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tline3open  Maker? Sterling 'Youth Set' ca 1878

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Author Topic:   Maker? Sterling 'Youth Set' ca 1878
bonniegaia

Posts: 48
Registered: Jul 2008

iconnumber posted 07-15-2008 07:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bonniegaia     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
[26-1694]

I would like to learn the *maker* of this sterling set for a young person. It is only slightly smaller than adult utensils, not a 'baby' set. "Dot" of the monogram is Dot Townsend Steere (1873-1887) who died at age 14 of TB, the sister of my great-grandmother. This set has no markings but STERLING. One of the motifs (three leaves) is a bit like one on the Knowles & Ladd coin silver that is pictured elsewhere on this page and which belonged to this girl's mother. I would very much like to know the maker and pattern. The time period might be ca 1878-1880 based on the short life of the owner? I don't know who called this a 'youth set', perhaps my grandmother.

Is that the appropriate term for such?

Thank you.

I just added a better close-up, in hopes someone can identify this. Something I didn't notice until seeing the enlargement: the monogram appears to have periods after the D. and O of 'DOT.' Odd.

Does anyone know of full size silver anything like this ca 1878-80?
Thank you

--Bonnie

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Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 07-15-2008 07:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Bonnie.


And tell us about yourself and your interest in silver.

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bonniegaia

Posts: 48
Registered: Jul 2008

iconnumber posted 07-15-2008 07:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bonniegaia     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Dale. Thank you for writing.

You asked my interest in silver. I am the family historian and with the recent death of my mother, am now the custodian of *everything.* Realized if I didn't write things down and label them and get the family history into some kind of form (as opposed to website) that all would be lost to future generations.

First step is to inform my children what is 'family' and should be kept, along with the stories behind the items. I have never paid any attention to silver, but to use it, and found I knew nothing about the few pieces that are monogramed and which surely should stay in the family.

I noticed, googling online, that a couple of the maker marks are not well known (or perhaps unimportant?) so I thought silver people might have some interest in seeing them and helping me out with some background.

I am enjoying learning. Hope this tiny collection is of some interest to others who are more knowledgeable.

Thanks,
Bonnie

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dragonflywink

Posts: 975
Registered: Dec 2002

iconnumber posted 07-16-2008 04:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dragonflywink     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
J.B. & S.M. Knowles Clinton pattern, Turner shows it as introduced in 1876.

~Cheryl

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bonniegaia

Posts: 48
Registered: Jul 2008

iconnumber posted 07-18-2008 01:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bonniegaia     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Cheryl--
Wow, you found it! I must've forgotten to switch on notification of a forum response. I just added the close-up shot, unaware you had already id-ed it.

This mom (of the early Mayflower pattern by Knowles & Ladd) was known to visit Providence, so that makes sense. This pattern is not as nice (to my eye anyway - a novice) as the Knowles & Ladd as it seems less 'sculptural'-- if that makes sense. It is 'flatter' in relief -- those little triangular leaves aren't as 'plump.'

BTW- I don't now see where the preference for email notice of a forum response is located. I was sure I saw it once..

Thank you.
Bonnie

[This message has been edited by bonniegaia (edited 07-18-2008).]

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bonniegaia

Posts: 48
Registered: Jul 2008

iconnumber posted 07-18-2008 02:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bonniegaia     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
New questions now that pattern was identified by Cheryl:

Can you think of a reason why the Youth Set set was **not marked**?

Does it seem odd that this set is unmarked and that the Knowles & Ladd is different from the later 'Mayflower' design when it was re-released under J.B. & S.M. Knowles?

Did silversmiths ever sell 'experimental' designs and not mark them? The set doesn't appear to have any glaring flaws to my novice eye, but I am not sure what would be considered a flaw. Would it be possible to see a photo of the full size "Clinton" pattern to see if it is exactly the same?

Apologies for asking so many darned questions. I guess now that I am *really* looking at the silver, and learning about it, it is getting more and more interesting....

I wonder if Knowles' factory and Richard and A.T. Cross' factory were anywhere near each other in Providence...? Would silversmiths and goldsmiths have belonged to any groups like guilds at that time in Providence?

