Picture-Back Spoons - More on Later Embellishments

By Chris Bell and Mark Nevard

In previous articles published in The Finial (Oct/Nov 2000 and Feb/Mar 2002) we discussed the ways in which spoons that have been 'later embellished' may be identified. We also reported on some picture back spoons we have seen offered for sale and that have been determined as later embellished. Motifs noted on these later embellished spoons are the Squirrel, the British ~ Heart of Oak, the Dolphin/Spouting whale and the Masonic devices.

We read with interest, the description of some teaspoons offered for sale by Woolley & Wallis in their sale of Early Silver Spoons, Silver and Collector's items held on Wednesday 29th January. Lot 267A in this sale comprised 16 items including '... .six George III teaspoons, later stamped with the 'I Love Liberty' emblem'. Sure enough, on inspection, we also felt these spoons were definite candidates for the 'later embellished' list. Thank you Alexis Butcher for spotting these and providing a good and accurate catalogue description for your customers!

The spoons are of Old English pattern, maker 'W.W' (probably William Worthington) with no owner's inscription or crest. The picture is, as stated, the well-known birdcage, bird and 'I Love Liberty' slogan. The picture on this set of spoons appears identical to that on the equivalent late 19th early 20th century reproduction picture-back spoons, even to the flaw that can be seen on the upper horizontal bar of the cage.

From a close examination of these spoons, we can now add yet two more 'warning signs' of later embellishment to the list given in our previous articles.

Figs.1 to 3 show, in order left to right in each case, a genuine picture-back circa 1765, a later embellished one and an honest reproduction one of 1903. On this latest set:
1. There is a noticeable crease to one side of the bowl on some of the spoons, presumably caused when the already formed bowl was pressed into the new die.
2. The bowl shape itself, is deeper, shorter and more steeply angled, ending in a more pointed tip, all features closer to those on the reproduction teaspoons.

Fig.2                             Fig.3
Members should not expect to see all of the warning signs on any particular example of later embellished spoon. The two features described above, and particularly noticeable on these spoons, are absent from the ones we have described previously. Conversely, some indicators observed on other examples do not appear on this set.

As indicated in a previous article, to-date, we know of 17 different eighteenth century designs of pictures, excluding shells, scrolls and various flower arrangements, that were reproduced at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. We have now recorded 5 of these impressed onto genuine eighteenth century spoons. How many more?

Despite the accurate description these spoons were bid to over three times the estimate. Perhaps this reflected the possibility of passing them on as genuine to trade or public. As always, caveat emptor.

We would like to thank Daniel & Michael for these photos.


Silver Polishers

By Alan Kelsey

With reference to the article by Bill Gillham regarding over-polished spoons, in the Feb/Mar.'03 issue of The Finial. The Silver Polisher is a trade in its own right, and is just as important as the Silversmith or Spoonmaker is in making silver articles, but they are seldom given the credit they deserve. A good polisher will give you any finish you want - Bright, Antique or Butler finish.

To anyone looking for a good Silver Polisher I would recommend Mick Thackery who has considerable experience in antique, new and second hand cutlery polishing. Members can contact him at: F.T.M. Polishing, Silver Plating, Unit 27, Metropolitan Business Centre, Enfield Road, London. N15AZ.


.16. & .17.
The Finial, April/May 2003

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