Feedback


David Whitbread writes: I am glad Mark Nevard has had fun with his new purchase ('Andrew Archer', The Finial, Dec-Feb, 2003/4, page 19). With both him and Christopher Meade lining up in favour of Andrew Archer as the owner of the "A, pellet, upright stroke" mark, I guess I should accept this as the most likely attribution. I had previously expressed some reservation simply because of the pellet between the two letters but I could not come up with any better suggestion. There is at least one precedent for a pellet between the letters of a New Standard mark: Thomas Allen (Grimwade 52). This might explain why he was suggested as the possible maker of one of my spoons when I acquired it, the assumption being that he had a version of his mark that omitted the crown above the letters. I suppose it is too much to hope that some member has an example of the mark where the right hand edge of the second letter has not disappeared so that the reasoning of Mark and Christopher can finally be confirmed. Incidentally, I have had another close look at the two examples of the mark (on a Dognose and a Hanoverian spoon, both of 1708) that I originally illustrated and I am as certain as I can be that they were made by the same punch. The apparent difference in the placing of the pellet that Mark noticed is perhaps the result of my bad photography and the way light is caught by different degrees of wear.
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While we are on the topic of Andrew Archer, our Editor and Nick Buxton wondered whether anyone had a mote spoon by him (also in the last issue, page 14). Well, I have a rattail example that I think is his, though a lion passant accompanies the AR mark and the outline of the punch has been a bit distorted by the reshaping of the stem after striking. The combination of New Standard maker's mark and lion passant is not unknown and may well simply mean that a wrong punch was used in error. Anyhow, I illustrate the mote spoon in question though I am not sure it will throw any light on a possible link with James Wilks. I shall steel myself for possible further feedback that might reveal I have yet again failed to interpret marks properly!


If when my photograph is reproduced anyone thinks they have spotted a pellet between the A and the R, I should point out that it is actually the end of the bar at the bottom of the R's upright, pushed a little out of position by the distortion I have mentioned. However, the pellet in the marks on the 1708 spoons is very definitely a pellet.

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Walter Brown adds a minor comment: Following Ian McAlpine's query at the end of his article "An unusual London Tablespoon from 1781" in the last Finial, page 3, I have looked at my three top-marked 1781 tablespoons. All have the marks on the back of the handle with the punches in the standard order ('f', lion passant guardant, leopard's head reading from bowl to pip). However, two very clearly have a wavy base to the lion passant mark but the third appears to have a flattish curved base. I deliberately say, "appears", since I suspect that it may in fact be a wavy base, which has been distorted by possible reworking after assay. This was of course common with bottom marking and, whilst less likely with top marking is, I think, still possible (on this particular spoon the base of the letter 'f' is also somewhat distorted).
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Richard Stagg responds to the articles about Tablespoons by David Whitbread (Finial, Dec/Jan/Feb'2003/4, pp12-13) and David McKinley (Finial, Aug/Sep'03, pp 16-17). I have looked through my smallish collection of tablespoons and like David Whitbread I am not convinced that there is much of a demarcation between sizes though there certainly is a marked range in them. They range in date from 1715 to 1847; but the majority are George III & IV, mainly provincial, and split in style, about 50% Old English, 25% Hanoverian and 25% Fiddle pattern.

Two thoughts though, first, has anyone got matching sets of differently sized spoons that could act as a determinant? Secondly, do we have any evidence or knowledge of how these 'table' spoons were actually used as feeding implements? I have a memory of tablespoons being used in some officers' messes for soup back in the 1960's and am rapidly understanding why the modem soup spoon was introduced.

It was trying to follow the second line of thought above that led me to measure the width of my spoons. I found quite a variation and one that did not necessarily correlate with their respective lengths. Trying to measure their widths in fractions of an inch rapidly turned into a mug's game so I turned to millimetres though I have kept to inches for the lengths.

