Feedback


David Whitbread offers comments: Many thanks for the August/September Finial. The serialisation of Piers Percival's article on Robert Amadas made the new issue all the more eagerly awaited for the resolution of the cliff-hanger at the end of part one. No prizes, perhaps, for guessing by then that he would suggest that the heart is a rebus on the name Amadas, but the wealth of detail in support of his suggestion is fascinating and, I would have thought, pretty convincing.

David McKinley's interesting article prompted me to write the enclosed piece. If others have written more definitely on the topic, or you think it too long/boring for inclusion in the Finial or if space pressures mean you would prefer to hold it over (it will appear in the next edition - Ed), you might prefer to use the following much briefer comment: David McKinley's article was interesting and plausible but I would suggest that standardisation of tablespoon sizes must have taken some time to evolve through the 18th century since a significant number of my tablespoons from the early 1700s through to the 1780s range in length between 8" and 8.25", neatly straddling the gap between the sizes he attributes to 'eating' and serving tablespoons.

John Anderson's, Odd Dessert Spoon! (page 19). Spoons with a repaired break across the hallmarks in the lower stem are not uncommon since this was a weak point, and from time to time one comes across examples where at the same time a Hanoverian handle has been replaced the other way round to create an Old English shape. One can speculate whether this was done out of ignorance or in order to make the item more fashionable, and I think it is quite entertaining to have an example of this sort of treatment - or mistreatment - of a spoon. It is part of the history. However, it is a bit naughty of an auction house to describe something as unusual (even though it may be) when it actually detracts from the value of an item. Incidentally, what John describes as the end of a teaspoon pressed into service looks to me as if it may simply be a double drop - a I smaller example is illustrated at lot 81 in the September postal auction.

Postal auction; Oar Pattern/Oar End: I am wondering whether your use of these terms to describe items in the postal auction will provoke a re-run of the correspondence I recall from some years back from those who use the term (Scottish) Oar pattern to describe fiddle without shoulders when it hails from Scotland. One of the many instances where we lack a standardised terminology, but at least confusion about what is meant should be avoided because you illustrate the items. (There were mistakes to references of Oar pattern in the postal auction; this was due to writing the given description from the vendor before looking at the spoon - Ed).

Might I suggest Lot 77 is not by 'TT' but by 'TZ' (Thomas Issod), cf. Lot 28. (Yes you may & you are correct; I give the same excuse as above - Ed)

Similarly 1726 seems early for Onslow, Lot 150, and I wonder whether the scroll end might have been added later. Of course, if I am wrong, the spoons would be all the more desirable as early examples! (You are correct again; the Onslow pattern was introduced circa 1760 and therefore could not be of the earlier date, however without doubt I feel that the spoon would have been a genuine conversion of circa 1770; and the purchaser was aware of this. - Ed.)

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Gerald Benn writes: I believe I can help John with his enquiry on page 21 of the last Finial. Apart from the maker's mark the arrangement of the 'thistle, b, thistle' is identical in every way to that for John Argo of Banff (c. 1800) as illustrated on page 87 of the recently published Directory of Scottish Provincial Silversmiths by Richard Turner. No other Banff maker used this arrangement. As far as the 'HS' is concerned I suspect it is a retailers mark possibly punched over that of John Argo. On the photos there appears to be a shallow depression where the original maker's mark could have been. I am sure others more au fait with Scottish marks will have already come to the same conclusion but just in case...........!

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Tim Anscomb emails: on page 20, Feedback, The Finial, Jun/Jul '03; David Orfeur writes that he......"Would not allow fine emery paper , Brasso, Jewellers Rouge, or Silver Dip within a metre of any of my old spoons". Whilst I wholeheartedly endorse this sentiment in principal, (having endured the polishers art??) I wonder how he and other members set about the un-invasive cleaning of a severely tarnished spoon?
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Mark Nevard respondes: From The Finial, Aug/Sep'03. Re Oliver Griffin's spoon (page 18). It is Turkish. The mark in the right hand photo is the purity standard mark and the centre photo shows the assay scrape, of course. The left hand photo appears to be the 1923 quality mark for 900 grade, but the difference between this and the 800 grade mark is very slight.

Re the mystery spoon (page 10). I feel sure that the garnets do not form part of the original decoration. The top one sits unconvincingly isolated in the only area of undecorated surface, provided universally, I suggest, for owner's crest, initials or the like, whereas the lower one ignores the engraved decoration completely and overlaps the border string lines. Where applied jewels are involved the decoration comes up to and incorporates them in the design. In this respect the gilding could have been added at the same time to mask the solder. Assuming no garnets and no gilding my impression is of a Danish or North German origin, c.1820.

Re David Mckinley's spoon sizes (page 16). I have measured many of my tablespoons, c.1740 to c.1780 and find myself out of step with David's figures. By far the greatest number of mine measure close to 8in, very few in his 7.5in to 7.75in range, none at 8.5in, but one at 9in. Regrettably, perhaps, I can find examples from 7.4 to 8.3 inches in 0.1in increments. I would conclude that a length of 8.5in upwards could qualify for a different description. Up to now I have taken the break point between tablespoons and serving spoons as 9in.
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Michael Baggott helps identifying a teaspoon; The Finial, Aug/Sep'03, page 18: The teaspoon that Mr Griffin illustrates is Ottoman; the third mark illustrated being the Tugra, the mark of the Sultan. It was used during a particular reign in a number of official capacities rather like the monarchs head in Britain (banknotes, stamps etc).

