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tline3open  spoons made from Mexican dollars

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Author Topic:   spoons made from Mexican dollars
NY-er
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iconnumber posted 02-16-2002 08:58 PM           Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm not sure if anyone can help me...

I bought 6 silver spoons at auction. They are light and pretty and are engraved on the back: JAMES H. HART LIMITED. After that, they are engraved "sterling" and have some type of stick figure animal, an anchor and what appears to be a flower. They came with a handwritten letter describing the family history that they were handed down through a few generations. In the letter, the author says they were made from Mexican dollars and given to her in 1906 from her mother, who in turn inherited them from her grandfather. I cannot find anything on James H Hart. The spoons are in good condition, although appear to have been gently used.

I paid very little for them...is there any chance they really could be from the 1800's? I used some genealogy links on the internet and have verified the family history so the letter appears to be authentic.

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June Martin
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iconnumber posted 02-18-2002 07:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for June Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Could the stick figure animal be a lion? Could the "flower" be a "G"? If so, the spoons could be made by Gorham. If you can post a photo of the marks as well as the pattern of the spoons, we can probably provide more information.

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NY-er
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iconnumber posted 02-19-2002 09:29 PM           Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This this is a photo of the spoons from the auction but does not show the engravings on the back.

The stick figure could be a lion, and the flower is a tulip (without the stem).

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June Martin
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iconnumber posted 02-23-2002 10:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for June Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If we make the leap of faith that the "tulip" is really a "G", your spoons were most likely made by the Gorham Company of Providence, Rhode Island. Gorham has been in business since 1831 and is today one of the few remaining American sterling silver manufacturers.

It is difficult to pinpoint the pattern of your spoons because the photo provided does not show enough detail. However, stylistically, the pattern is like a number of those patented by Gorham in the late 1880's. Most of these patterns are inactive, meaning Gorham no longer produces them on a regular basis, but they could choose to produce pieces in inactive patterns anytime, based on special order or demand. What this means is that your spoons were probably made no earlier than the 1880's, but could have been made relatively recently.

James H. Hart, by the way, is probably the retailer from whom the spoons were originally purchased. Often, silver was marked by both the maker and the retailer. I am not familiar with James H. Hart, but perhaps one of our other participants can tell us where James H. Hart was located and when. This may tie in nicely to the geneological research you have done.

As to the claim of the spoons being made from Mexican dollars, it is not likely. First, the spoons are marked sterling which means that they are 925 parts out of 1000 pure silver. Currency would not typically contain that amount of pure silver. Second, Gorham was and is a major manufacturer. By the 1880's, they were producing sterling silver flatware on a very large scale and it is hard to imagine that they would "stop the presses" to make some flatware in a fairly common pattern out of someone's Mexican coins. Finally, beware of family folklore. Although sometimes it is accurate, more times than not, it is like the game of telephone. As the story passes from generation to generation, the story gets a bit twisted until it hardly resembles its original self.

Regardless, you now have six lovely sterling silver spoons to enjoy. Out of curiousity, what prompted your interest in them?

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NY-er
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iconnumber posted 02-24-2002 12:13 AM           Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you so much for your explanation. It did cross my mind that the family history could be inaccurate.
I have been buying silver teaspoons off e-bay just for my personal collection. I have no family heirlooms of my own, and the spoons seemed pretty and the accompanying letter was enchanting. I honestly didn't expect the spoons to be as nice as they were. The girls in my family often get together for "tea" and I have a collection that I keep adding to.

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June Martin
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iconnumber posted 02-24-2002 04:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for June Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We're very glad you found this site and we were able to be of some help. The "girls' tea" sounds like a great idea and silver makes it really special. Keep collecting and we look forward to seeing more of your finds in the Silver Salon Forums.

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