SMP Logo
SM Publications
Silver Salon Forums - The premier site for discussing Silver.
SMP | Silver Salon Forums | SSF - Guidelines | SSF - FAQ | Silver Sales

How to Post Photos

Want to be a Moderator?
customtitle open  SMP Silver Salon Forums
tlineopen  20th/21st Century Silversmiths
tline3open  Handmade Flatware Question

Post New Topic  Post A Reply
profile | register | preferences | faq | search

ForumFriend SSFFriend: Email This Page to Someone! next newest topic | next oldest topic
Author Topic:   Handmade Flatware Question
asheland

Posts: 563
Registered: Nov 2003

iconnumber posted 11-23-2004 12:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have seen on some of the older handmade spoons a line on the back of the stem and understand that it is a "fold" from the silversmith hammering the stem from the side to thicken it. Does this always happen? And what causes this to happen?

IP: Logged

FredZ

Posts: 1066
Registered: Jun 99

iconnumber posted 11-23-2004 02:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FredZ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The thickening can cause a "dogbone" cross section in the handle if you are not careful.

The sides are brought in at the neck of the spoon by supporting the spoon blank on edge and then striking a blow with a hammer over the anvil. This compresses the metal. The compression is uneven and the metal will thicken more on the edge than in the middle. The smith then needs to even the metal out by rotating the blank 90 degrees and reducing the thickness of the edges. If he does not, the edges of the metal can roll over and form the seam you speak of.

Creating this seam is considered a flaw by the craftsman. If it does occur during forging it can be filed off thinning the metal.

Fred

IP: Logged

middletom

Posts: 467
Registered: May 2004

iconnumber posted 11-26-2004 10:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for middletom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
During my training, I was told that I would find hammering the shank or stem of the handle without getting the fold crack would be one of the hardest things and that automatically not getting that fold would be one of the last aspects that I would achieve. Indeed it was true, for I found that of all the things to learn, being able to depend that all pieces would hammer out smoothly was about the last.

I clearly recall the day I made a batch of a dozen teaspoons (the size I had the most crack trouble with) and I realized that they had all gone to completion without my needing to remove any cracks. I had kept them out during the hammering. As Fred said, the trick is to close in the silver for thickness without allowing the side compression to go too far before the front/back faces are smoothed out.

IP: Logged

asheland

Posts: 563
Registered: Nov 2003

iconnumber posted 11-27-2004 07:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Fred and Middletom for the replies.

I collect handmade sterling flatware, whether it be 200 year old Georgian, early 20th century Arts & Crafts, And even seek the "new" stuff, like ONC. If a piece were to be made with one of these folds, Is it always visible? Is there some way to know for sure whether or not they are present? Is this something collectors should be on the lookout for?

Thanks again,
asheland

IP: Logged

middletom

Posts: 467
Registered: May 2004

iconnumber posted 11-27-2004 11:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for middletom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Asheland, Often, if a fold or crack has occured in the making of a piece, the smith can file it out, providing it is not too deep. Also, the stamping may be struck along the line of the fold to try to hide it. The fold would, I guess, be most visible if the piece of silver had become tarnished and the surface, only, polished. That would make the tarnished fold stand out.
Generally, I suppose, it could be said that the fold in evidence on a piece of silver is a sign that the piece was made by a less than thoroughly skilled silversmith. Personally, I would not want to buy such a piece unless it had some particular sentimental or historic value.

IP: Logged

agleopar

Posts: 720
Registered: Jun 2004

iconnumber posted 11-27-2004 10:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for agleopar     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Asheland, thankyou for asking this question, as I have enjoyed and learned from FredZ and middletoms replies. I had the pleasure of supplementing my holloware training by walking down the road and visiting father/son spoon makers, who were kind enough to give me a few hours of their expertise. After three visits I had enough basics to have made the occasional spoon over the years... and yes the fold crack (thanks for a name!) can still occasionally present itself, especially if I rush.