My base line is the width of a 1960's Mappin & Webb soup spoon at 47.5mm. At one extreme is a William IV, Liverpool (Chester 1833) fiddle at 9in x 50mm. At the other, length does not correlate too well - a London 1718 Hanoverian at 7.75in x 4lmm and another London 1773 O.E at 8.75in x 41 mm. This latter really does have a very elegant look to it. Yet there is another extreme with a Plymouth (Exeter 1783) Old English at 7.5in x 44mm which looks rather plump. If you average them out the result is 8.39in x 44.8mm, for what that is worth.
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Derek Fry writes in: With reference to your piece with Nicholas Buxton (The Finial, Dec/Jan/Feb 2003/4, pages 14/15) - the one and only mote spoon in my collection is by Andrew Archer! My spoon is 140 mm long and weighs 5.1 g and was sold to me as "c1710 - cl720". As you will see from the enclosed pictures:


1. The A of the maker's mark is half missing but the surround is oval as in Grimwade No 84, the only AR with such a surround.
2. The Lions Head Erased for Britannia Standard is rather rubbed and distorted.
3. Several of the piercings are very similar if not identical to those on the Spoon in your Fig. 4 and, to a lesser extent, your Fig. 7.


Might the latter constitute sufficient characteristics in common between Archer and Wilks to support you opinion that the latter was most likely apprenticed to the former? (Thank you very much Derek, the matching characteristics are certainly strong indeed, this does help to strengthen my belief of the apprenticeship - Ed.)
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Also a request to those members attending the meeting in April, if you are willing, could you bring any Derby Patent spoons that you own so that I may photograph them, many thanks Derek.

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Simon Moore emails with all good wishes: Avian ambiguities! Despite their expertise in many fields I have often found that auctioneers can be amazingly uninformed when dealing with the fairly commonplace problem of identifying animals, including the separating of chickens from geese (and ostriches!!?) etc.

Wearing my 'other (natural history) hat' for the moment - I can safely affirm that the birds depicted on John's teaspoons (The Finial, Dec/Jan/Feb'03/04, pages 20/21) are all chickens, excepting Figure 1 which (as he says) is much more like a turkey. The identification characters lie in the shape of the beak, the head, the tail (especially) and the ruffled appearance of the neck. The chicken seated on the basket (love it!) is so clear that you can see its wattles. Geese are smoother feathered and have much larger bodies and flat (duck-like) beaks. As for an ostrich - even by 18th century anatomical standards and if seated, its head would be almost at the tip of the spoon bowl!

Tip: I might also add that the use of photographer's 'matting spray' or 'dulling spray' greatly enhances the detail of raised and engraved decoration on silver. I know that some people dislike it as it's a (slight) bother to remove and that museum curators throw up their hands in horror since it will destroy their carefully-applied anti-tarnish layer but it really makes a difference and avoids the harsh black and white contrast that can mask interesting detail. Some of you may have further views on this? (We do use dulling spray at times, but have found that it does not always enhance the photograph - Ed.)

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Eric Smith writes: Concerning John Sutcliffe's 'A Seasonal Topic (of Hens, Turkeys and Geese?)', from The Finial, Dec/Jan/Feb'03/04. I do agree it was difficult at the time of cataloguing such spoons. I catalogued the spoons in that sale, including the lot referenced to by John Sutcliffe, (lot 108, January 1992). The spoon was one of a lot of six by Orlando Jackson circa 1765. However, there does appear to be distinctions in the form of the birds John Sutcliffe illustrates. He poses the question; "I wonder whether the birds shown in figures 4 and 5 are really geese?" A close look at the backs of these spoons will show the chicks with rather long necks, too long for a farmyard hen. However for a goose or gosling, long enough to grub for insects etc under water. Now it is possible that the birds in question are ducks! The Victoria and Albert museum that originally had the spoons, (which were part of a collection on loan to them) thought the bird in question to be a goose (with goslings). One customer who viewed the collection considered the spoons to have swan motifs not geese or chicks! So there you are John Sutcliffe!

