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David Orfeur writes: I have tried to resist, but regret that I cannot refrain from reacting to Bill Gilliam's article concerning the so called 'improvement of your spoons'. Reading it made me wince, and it reminded me of the advertisement that I found in an American spoon collectors' magazine of the 1950's, and which I quoted in a previous Finial, about a spoon-polishing machine that had been patented.

Let me say that I would not allow fine emery paper, Brasso, jewellers' rouge, or Silver Dip within a meter of any of my old spoons.

The patina that a fine old spoon displays consists of wear, of thousands of scratches, abrasions, and rubs that build up over decades, and it represents an attractive precious and highly important part of the history of the piece, which can never be satisfactorily replaced or reproduced.

The older, the finer, the rarer the spoon the more important it is that the patina, the scratches and marks of use are not removed or meddled with. It is infinitely better to retain them than to remove and replace them with a new and artificial surface, which has no aesthetic appeal whatsoever, and would be of little interest to discriminating collectors.

I might say that in my opinion it is equally damaging to erase original crests and inscriptions, which amazingly does take place, mainly for commercial reasons.

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Tim Kent helps with 'A Childs Puritan Spoon' identification (The Finial, Feb/Mar '03, p.7): I can help John Sutcliffe with his query about the 'AG' child's Puritan spoon. Sadly he has been consulting the wrong authorities! If he looks at pages 90 & 91 of my 'West Country Silver Spoons and their makers' he will find that this mark pertains, beyond any shadow of doubt, to Arthur Glanville of Exeter as it has been noted with the Town mark.

If Mr Sutcliffe likes to contact me, I can fix him up with a copy of "West Country" for much less than a copy cost at Woolley and Wallis recently (50 + add-ons).

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Tim Kent also comments: (The Finial, Apr/May'03, p.4, Unusual Duty Head on Exeter Teaspoons). The Exeter 'WP' maker's mark, circa 1800, is much more likely to be William Parsons of Exeter rather than the retailer William Pearce of Plymouth. William Parsons was married at St. Patrick's in 1792 and gained his freedom of Exeter on 10th March 1800, having been apprenticed to Richard Ferris. There can be doubt that he was working between1792 and this latter date. He was at one stage in partnership with William Welch II of Exeter, and I have a note of this joint mark. The Assay books have entries showing flatware submitted by William Parsons of Exeter. There was also a William Parsons of Plymouth Dock, submitting from 1806 onwards, and at one time on particular with Owen Fielding, but this is likely to be a different man.

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David Whitbread emails: With reference to the last issue, page 11, my spoon 'In the Manner of De Lamerie' has a similar heel to that illustrated by Richard Jonas. I cannot be sure from the photo that they are identical but it looks as if our two spoons may come from the same stable. I was glad Richard took the trouble to illustrate his spoon, as it is always useful to see comparators.

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For those members that are waiting for their back copies, please accept my apologises for the delay. I am having many problems with the photocopier and am waiting for it to be either fixed or replaced. Don't you just hate technology when it doesn't work! Ed.

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Richard Stagg comments:
What follows are some of my thoughts about lot 37 in the current (April/May '03) Club Postal Auction.

Examination of Michael's excellent photos of lot 37 and consideration of Daniel's comments led me to look at as many York marks both actual and photographic as I could. I soon realized that in spite of the many real and alleged irregularities of the York office one thing that was done well there was that the order of the punches was kept remarkably consistent.

The order was always maker, lion, duty head, leopard's head (not always present), date (sometimes left off) and finally, town mark (very very seldom used). This order applies whether the marks run from left to right, from right to left, top or bottom. Marks are always struck individually so may be upside down in relation to the rest of the assay office struck marks. With flatware marks are to be read horizontally up to about 1810 after which they run vertically till about 1839-40 when they go back to the horizontal. I suspect that the change then coincided with the introduction of Victoria's duty head.

I know of only one piece where the town mark is inside of the date and that was from the tea caddy dated 1779 used as the cover picture of Martin Gubbins book and the marks of which are shown on page 464 in the current Jackson. I suspect we can discount this as an aberration in the early days of the revived assay office.

It follows then that wheresoever lot 37 came from I do not think that it could have been marked in York as the lion is next to the date not next to the maker.

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Michael Baggott emails: Just a short email to point out that Lot 37 which is described as a salt spoon by William Vincent of York, is in fact the work of William James Veith of Halifax, Nova Scotia, circa 1830-40. I'm sure other members will have noticed this, but I would hate to think someone buying it as a York rarity only to find out later it is Canadian (not that there is anything wrong with Canadian silver).

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Ian Pickford helps in identification appeal:
'Who is WH' (The Finial, Apr/May '03, p.22). This is one of the marks of Wiliam Hannay of Paisley in Scotland. It dates from the early 19th century. See Jackson's, page 612.

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The Finial was mentioned a couple of times by the Antiques Trade Gazette (31st May 2003).

"The top selling spoon at Woolley & Wallis's sale at Salisbury, mainly it was collectors from the Silver Spoon Club of Great Britain who pushed the bidding, but in this case a specialist dealer offered the top-estimate 8000"

"There are just a few specialist dealers and, on the whole, the market is fuelled by collectors, most of whom belong to the ever-expanding Silver Spoon Club of Great Britain".

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Penrith Farmer's & Kidd Saleroom are holding a sale of silver flatware, which will include Scottish provincial, Newcastle & Exeter etc. on the 25th June 2003.

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.20. / .21.
The Finial, June/July 2003


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