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tline3open  Soup ladle with obliterated marks

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Author Topic:   Soup ladle with obliterated marks

Posts: 169
Registered: Jun 2004

iconnumber posted 08-13-2007 12:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for taloncrest     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

I purchased this ladle five or six years ago and have been trying to figure it out ever since.

The dealer had it marked as silverplate, but I'm not too sure about that.

What has me puzzled is that someone has taken the trouble to obliterate the marks on the back. The only readable mark is that of the retailer, C. L. Ruth. There are two other inset squares where markings used to be.

I had thought about using that liquid that was sold to make dates visible on coins, but I think I read on posts here along the way not to do that.

I may have had good luck with the retailer. According to a post on Rootsweb that cites "Notable Men of Alabama" (published in 1904), Charles Leonidas Ruth was born Jan. 17, 1841 in Shelbyville, Tenn. and learned the watchmaking trade from his father.

After the Civil War he moved to Montgomery Alabama, where he worked for other jewelers until 1873, when he established business for himself. He built up his business to become one of the largest in the South at that time.

I have easy access to "Notable Men of Alabama" at work; I mean to double check those facts.

Anyway, I was hoping someone could make out enough of the marks to help me.

I've really grown to love this ladle, and I use it as a punch ladle with a 14 inch Revere bowl. They look great together, and there is no fear of the ladle falling into the punch! It is 13 1/4 inches long, and the bowl is 4 1/4 inches long. It is monogrammed with an S.

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Posts: 845
Registered: Aug 2005

iconnumber posted 08-13-2007 10:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for FWG     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have occasionally had good luck making out obliterated marks, but those look pretty well gone. The usual explanation is that this was done when stock changed hands - not just a retailer and manufacturer, but, say, when one jeweler would buy from the stock of another.

My reading of those marks would be that you had a maker's (or retailer's) mark and a city mark obliterated. The Ruth mark (and chronology as you give it; I haven't checked it) and the style of the monogram all suggest a late-19th or even early-20th century date, and I'd guess that this might've a decades-old piece when it went through their hands. The obliteration might be related to that, although I can imagine several possible specific scenarios....

If the Ruth history is correct, it might be worthwhile taking as a starting assumption that the righthand mark was "MOBILE", and checking possible candidates for the other. It looks the right size for the (relatively common) Mobile mark, and that would at least narrow down the field of candidates.

[This message has been edited by FWG (edited 08-13-2007).]

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Posts: 2173
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 08-13-2007 12:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Caldwell lists Charles Leonidas Ruth in his book on Tennessee silversmiths. He was apprenticed to his father, George Washington Ruth in Shelbyville, Tennessee and in 1873 established his own firm in Montgomery, Alabama. Caldwell has his birth date about 1832 a little off from your reference. Robert Alan Green in his article on Alabama silversmiths in the May/June 1978 issue of Silver magazine also gives 1873 as the date he was in Montgomery. Green lists Charles as a watchmaker.

None of the other references I have on Alabama silver list C.L. Ruth.
Caldwell shows a spoon with the mark of George Washington Ruth that is very similar in style to your ladle.
Nice ladle with a very rare mark.

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Posts: 336
Registered: Jan 2005

iconnumber posted 08-13-2007 03:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for salmoned     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, the second mark seems to read 'sterling', but it may just be my imagination. The first mark - no idea.

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Posts: 169
Registered: Jun 2004

iconnumber posted 08-13-2007 06:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for taloncrest     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you all for your replies. I still have lots of homework to do. At least now I have some guidance in where to look for information. I take it that obliterated marks are not that uncommon.

I have Notable Men of Alabama in my lap right now, and it jives with the transcription I found on the Internet. I am wondering if the information it gives might have come from his son, William Hardwick Ruth, who was born in 1869, and in 1900 joined his father in partnership. The book gives a good bit of detail about W. Hardwick Ruth's education and life experiences, his name is the one in the index, and the section is headed by W. Hardwick's photograph.

One thing of interest to me that I have discovered today (from another book's entry on the son) is that Ruth's shop was located at 11 Dexter Avenue.

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Posts: 1626
Registered: Nov 99

iconnumber posted 08-13-2007 07:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bascall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Much of the information that you have mentioned about C L Ruth is also covered in the U. S. Federal Census's and Montgomery City Directories for the period he was in business there.

[This message has been edited by bascall (edited 08-13-2007).]

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Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 08-14-2007 11:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
With defaced marks, a photo copy machine that can blow up the marks works sometimes. Or scan the marks into the computer and expand them.

Sometimes defacing marks is done with seconds, things that did not quite measure up. For the Meriden Brittania Co, an arrow through the mark indicates this.

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