One question I have always wondered is the English vs. US method of making spoons. Namely that the English start with a thicker billet and work it hot to start. Since the English influenced early US smithing why don't contempoary US smiths hot forge. The only reason I can guess at is that Scandinavian smiths forge cold and were the contemporary (1930's-60's influence here?

Does anyone have an opinion on hot vs. cold forging?

IP: Logged

asheland

Posts: 563
Registered: Nov 2003

iconnumber posted 11-28-2004 08:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks to everyone for all the replies.

As for hot vs. cold forging, maybe they use cold because it is easier to deal with (they can grab the item, etc.) To be honest, I did not know they hammered the items while hot. What I know about the subject I read in the book "The Colonial Silversmith: His Techniques & His Products" By Henry Kauffman. Very good book, I might add. I have found the process absolutely fascinating. As far as I knew, the English made their flatware the same way. It is only recently that I learned of the "folds" in the flatware. I now can remember seeing lines in pieces that I have seen in the past, and wondering what it was. Now it makes sense. Luckily, none of my pieces show this. And I'll be sure to look for this, now.

asheland

IP: Logged

middletom

Posts: 467
Registered: May 2004

iconnumber posted 11-30-2004 06:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for middletom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Agleopar,

Where was it that you had such access to two flatware makers. You were very lucky. I was not aware that the English used a different method from the one used here. Reynolds Senior, son of the founder of ONC, told me that when he went to work with his uncle, Porter Blancherd, in the thirties, Porter was doing all his hammering hot. His theory was that he would be able to speed up his production. Reynolds said that he could see no advantage to that method and the fact of having to hold the piece with tongs made hammering less precise. I agreed with Reynolds that cold is better, for the sake of greater precision. We hammer the first couple steps of soup and punch ladles hot for the speed of initial stock moving. From there on they are done cold.

What is your source for the information that the English hammer hot?

IP: Logged

FredZ

Posts: 1066
Registered: Jun 99

iconnumber posted 11-30-2004 10:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FredZ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Geoff,
A Thames & Hudson publication titled Silversmithing and an English Craft article show a well known smith hot forging spoons with swaged ratails. His tongs were short. Perhaps the length of these tongs help with precision and control of the blows. I agree with you that hand holding the spoon is easier than forging hot with tongs. I suppose it is a matter of practice and patience to use either method.
Fred

IP: Logged

nihontochicken

Posts: 289
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 11-30-2004 10:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nihontochicken     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You might take a look at the 6/13/2004 entry on the American Coin Silver board, "Old Hanoverian Tsp. or ???".

The pic there shows a possible stem forming fold on the underside of what appears to be a mid-18th century American spoon (though there were also many other, smaller folds present, possibly from an improperly formed sheet from which the spoon was begun). (Note: replies to original post are many and lengthy, and got off into peripheral considerations- main value here is in the photo.)

IP: Logged

agleopar

Posts: 720
Registered: Jun 2004

iconnumber posted 12-01-2004 01:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for agleopar     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Firstly to asheland and nihotochicken, I appologies for sending this off on a tangent... Maybe Scott would want a new thread started??

And nihontochicken the Hanovarian spoons show a true "fold crack", which gives me a little wiggle room to say my worst spoons only have a "shadow" (my word) crack, that is the physical crack has been hammered or filedout but a delicate line of fire scale or oxide is still visible (something I see on some old spoons).

Middletom, yes I was very lucky, and James Potter & Son were around the coner from Clerkenwell Rd. on St. james St.(Clerkenwell, London). They have since moved, I will get an address. At the time they made a dozen patterns, rat tail threaded, beaded etc. They were hot forging 2/3rds of the spoon and cold forging the rest. they could do 8 table spoons finished in a day...

I think that C.J.Vander (who may have supplied Robinsons, if my memory is right) also foged hot.

The main diffrence I see in US vs. GB spoon making is that Yanks start with a thinner, wider, longer blank , Brits use thicker, narrower, shorter (please no jokes) and therefor the English method spends more time spreading the bowl but less necking in the handle and since it is done hot it all goes fairly fast.

