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tline3open  The Mysterious 925-oval Mark

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Author Topic:   The Mysterious 925-oval Mark
Paul Lemieux

Posts: 1768
Registered: Apr 2000

iconnumber posted 10-28-2003 11:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I could not seem to find this topic referenced anywhere in the Forums, and it seems like an interesting one.

Many silver collectors and dealers have encountered a mark of "925" within an oval on American silver pieces.

I have seen enough such pieces to make the following generalizations:


  • Many or most pieces are stamped with a Boston retailer's name.
  • Most pieces seem to be from the 1860s.
  • Most pieces' designs are consistent with Boston or New England origin.
  • The 925-oval mark never seems to coincide with a maker's mark.

These facts might lead to a conclusion such as: the mark was simply the maker's mark used in the 1860s by some Boston-area manufacturer.

But...


  • A small # of pieces with the 925-oval mark have been noted with J. E. Caldwell (Philadelphia) and Brown & Spaulding (Chicago) retailer marks.
  • The 925-oval mark has appeared on patterns belonging to both Durgin and Farrington & Hunnewell. (Pieces signed by these makers in those patterns have been seen, but without the 925-oval mark).
  • The aforementioned Brown & Spaulding piece was in an engine turned style pattern uncharacteristic of New England production.
  • I have seen two variations of the mark: one of "925" without an oval, one of "925" within a jagged edged oval.


So...what does this all mean?


  • It was not just one maker using this mark.
  • Perhaps the 925-oval mark was used by some guild or other association of Boston-region makers. This makes some sense given that F&H and Durgin pieces are known to bear the mark. But what about some of the anomalies? It wouldn't be surprising if Durgin and F&H pieces made their way to Philly as they were two large makers, but would their pieces from have also appeared in Chicago--in an unlikely pattern to boot? At this time, I am not sure how extensive Durgin and F&H's production was and how far west their silver was being distributed, although by the 1880s or 1890s, Durgin silver was certainly being retailed all over the country.
  • Maybe the manufacturers had nothing to do with the mark, and either it was used by an association of retailers or distributors, or by individual retailers or distributors who purchased a die of this mark to stamp pieces with. (Perhaps as a quality assurance or sign of superiority to coin silver, which was just starting to be replaced by sterling at this time. Possibly like the "English Sterling" mark found on some NY pieces from the same time.). If this was the case, though, why such a high frequency of Boston area retailers--coincidence?
  • Was this simply an alternative to the "STERLING" mark?
  • Something else entirely?

Can anybody answer or speculate on this mysterious 925-oval marking? Or provide additional observations about the pieces on which it is found?

[This message has been edited by Paul Lemieux (edited 10-28-2003).]

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Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 10-29-2003 04:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My inclination is to say that a number of these stamps were made from one mold or casting. And that they were used over time by several retailers, makers and wholesalers. Since it is not known when this was applied, it may even indicate a much later date when an antiquarian silver dealer decided to spruce up his inventory by clearly marking it. I have known of silver dealers who held on to a small stash of old marking stamps that were used judiciously over the years. Perhaps, rather than concentrating on where the pieces were made, we might look into where they were found.

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FredZ

Posts: 1069
Registered: Jun 99

iconnumber posted 10-29-2003 05:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FredZ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Paul, Can you post an image or images of the 925 mark? Is it like the the one used with 1000 or 000 mark in an oval on early 20th century American silver? We had a post with much discussion on the latter.

Fred

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Paul Lemieux

Posts: 1768
Registered: Apr 2000

iconnumber posted 10-29-2003 08:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Fred, I will look for a picture of the mark tonight. It is indeed different from the 925-1000 Arts and Crafts mark you mentioned, and was used much earlier.

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