Would a silversmith sell 'seconds' without a mark at a discount? or, say, to a friend-- if the Cross family knew the Knowles? [If you didn't catch it before in the discussion of the Knowles & Ladd silverware in another of my posts, the uncle of this little girl of the "Clinton" pattern Youth Set was Alonzo Townsend Cross of the A.T.Cross Pen Co, also in Providence at same time.]

--Bonnie, curious now.

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Kimo

Posts: 1597
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 07-18-2008 09:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I do not know about this particular maker but it was common for silver manufacturers to sell their silver without markings through various retailers so the retailers could add their own markings - though many retailers did not add their own markings. This manufacturer to retailer arrangement is a very common practice even today. For example, Tiffany has not made any of its own silverware for a very long time yet all of their silverware is marked Tiffany.

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bonniegaia

Posts: 48
Registered: Jul 2008

iconnumber posted 07-18-2008 10:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bonniegaia     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That's an interesting fact, Kimo. I am learning something every time I sign in here. Wonder if that also applies to Tiffany's jewelry? I must assume so.

Can someone tell me how to activate the email notification when someone responds? Is it possible to get email notification for responses to others' posts that I find particularly interesting?

Another thing about the Youth Set: the monogram bothers me. It looks a bit amateurish, doesn't it? There is too much space between the first two letters, in addition to the engraver not understanding it was a name, "Dot" and not initials D.O.T.

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jersey

Posts: 1203
Registered: Feb 2005

iconnumber posted 07-18-2008 10:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for jersey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hello bonniegaia & welcome!

As best I have been told re Tiffany is that if it says Tiffany & Co. Makers, then Tiffany themselves made it, otherwise if is/was farmed out to someone else.

Jersey

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bonniegaia

Posts: 48
Registered: Jul 2008

iconnumber posted 07-18-2008 12:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bonniegaia     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Jersey -
Thanks for the welcome and the info.
Guess my ring is 'farmed' then - only says 'Tiffany.'

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Ulysses Dietz
Moderator

Posts: 1265
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 07-18-2008 12:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Tiffany issue aside...My eyes don't see the monogram as amateurish--I think the camera has added confusion...is that a "period" between the O and T? The spacing is a bit off, but how do you start over once you've begun?

I have an English youth set of the 1850s, which I really think was a traveling set for an adult (there's a case and a place for a napkin)...and two Gorham 1890s sets that are bigger than baby sets but smaller than youth sets...given to my kids as five-year-olds.

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

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iconnumber posted 07-18-2008 01:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

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bascall

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iconnumber posted 07-18-2008 01:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bascall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For me the placement of the periods in the "D.O.T" monogram is just the style for that time, but others may know better.

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bonniegaia

Posts: 48
Registered: Jul 2008

iconnumber posted 07-18-2008 07:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bonniegaia     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ulysses, Scott, bascall - thank you for your responses.

Ulysses - I appreciate your opinion - I was indeed uncharitable towards the "DOT" engraver. I was looking at the "DOT" and comparing it to the rather exquisite "S" on the early Mayflower Knowles & Ladd. I realize now that is not fair. What I was doing was looking at enlargements on my computer screen and not at the objects themselves. The 'S' engraver had tons more space to work in, and a relatively flat surface. The monogram 'space' (there is probably a correct term?) on the Dot's youth set is a bit puffy/convex; each letter is so small that one could fit inside the bottom, rather egg-shaped swirl, of the 'S' on the bigger set. The same goes for my observation that the youth set is less 3-D in the pointy leaves which also appear as a motif (is it holly?) in the Knowles & Ladd pattern. The pointy leaves are 3-4 times bigger on the Knowles & Ladd, so, of course, that allows for that wonderful sense of dimension. I want to retract the negatives I said earlier, based on my stupid mistake in forgetting the actual dimensions of the originals. But, yes, the D and O spacing are a *little* off. It is as if the engraver were mathematically, perhaps, spacing the letters instead of visually. BTW the dimensions on the Youth Set are approx: fork 6 in, knife 7 1/4 in., spoon 5 7/8 in.

bascall - thank you for telling me that the dots in the D.O.T monogram are the style of the period.