An afterthought: Figures two and three are surely hens? The heads appear to have combs. Whether John recalls, he probably has the catalogue. Lot 103 included a pair showing a hen on nest with chicks. One, I suggested with a chick on it's back the others with hens on nests. It might be that future cataloguers and collectors, prior to buying such spoons, visit free-range poultry farms! Perhaps armed with a tape measure to measure the bird's necks!
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Peter Payne notes, with reference to Anthony Dove's article "Double Trouble" in The Finial, Dec/Jan/Feb'2003/4. I have seen an Old English dessert spoon by J.Mckay for Edinburgh 1804 with two duty marks which are a variation of the usual. As they have a cusp at the base as well as two cusps at the sides.

In 1804 duty was increased from 1/- to 1/3 oz, so perhaps this was the reason for this unusual marking.


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David McKinley sends in 'Some Further Thoughts on Spoon Sizes': I am pleased to have provoked some response, in 'Feedback', to my findings on spoon sizes because I believe it desirable to clarify the purpose for which spoons were made, not just to avoid confusion but in the interests of historical accuracy. If new light can be thrown on anything to do with spoons who better to bring all relevant information to the fore than The Silver Spoon Club and what better forum for debate that "The Finial"?

I know this publication is read by 'the trade' and I believe that note is taken of its contents; indeed I once heard an auctioneer at a specialist spoon auction light-heartedly complain that we (the spoon club) had not decided whether certain spoons should be called dog nose or wavy end. The implication, however light-hearted, was that if this club had made a firm decision on the matter he would have been happy to adopt it.

I agree with David Whitbread that spoon sizes must have evolved over a period of time and would guess that the earliest pattern in which these differences can be easily detected is the Hanoverian although I am open to correction on this. Again I willingly defer to Mark Nevard's knowledge and experience in the matter of handle lengths and wonder if bowl capacity might not be a better yardstick? In this connection are there any historians within our ranks who can tell us when soup, as opposed to the pottage eaten by the Elizabethans, was first introduced into our diet and would thus have required a spoon specifically for its consumption?

It must be fair to say that the smallest of this larger group of spoons under consideration here, which incidentally seem to be fairly uniform, are genuine tablespoons and were for drinking soup. On this premise if the larger spoons were for serving food it is not surprising that they vary in size, as uniformity would not have been a priority.

In my original article I drew attention to an account with Paul de Lamerie in which spoons "for the Steward's table" were mentioned and had assumed, quite falsely as it turns out, that these spoons would have been serving spoons. I am now advised by Philippa Glanville that the functionaries in the Georgian dining room were there to remove emptied tureens and platters from the table and replace them with full ones and that, from these, diners served themselves. She further advised me that the Gentry did provide silver for their servant's use so that de Lamerie's spoons were for the steward's to eat with and not for serving food. Incidentally this may explain the kitchen pepper as well!

Notwithstanding this 'red herring' if it is to be agreed that it is desirable to differentiate between serving and table/soup spoons then we must also agree on where the division lies. As the smaller of the group are pretty uniform in both length and bowl capacity may I suggest that we designate these table spoons and that all larger spoons are recognised as serving spoons? I shall be interested to hear the views of fellow members on this.
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In the last issue of The Finial Ian McAlpine asks about an unusual punch outline on a top marked tablespoon and this offers an opportunity to reassure him and fellow members on the matter of fly press marks. I have examined all the press marks recorded at Goldsmiths' Hall from the first in 1760 to the end of the century and can confirm that there is no year in which alternative punch outlines were recorded so that one thing we can be sure of is that in any given year fly press marks will always look the same.

Although Ian illustrates the upper case 'F' for 1801, he dates his spoon to 1781 and this is the one year for which there are no records of spoon fly press marks because they were introduced after the beginning of the marking year. As, therefore, I cannot say categorically that there was no alternative in that year I can say that it would have been the only year in the century in which such an alternative was produced so I feel that it is unlikely.

It is, of course, possible that Ian's mark was experimental since Tony Dove has established that experimentation on the new marking did take place during the marking year 1781 and this would make it a rarity.

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.24. / .25. / .26. / .27.
The Finial, March/April 2004


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