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Author Topic:   Gorham Versailles trademark question
divinemind

Posts: 3
Registered: Feb 2010

iconnumber posted 02-06-2010 01:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for divinemind     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
[26-1955]

Hi-

I have been collecting silver for a little over a year now and I am still learning as I go. I am asking the question because I am having trouble identifying the age/approximate date of when they were made of my pieces. The reason I am asking is because I would like to add to my collection but I am not sure what era of Gorham Versailles to look for to match to my current pieces.

None of my pieces have "COPYRIGHTED" printed on them and I have been unable to locate a match on the "Lion/Anchor/G" pattern to match it to the correlating year of make.

I have gone through the search engine on this site under "Gorham Versailles" and did not find a match to my question.

Thanks in advance for your help.

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Ulysses Dietz
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Posts: 1265
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 02-06-2010 10:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A quick check on the internet, showed me that Gorham reintroduced Versailles in 1991. I am assuming that these re-strikes would be less finely detailed than the originals--and also that pieces from the late 1800s or early 1900s would have a sort of softness due to years of use that modern strikes wouldn't. But your mention of copyright is very likely the crucial detail. I own one Versailles piece--a luncheon fork, which has stamped on the back at the top of the tines: STERLING / COPYRIGHTED '88 with the lion-anchor-G marks in little shields. My guess is that this is the earliest stuff, and that the re-strikes from 1991 would have Gorham marks, but not like that. The marks would not have changed frequently--but the early/late shift would be the main clue. The mark on the image linked to your query doesn't look like a NEW one (I'm not sure) but it clearly isn't the oldest mark. They only ran the revived Versailles from 1991-1998. Gorham did use those little incuse lion-anchor-G marks, with no shields, early on--but I can't say if they used them much later on. It would make sense that Versailles sold in the, say 1920s (before the crash) might have had that sort of a mark. The copyright mark probably was used only early on, when they were fearful that Antoine Heller's great design might be knocked off by the plethora of competing silver companies.

Other ideas folks?

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Richard Kurtzman
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Posts: 759
Registered: Aug 2000

iconnumber posted 02-06-2010 12:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
divinemind, There are two articles in Silver Magazine on Versailles flatware which may be of use to you:
  • September /October 2006

  • March/April 2001.

The September /October 2006 article is succinct and should provide you with the basic information you need on how to determine the age of the pieces.

The March/April 2001 article is much more detailed and it features numerous photographs. It's very informative and it may be more information than you need, but if you're going to get serious about collecting this pattern you should read it.
Back issues are available at: silvermag.com

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nautilusjv

Posts: 249
Registered: Nov 2008

iconnumber posted 02-06-2010 02:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nautilusjv     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is one area where I always feel a little unsure especially when a pattern was made for a long time. Is it accurate to say that if a piece has a patent date on it, that it is an earlier piece? Or does that vary from manufacturer to manufacturer? Also, I like it when pieces have a retailer mark especially if you can find out when a retailer was in business. Would that be another way of getting a relative date?

For example, here are 2 pieces by Whiting in the Imperial Queen pattern. The first a berry spoon has this mark:

Also not totally visible in the pic is a retailer mark for Frank Herschede a jeweler and clock seller who opened his store in 1885.

This mark is from a meat fork in the same pattern. It has that extra mark between the Whiting mark and sterling that I was told indicates a date of 1921 or were date marks only on holloware?

Is that correct? And would it be possible to say that the berry spoon was earlier than the meat fork? Or am I way off?

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Scott Martin
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Posts: 11377
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 02-06-2010 03:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As it regards the additional mark..

From The Book of Silver (1993)

Pattern: Dresden
Manufacturer: Whiting
SIN: S0014

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Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 02-06-2010 04:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One thing to keep in mind is that the manufacturers marked things for their reasons not ours. While we are concerned about the age of an item, marks could have been used to direct production to specific markets, as is known to be the case with a number of lines. It is also the case that the makers had to produce in large quantities that would be sold over a long period of time. And that they had to commit to the bridal registry system that required a minimum 25 year availibility period.

We really don't have a very firm understanding of what the marks mean.

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divinemind

Posts: 3
Registered: Feb 2010

iconnumber posted 02-06-2010 05:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for divinemind     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am at the library now looking at "Gorham silver, 1831-1981 by Charles Carpenter" and I have been unable to locate my particular trademark.

Correct me if I am wrong, but didnt Gorham only use the "Copyrighted" stamps for a specific period of time? From my understanding, they stopped doing this when it was no longer required. That being said, my best guess is that my pieces could range from the late 1800's to about 1950. I believe in 1950 they started printing "Gorham" on the back of their pieces.

Does this sound about right?

Also, does anyone have any pictures of the newer cast Gorham Versailles(1991-1998) trademarks? I am almost certain that these pieces are not from this time frame but I am just trying to eliminate that possibility for sure to pin point a more accurate date through the process of elimination.

Thanks again for all of your replies and assistance. This is turning out to be a frustrating but very informative process.

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nautilusjv

Posts: 249
Registered: Nov 2008

iconnumber posted 02-07-2010 12:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for nautilusjv     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you Scott and Dale for your responses. I appreciate your help and insight. Though, I guess the dating issue and the extra mark on my Whiting berry spoon is still open to a degree.

Kelly

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Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 02-07-2010 01:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One thought. The use of the 'copyright' may have been used on production whenever the copyright had to be extended or renewed. Or it may indicate the introduction of new or reworked dies. Is anyone here a lawyer who could comment on the term?