From the illustration of the mark it may be one of two Sultans either Abulhamit II who reigned from the 1st September 1876 to April 1909, or that of the man who deposed him Mehmet V whose reign was from 27th April 1909 to 3rd July 1918.

It is worth noting that this spoon displays a notable feature of Ottoman silver of this period, a preference for engine turned decoration which was not just confined to flatware, as can be seen from a service made for export to Turkey, Sothebys London 28th May 1998, Lot 201. By comparison a date of c.1876-1890 for the spoon seems most likely.
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John Gibbens emails:- Ref. Oliver Griffin's request for information (The Finial, Aug/Sep'03, p.18). Look at Tardy; International Hallmarks on silver; 2000 edition; page 407. All will be revealed - The spoon is from Turkey and made before 1923. Hope this helps.

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Ronald Grant replies; The Finial, Aug/Sep'03, page 18: You probably have many answers to this one. If not, the answer is...Turkish c.1930 first mark is the standard mark, then the assay office wriggle scrape, then the mark for Turkey, see Jan Divis Nos.1969,1970 and 1982.

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A lady member has asked if any members know of any flatware that has a 'mistletoe' theme or decoration. Any suggestions or pictures, please send them in.

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Simon Moore assists with John Anderson's Odd Dessert spoon (The Finial Aug/Sep'03, page19): Where Mr Anderson mentions the teaspoon end being pressed into service I presume that he is talking about the 'double drop', which followed on as a bowl support from the rat-tail during the period between c.1730 and 1740. The long spine down the dorsal (now ventral) handle suggests an early date and 1731 would tally. This must be an early use of the double drop.

The lower picture of the whole spoon appears to have a paler area in mid stem which could be a repair suggesting that the spoon handle has been turned around which would explain the back and front marks and which might also explain why the Leopard's head mark is only visible as a cartouche base since it would have partly melted being so close to the repair. I have seen a few spoons marked along the back before but not both ways. I am assuming that it may have been a wedding spoon for S.K and M.L but I am not expert enough in symbology to determine the meaning of the scratch marks above and below the letters nor the reason for the turn-around. Having looked in Grimwade, I would opine that I.G is most likely the mark for John Gorham since I once had a fine Hanoverian tablespoon made by him. (Simon also contributed a correct attribution for the Turkish spoon - Ed.)

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Tony Dove gives some feedback for The Finial, Aug/Sep'03: Page 4, Ian Mc Alpine, amendment 4 - The incuse duty head on London hallmarked flatware, being a separate square punch, can appear on either side of the hallmark stub and can have any orientation. I have seen many variations in London flatware marking in both 1784 and 1785 years.

Page 14, David Whitbread - One of the three spoons illustrated cannot be of London assay as this would always have had a date letter at this period. The style of the spoons, bright-cut with shoulders, seemed to have been a feature of the Exeter assay office. There is another feature of provincial offices that distinguishes small flatware (with no town mark) from London assayed items. This appears on the marks on the spoon at the bottom of page 15, where the duty has three indentations or cusps. This mark was introduced in 1797 when duty was doubled on silver (see new Jackson page 42 for details). The London assay office duty only ever had one (1804,1815) or two (1797) cusps on flatware, NEVER three. Any item with three cusps MUST therefore be provincial. Also while the London double cusps were used only with the 1797/8 date letter (b), at all the provincial offices the triple cusped duty punch appeared to be used indiscriminately from 1797 (never before) until c. 1820.

Page 19, John Anderson - I have seen a number of spoons turned this way and suspect that most of the alterations have been quite recent and created to produce a "curiosity". If it had been done in the late 18th century to bring an earlier spoon into the current fashion, a much better conversion would have been made with all the marks on the same side. The double drop on the back of the bowl would be quite in keeping with the original date of 1731.
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David McKinley: I hope this will be of use to David Whitbread. In connection with the teaspoon illustrations in David's article in the August/September issue of The Finial it is a fact that, according to the records at Goldsmiths' Hall, the only punch made for application by the London office to tea spoons at the end of the 18th century with the sterling lion in an oval outline was the double mark punch used between 1781 and 1785. In this mark the lion is preceded by the date letter not the duty head.

Again according to the records there was never any intention to mark tea spoons with the duty mark followed by the sterling lion so that if anyone of these spoons was marked in London, the punches used are not among those I have found in the records.

I hope this information will serve to reassure David that his belief that all three of his spoons were assayed at Exeter is probably correct.
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Elizabeth Sodero, a Nova Scotian club member has emailed to say that the marks for Lot 93 in the last postal auction (seen below) are those of Edwin S. Sterns of Halifax and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia and can be seen in Silversmiths and Related Craftsmen of the Atlantic Provinces by Donald C. MacKay, which maybe of interest to the purchaser. (I am sure it will; and if anyone knows of a copy of this book I would be most interested in purchasing a copy - Ed.)


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.16. / .17. / .18.
The Finial, October/November 2003


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