two profiled ones rather than a single profiled one? If so the spoon was most probably assayed in or shortly after March 1798. This however does not explain the two standard marks unless the workman doubled those as well for good measure.

Can anyone please shed any further light on this anomaly?

1. Pickford's Jackson, page 354.
2. Judith Banister, 'English Silver Hallmarks' 1995, page 30.


The Finial, February/March 2003

This site and images copyright © 1997-2003, by Daniel Bexfield Antiques