The tongs are shorter than a blacksmiths and yes once used to manipulating them it becomes second nature.

A pity two full time spoon makers from across the pond can't have a race?

I do have a question, how do US smiths control the dogbone effect eficiently on such a wide, thin blank.

Also any ideas on the Scaninavian angle, could Porter Blanchards roots have been an English training?

Many thanks FredZ and all.

IP: Logged

FredZ

Posts: 1066
Registered: Jun 99

iconnumber posted 12-01-2004 03:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FredZ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I spent a day with an industrial arts instructor who had learned to make flatware from John Pontus Petterson of Chicago. He worked with Robert Jarvie. I believe he was Scandinavian training. Petterson taught my friend to first chamfer the edges of the billet before he began the necking in of the handle. He felt that this helped to reduce the chance of folding the metal on itself.

Fred

IP: Logged

agleopar

Posts: 720
Registered: Jun 2004

iconnumber posted 12-02-2004 07:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for agleopar     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Chamfering makes sence and I was shown to knock back the corners of the billet that are at the spoon tip end, something that was supposed to stop spreading of the tip end so less removal and shaping was needed at the filing stage.

Was your friend Bill Fredrick, a great smith in chicago? I did not know he also made spoons as well as all the other wonderful work...

IP: Logged

FredZ

Posts: 1066
Registered: Jun 99

iconnumber posted 12-02-2004 10:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for FredZ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My friends name is Dewey Barich. He past away two years ago at the age of 90. He had hosted Peterson at the school he taught at and Mr. Peterson taught him how to make the Neptune pattern and gave him rights to make it for his use. Before he died, Dewey completed place settings for each of his children. I began taping interviews with Dewey just before he died and never was able to complete the interviews.

William Frederick is a great resource for silversmithing. I believe he acquired some of the tools used a Kalo in Chicago. I just saw a fish slice he forged at the Society of American Silversmiths website. He was one of the yearly winners of The Hans Christensen Award. There is a nice biography of Frederick at the site.

Fred

[This message has been edited by FredZ (edited 12-08-2004).]

IP: Logged

middletom

Posts: 467
Registered: May 2004

iconnumber posted 12-03-2004 05:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for middletom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Agleopar,

Your mention of C.J.Vander as the maker of James Robinson silver is true from the information that I have. At ONC we did some business with the Barrowcliff firm from England (back in the eighties) and two brothers of that family visited us. They were familiar with the methods of Vander and they told us that the method of forging was with heavier stock and the pieces were forged part of the way, then placed into dies that were compressed in a large screw press that was hand operated. The Barrowcliffs told us that we do much more hand work than goes into the Robinson silver.

An across the pond competition would be interesting, but one or the other of us would have to travel.

Keeping the fold out of the silver has to do mostly with experience of how to strike the silver and when. Our silver is in strips of different widths, shear cut, and I find that the cutting imparts a slight curve to the cross section of the strip. When the silver is forged on the edge, it tends to fold toward that underside of the curve. Therefore, we know where to keep an eye out for folding.

I don't know why Americans use wider, flatter stock than English. Visitors afew years ago from an art school were surprised to see we used flat stock as their teacher had them make flatware from round bar. They quickly realized that the flat stock solved a lot of problems.

I made some place spoons the other day from 7/8 inch wide stock and the handle shanks were hammered down to about 1/4 inch. By not allowing any fold to really get started, and annealing well, the silver goes to shape without any problem.

IP: Logged

agleopar

Posts: 720
Registered: Jun 2004

iconnumber posted 12-06-2004 04:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for agleopar     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
ashland, FredZ and middletom, thanks for this thread and the insights on spoon forging, someday lets meet over a tree stump and bash a few.

