A Curious Tablespoon

By Michael Baggott

I hope that members may be interested in an account of a curiously marked Exeter tablespoon.

Fig. 1

The spoon (fig.1) is fully marked for Exeter 1802, but at the bottom of the stem (a very late example of bottom marking even for a provincial spoon). The maker's mark of Francis Parsons is struck alongside these marks at the base of the stem (fig.2) and again at the top (fig.3), quite separate from the other marks. This was not an aberration on the part of Parsons as the top mark clearly overstrikes a second duty mark, the bottom cusp clearly visible along with the outline of the monarch's head.

Fig. 2Fig. 3

Furthermore the engraved date on the front of the spoon is for 1773 (fig.4) and is executed in a period style. The most likely explanation seems to be that Parsons undertook to make a replacement tablespoon (lost from a set?), replicating not only the earlier engraving but the bottom marking as well. The assay office obligingly carried this out, but not before the duty mark was struck in error (well, quite correctly for the times) at the top of the stem. To remove it entirely would have defaced the engraving to the front of the stem, so it was simply concealed beneath the maker's mark.

Fig. 4

Any other suggestions for the markings or other instances of it occurring would be welcomed from members.

Richard Turner offers a note of interest on Lot 86 of the last Postal Auction.
These teaspoons with the 'crossed golf club' motif were given away for cigarette tokens back in the thirties. The reason that I know this is that my mother had a cased box of six, which she proudly got in her youthful cigarette puffing days. I am not sure of the actual type of cigarettes, but I have a vague idea that she said it was Gallaghers.

The Finial, March/April 2004

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