The majority, if not all of you have noticed that this issue is rather late in production, as it should have gone out in December. Before I start to explain myself, I wish to take this opportunity to apologise to all those that had to phone, email and write asking where there Finial has got to or to those cursing the Post Office for incompetence. As most of you know, I have an antique silver shop and in these turbulent days of commerce, I have to make hay when the sun shines and consider my livelihood and December our busiest month, thankfully, has been rather good. Also the business helps support The Finial to some degree and therefore hopefully you will all for give me.

As far as next December is concerned I have made a small change to this Finial, you may have noticed that this issue is for three months, December, January & February, the following issues will be back to normal covering two months. This will mean that the last issue of the year will be for November & December and thus avoiding this problem again. If you have any queries concerning this please do contact me.

Included with your Finial is a leaflet for the 3rd Silver Spoon Club Members' Meeting, organised by Chris Bell, giving details for the meeting, which will be held on 24th April at Swindon. I do hope many of you will be able to attend and am looking forward to seeing those of you that can, but please note numbers will be limited to the size of the conference room, so cheques need to be in as soon as possible.

Some good news for British Hallmarking, in November the proposed European Precious Metals Directive has been voted down by members of the European Commission. If this proposal, by Italy, had succeeded it would have meant the loss of compulsory hallmarking by an Assay Office, which would have left Europe open for abuse by unscrupulous silver & gold manufacturers offering a lower standard of goods and also denying future generations of pleasure trying to decipher a hallmark.

I wish you all a very Healthy, Happy & Prosperous New Year and that Father Christmas brought you that spoon of your dreams.



An Unusual London Tablespoon from 1781

By Ian McAlpine M.A.

It is widely known that stub-marking of large London flatware began during the assay year 1781 when the date letter 'F' was in use. Flatware marked early in this assay year has separate punch- marks and later examples have a single stub-mark reading date letter 'F', lion passant guardant, crowned leopard's head reading from bowl to pip. On both types of mark for this year the shield containing the standard mark has a wavy base.

Recently however I acquired a 1781 Hanoverian pattern stub-marked London tablespoon with two interesting peculiarities. Although it was top-marked as one would expect, the hallmark was on the front of the handle rather than on the back. Flatware marked in this way does of course turn up occasionally, usually for later dates than this.

The marks were arranged in the usual order and were of the usual size for large flatware of this period. However, it was notable that the shield containing the standard mark had a flattish curved base rather than the usual wavy one.

Have other instances of this mark been noted on large London flatware from the early 1780's?


The Finial, December/January/February 2003/04

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