IP: Logged

asheland

Posts: 563
Registered: Nov 2003

iconnumber posted 12-07-2004 08:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That sounds good. Agleopar, do you collect handwrought flatware?
Thanks for all the replies, it's been interesting!

asheland

[This message has been edited by asheland (edited 10-28-2005).]

IP: Logged

asheland

Posts: 563
Registered: Nov 2003

iconnumber posted 12-09-2004 04:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I believe I have found an example...


Am I correct? Why does it not go all the way across?

IP: Logged

FredZ

Posts: 1066
Registered: Jun 99

iconnumber posted 12-09-2004 09:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FredZ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I suspect the stamping of the hallmarks caused the split to be exposed. The one spot where it does not show is perhaps a result of burnishing or the luck of the draw. It is possible to burnish the metal so that it appears to be without seam.

Most examples I have are not so drastic.

Fred

IP: Logged

middletom

Posts: 467
Registered: May 2004

iconnumber posted 12-10-2004 06:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for middletom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Asheland, that is a humdinger of a crack. When I started out, I occasionally had a crack like that, but once the pieces were complete, Cap Dow, the forman, would take them and chop them up for the scrap barrel. We wouldn't sell anything that was cracked like that. Then I'd have to start over and try again. That piece has English marks and I'm surprised such a poor piece would be sold because of their standards.

IP: Logged

agleopar

Posts: 720
Registered: Jun 2004

iconnumber posted 12-11-2004 04:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for agleopar     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Oh yes, a good one, perhaps in 1766 an enterprise like the Chawners were not too particular about production, especially to a price. It seems to me only the highest work (most expensive) was finished front and back fit for a king. If you turn over your average Georgian piece of holloware it has all sorts of lumpy solder and a low level of finish.

The judgement of work was probably only to a standard of expertise that was not to critical beyond how the piece looked on the table. The Goldsmiths company stopped being an arbiter of beauty long before this century, which meant anybody, regardless of skill could register a mark. Ironically English work today is, generally, to a pretty high standard of finish, the Georgians would have killed for our machines.

The crack is interrupted because the marks set it down lower than the surrounding handle and when it came back from the Hall (or if the assay master marked it in the shop) it was then given a final hammering to "set" the marks and then filed up, some of the raised parts got filed or sanded off.

asheland, I can not call myself a collector... a draw full of coin spoons bought cheap because they are dented and torn does not qualify me (I am not sure the Chawner above is right)... I do love the things and if time and budget allowed I'd buy handsome spoons like yours.

By the way I stumbled on a good description of making coin spoons in 1848. Rainwater, 4th+5th, O.D.Seymour entry.

IP: Logged

All times are ET

next newest topic | next oldest topic

Administrative Options: Close Topic | Archive/Move | Delete Topic
Post New Topic  Post A Reply
Hop to:

poweredby
Ultimate Bulletin Board 5.46a


1. Public Silver Forums (open Free membership) - anyone with a valid e-mail address may register. Once you have received your Silver Salon Forum password, and then if you abide by the Silver Salon Forum Guidelines, you may start a thread or post a reply in the New Members' Forum. New Members who show a continued willingness to participate, to completely read and abide by the Guidelines will be allowed to post to the Member Public Forums.
Click here to Register for a Free password

2. Private Silver Salon Forums (invitational or $ donation membership) - The Private Silver Salon Forums require registration and special authorization to view, search, start a thread or to post a reply. Special authorization can be obtained in one of several ways: by Invitation; Annual $ Donation; or via Special Limited Membership. For more details click here (under development).

3. Administrative/Special Private Forums (special membership required) - These forums are reserved for special subjects or administrative discussion. These forums are not open to the public and require special authorization to view or post.


| Home | Order | The Guide to Evaluating Gold & Silver Objects | The Book of Silver | Chat room
| Update BOS Registration | Silver Library | For Sale | Our Wants List | Silver Dealers | Speakers Bureau |
| Silversmiths | How to set a table | Shows | SMP | Silver News |
copyright © 1993 - 2017 SM Publications
All Rights Reserved.
Legal & Privacy Notices