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tline3open  Buttercup patent date marks

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Author Topic:   Buttercup patent date marks

Posts: 6
Registered: May 2000

iconnumber posted 09-04-2000 11:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for paskow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have another question concerning Buttercup. It seems that some old pieces have the 1900 patent date on the back and some don't. Why was it left off and when did this start? I am assuming that the ones with the patent date are older, but maybe that isn't the case. Do collectors care if it has the patent date or not? I would be interested in knowing. Thanks.

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Scott Martin
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Posts: 11520
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 09-05-2000 10:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
American patent dates when found on silver can be very helpful and very misleading. Manufacturers and makers didn't conform to any consistent standard of dating American silver. Often manufacturers didn't even attempt to date their goods at all.

Even when a manufacturer marked an item Pat. 1890 it may only mean that they intended to submit or expected to receive a patent but in fact never did. To know if the patent date is accurate one must do research in the patent office archives. Generally, patent dates are a guide to an approximate date of introduction.

Generally, it seems that manufacturers did a better job of dating American holloware than flatware. Often they would apply a date letter or symbol or date stamp. On flatware, most often no date marks or dating conventions relating the date of manufacture can be found. So we are left to interpreting the styling of the makers marks, the changes or flaws in the pattern, the particular purpose of the item (i.e., pie fork, round soup, etc.), old catalogues and anything else we can use to decide a date of manufacture.

Sometimes and for limited periods in the history of a flatware manufacturer (i.e., Tiffany) a consistent approach to date marking can be found. Even so, when you look at a specific item in a particular pattern there are usually many inconsistencies in the markings. Therefore, dating a particular flatware item's date of manufacture is really more an interpretive art than an exact science.

You ask "Why was it [a patent date] left off and when did this start?" Sometimes the patent date wasn't left off but rather it was added later. A patent date mark could have been a part of the die or it could have been struck after they made the item. Remember, dies break, wear out, get modified, remade, retired or reintroduced and so forth. We must factor all of this in when attempting to date a particular items age.

We have not studied the Buttercup. Maybe another buttercup collector would share with us their experiences.

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William Hood

Posts: 271
Registered: Apr 2000

iconnumber posted 09-22-2000 05:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for William Hood     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Although some pieces of Gorham's Buttercup pattern may be marked 1900, it was actually patented in 1899. But I don't know why not all pieces were marked.

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