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11377
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 02-07-2010 10:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
See also: Questions on Gorham Old Medici

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divinemind

Posts: 3
Registered: Feb 2010

iconnumber posted 02-07-2010 04:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for divinemind     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks again for all of the helpful replies. I really appreciate it. I am going to get a few of the Silver Magazines from silvermag.com, that have the articles on Versailles patterns. I will update the post once I have a better idea of when this mark was used.

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ahwt

Posts: 2173
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 02-07-2010 09:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am not sure I can add much to this discussion, but here are a few observations. The requirement to mark copyright on ones goods with a copyright notice stopped with the passage of the Copyright Act of 1976. It is still beneficial, but one does not lose your rights if your work is not marked initially as it can be marked later. Under the 1976 Act the creation of the work is what creates the copyright.

Back in 1888 when the Versailles pattern was introduced the requirement to mark was if effect and that is probably the reason why Gorham marked this pattern - just to preserve their copyright. I am not that familiar with sterling from the late 1800s, but from my limited knowledge I think that most manufacturers at this time used the patent laws to protect their designs.

That is, instead of asserting their rights under the copyright laws they used the patent laws to protect their designs and filed design patent applications. Some manufacturers may have decided to try both the patent and the copyright laws. If a company loses a patent suit they will normally seek other methods to protect their perceived rights and perhaps Gorham was in this position. I do not know why Gorham sometimes marked and sometimes did not mark the Versailles pattern with a copyright notice.

The copyright term was 28 years in the late 1800s and it was renewable for another 28 years. Today the term is 70 years after the death of the last author. The works of Arthur Conan Doyle are still protected by copyright in the U.S.; much to the delight of his heirs as a result of the recently successful Sherlock Holmes movie.

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denimrs

Posts: 102
Registered: Dec 2005

iconnumber posted 07-27-2010 09:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for denimrs     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In reading posts older than my time here, I came across this one and found it of particular interest because I have a small collection of Gorham Heller designed dessert spoons -- one of which is in the Versaille pattern. And, its mark is a variation of the one that started this thread. That is, it has the same lion/anchor/G mark and sterling, but also has Copyrighted '88. And, there is an additional mark, V in a circle, right below that. Here is the spoon and the mark.

None of my other Gorham pieces -- Heller designs or others' work -- has such a mark as the V. In researching online I found a few pieces of Gorham with a similar letter in a circle -- letters other than the weight letters. I thought the V might be for Versailles once I did not find it in the weight mark tables. But, the others I found online had letters that did not match their name. So, this V remains a mystery to me.

Any thoughts?

Elizabeth

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Kimo

Posts: 1597
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 07-27-2010 10:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I do not know what the V mark is, but it was not uncommon for retailers to add their own markings to indicate they were the sellers. Also, some institutions that bought silver would also add their own markings for their inventory control and to prove it belonged to them in case of theft. Perhaps it is one of these?

[This message has been edited by Kimo (edited 07-27-2010).]

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denimrs

Posts: 102
Registered: Dec 2005

iconnumber posted 07-28-2010 12:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for denimrs     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Kimo,

This V is very deeply struck and seems to have similar oxidation around it to that I see in the hallmarks above. So, my thought is that it was put there at the same time and would seem to be part of the die. Of course that means it would be seen on all such spoons made at that time from same die.

The inventory marks added by retailers that I have seen appear to be more shallow than this is -- more like they were scratched in.

I guess it could be a retailer mark but then it does not really identify the retailer completely as I would assume would be their goal. And, because it is so deeply struck/imbedded I wonder if that could even be done after the spoon was finished.

I have just purchased another Gorham piece with similar letter stamping -- not a V, however, but also in a circle. When I receive it I will post a picture of that one to see if it seems similar or not.

Elizabeth

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dragonflywink

Posts: 975
Registered: Dec 2002

iconnumber posted 07-28-2010 04:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dragonflywink     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We've had other threads on the various letters that appear on Gorham silver, some being weight codes and others not really identified. Gorham wasn't particularly consistent in their markings, so mysteries and anomalies turn up occasionally.

~Cheryl

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Richard Kurtzman
Moderator

Posts: 759
Registered: Aug 2000

iconnumber posted 07-28-2010 06:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Speaking of mysterious markings, Gorham used a variety of symbols on their late coin silver and early sterling hollowware.

As to their significance, I haven't a clue. They do turn up with some frequency though.

I've been meaning to photograph these symbols, but as of yet I have not. (At least I don't think I have.)

Has anyone out there noticed them and know what I am referring to?

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denimrs

Posts: 102
Registered: Dec 2005

iconnumber posted 08-08-2010 05:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for denimrs     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Cheryl,

Thanks for posting links to the other posts about Gorham marks and weight symbols. It is good to have all of them available in one place.

In my last post on this page I mentioned having purchased another piece of Gorham with a mark similar to the V in a circle on the Versailles spoon. Well, it has arrived and here is a picture of the mark.

This is also a dessert spoon and is the Florentine pattern. The letter is a B and looks to be same font and size and striking as the V on the Versailles. To me they both look as though they were part of the die, but I could be wrong about that.

Since B is not a letter in "Florentine", let alone the first letter, that pretty much rules out the V being for "Versailles".

In the post about Weight Symbols, there is a picture of R in a circle and mention of P in a circle. So, clearly lots of letters showed up in circles over the years. Since none are the weight symbol letters and they appear in circles rather than diamond shapes, I am assuming they are not weight symbols, but have no suggestion as to why they are there.

I put this information here not to generate more discussion on what these might represent, but to add to other posts about the various Gorham marks. Maybe sometime there will be enough of this to allow someone with a fertile mind to come up with some guesses as to what they may all mean.

Elizabeth

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