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Author Topic:   Maltese marks?
agphile

Posts: 549
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 06-02-2009 04:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for agphile     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

I believe this teaspoon to be mid 19th century Maltese because I have seen similar marks so attributed in the past. I am posting it here rather than in the British/Colonial forum because, although Malta was a British colony, it had its own silversmithing tradition that predated British control and did not have the influx of British silversmiths that was seen in other colonies. Neither the form nor the decoration of this spoon could be mistaken for British.

I don't have any reference book for Maltese silver and am wondering whether anyone can help with the marks and confirm the likely date and maker as well as whether it is indeed Maltese.

Reading from the top the marks are some sort of device slightly reminiscent of an artist's palette, a Maltese or St John's cross, a figure that may be a bird and the number 25.

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adelapt

Posts: 406
Registered: May 2003

posted 06-02-2009 04:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for adelapt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Although I don't have a reference book to hand, I believe that this is a Maltese spoon, but from the late 19thC. Will check and if someone doesn't beat me to it, will post again later.

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agphile

Posts: 549
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 06-02-2009 05:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for agphile     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, Adelapt.

Late 19th is indeed what I would have thought from the appearance of the spoon. I was suggesting "mid" purely because I think I remember similar marks being so attributed, but my memory may well be at fault.

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adelapt

Posts: 406
Registered: May 2003

posted 06-03-2009 06:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for adelapt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Checking in "The Goldsmiths of Malta and Their Marks" by Victor Denaro (1972, page 124) confirms Malta as the source, with the year identified as 1882. I could not identify the "palette" mark or the "bird" but the images are pretty small. Is it possible that the "palette" is in fact a circular punch with letters (of a name) within? The standard of the metal in this case was 11 deniers (917/1000).

[This message has been edited by adelapt (edited 06-03-2009).]

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agphile

Posts: 549
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 06-03-2009 12:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for agphile     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
adelapt

Very many thanks. Most helpful. I don't think I have the skill to take a better picture of the marks. The more I magnify the "bird" the less it looks like anything at all except an ink blot! As for the "palette", I had wondered whether the symbols round the rim were letters but if so, they are now indecipherable - it is not just my photography! But I'm very happy to settle for knowing place and date.

David

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swarter
Moderator

Posts: 2859
Registered: May 2003

posted 06-03-2009 12:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think that the "palette" mark is in fact a crude representation of a spread eagle, with its head turned to its right, and the "bird" (third is in fact a bust that resembles the poor imitations used on American silver to represent the George head on British silver.

[This message has been edited by swarter (edited 06-03-2009).]

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agphile

Posts: 549
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 06-04-2009 06:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for agphile     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The "bird" could well be a bust as Swarter suggests. I have tried to take a better picture of the marks and it does seem bust-like in the photo. However, I show alongside it another photo in different light where it perhaps looks more birdlike. It is a tiny punch and I am not sure that magnification of my inexpert pictures actually helps clarify matters. I'm afraid I basically point, click and hope and end up having to delete most of the results. I believe I can defeat even the most foolproof of cameras.



I love the spread eagle idea for the "palette" but can't see it myself. In the UK there used to be a chain of motorway restaurants (perhaps too posh a term for the establishments) called "Happy Eater" whose sign was a cartoon face in profile with a wide open mouth awaiting food, not dissimilar to the look of this punch which I suspect is actually a maker's mark of some sort with a ring of symbols or letters that are now too worn to decipher.

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agphile

Posts: 549
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 06-04-2009 06:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for agphile     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Scott

Many thanks for the prompt edit while I was still trying to work out where I had gone wrong with the picture.

David

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adelapt

Posts: 406
Registered: May 2003

posted 06-12-2009 06:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for adelapt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Agphile - in the book by Denaro (p.193) the drawn marks of one Guglielmo TONNA are shown.
Two versions, both a circular punch with "TONNA" set out radially, one mark having a period between the T and the A. I'd be pretty sure that the one with the period is your mark, with the punch worn or damaged, particularly where the T is. The mark was entered 14 May 1857. If you have access to the reference books on the subject by Jimmy Farrugia you may find more information there. Good luck.

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agphile

Posts: 549
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 06-12-2009 09:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for agphile     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Adelapt – many thanks. Good of you to go to this trouble. Tonna seems a pretty convincing attribution. If the mark was entered in 1857 and the spoon not made until 1882 there was plenty of time for the punch to acquire some damage. Wear on the spoon since 1882 won’t have helped legibility.

I’ve had the spoon for something over 20 years. Because it is my only Maltese item I have never got round to acquiring a Malta reference book but simply hoped sooner or later to come across somebody who had one. It has taken this forum to find that person, rather further away from Malta than the spoon now is! I might try a bit harder now to track down a copy of the Perrugia book.

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