The Hallmarking of Small Newcastle Spoons 1787-1831

By Ian Mc Alpine, M.A.

Between August 2001 and October 2002 I published in The Finial a series of eight articles analysing and discussing the hallmarking of London flatware from 1776 to 1835. In this article I attempt a similar though less comprehensive study of small Newcastle spoons from 1878 to 1831.

Although date letters first regularly appeared on small London spoons in 1781 they were seldom used on provincial ones until the early 19th century. Consequently such spoons can often be dated only from their maker's mark or on stylistic grounds. Small Newcastle spoons seem not to have had date letters until as late as 1821. However, various forms of marking were used on pre-1821 specimens so I decided to analyse these and try to arrange them in chronological order as an extra aid to dating.

I began my survey with the introduction of the cameo duty head in 1787 because of shortage of information on earlier periods. My study of London marks showed that the marking of large flatware at Goldsmiths' Hall frequently differed from that of small London spoons and tongs. Consequently I decided not to use variations in the marking of large Newcastle flatware (which carries date letters) as a guide to the dating of small specimens. It is notable that cusped duty heads seem not to have been used on small Newcastle spoons.

My tentative results are shown in the accompanying table.


Tim Kent forwards a footnote on the counter-marked Spanish 8-reales: (The Finial, Apr/May'03, page 7). In 1797 the Navy captured an immense amount of these coins, and it took six wagons to transport them to the Bank of England. On arrival the Lord Mayor came out of the Mansion House and drank "Success to the Royal Navy" out of a gold cup. According to Tom Wilmot (who kindly gave me this information) the countermarked issue was "ridiculed from the start" and was widely counterfeited.


The Finial, June/July 2003

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