Ulysses - you said something interesting - about having an English youth set that appears to be used as a traveling set for an adult. I wasn't certain if I was meant to read between the lines here: did that set really belong to that little girl? It did occur to me when I saw the dots in the monogram that, good grief, could there be a relative I knew nothing about with those initials?

Why do I think the set belonged to little Dot T. Steere? My grandmother said so. I know, Kimo --family lore is not always to be believed! There is, yes, some nice silver that has come down from the Steere side of the family. The silver makers working in Providence and the Steere/Cross family connection with Providence , known travel to Providence (Mrs Steere's *only* living sibling lived in Providence, her sister, the wife of Richard Cross, their son A.T. Cross of pen company)-- all reinforce the family tradition that the silver comes from the Steeres.

Mrs. Steere went bankrupt following Mr. Steere's suicide (with strycchnine -?sp-/rat poison- no less!) due to rapidly failing health conditions. I don't know how the Knowles & Ladd silver [see that post for photos] remained in the family, unless the widow was allowed to keep a few useful items. She could not have been gifted the silver after the suicide as Mr Steere took his life in 1886, and the Knowles and Ladd name is said to have changed to J.B. & S. Knowles a decade earlier.

My thought had been --looking at the DOT monogram and thinking (erroneously I now realize) the monogram looked amateurish-- that the monogram could have come not at time of purchase, but later as proof the silver belonged to Mrs. Steere's daughter Dot so as to be exempt from creditors. This is probably faulty thinking: who would be going around monograming silver while under the stress and shock of a husband's suicide, impending bankruptcy and a little girl already ill and dying of TB?

All but one of Mrs Steere's children died of TB, including my GM's mother (who died when my GM was 5) so I am convinced that my grandmother would be strongly impressed by the provenance story ("This silver youth set belonged to your Aunt Dot who died when she was 14"). Moreover, with bascall's observation that dots after letters in a monogram are the period style and don't necessarily denote initials, I think the provenance of the youth set as belonging to Dot Townsend Steere (1873-1887) is pretty good.

Kimo [having elsewhere correctly reminded that a grain of salt is advisable when dealing with family sources} -- rest assured the suicide is factual - all the newspapers were full of it at the time. No one living in the family when I started research knew. My grandmother was not yet born & was shielded from the knowledge of the nature of her grandfather's death until I went snooping around and got copies of the Inquest, etc. Did I create an uproar! Some people are still touchy about such revelations.

Scott, thank you for posting the detail monogram shot. Just curious, do you, by chance, have photos from any other examples of these two patterns -- for comparisons to Mrs. Steere's Knowles & Ladd and to this "Dot" set?

Thank you , everyone!
~Bonnie

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dragonflywink

Posts: 975
Registered: Dec 2002

iconnumber posted 07-18-2008 11:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dragonflywink     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here's a thread with some posts that you might find interesting: Need help identifying hallmarks on silver silent butler

~Cheryl


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Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 07-18-2008 11:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Marking silver is IMHO a rather haphazard operation. Kimo's suggestion that it was left blank for a retailer makes a lot of sense. Marks on silverplate and sometimes marks on silver are not about who made the item. They are about how it was sold. The general trend was for silver to be sold through local jewelers who had an established clientel and had an exclusive area franchise for particular makers. Silver destined for sale by those outside the usual silver channels was sometimes given another mark and sometimes not marked. Thus the local jeweler would sell the marked and the local general store would sell the unmarked or put their own label on. Or it could have been made on Monday and somebody just forgot to mark the pieces.

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bonniegaia

Posts: 48
Registered: Jul 2008

iconnumber posted 07-19-2008 02:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bonniegaia     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dale - thanks for the observations on the haphazardness of marking silver.

Cheryl - thanks for that link. A christening gift! I like that theory. Yes, quite possible: Mrs Steere had only one sibling (married to Cross, living in Providence). That Cross family could well have presented this gift to baby Dot Steere --maybe even as god-parents. Great theory.

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bascall

Posts: 1626
Registered: Nov 99

iconnumber posted 07-19-2008 09:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for bascall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There's a patent on the type of monogramming used for "D.O.T," but for the life of me I can't find it again. The style is not my taste, and it must have put a few engravers out of work.

All in all you've posed some interesting questions. Thank you!

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jersey

Posts: 1203
Registered: Feb 2005

iconnumber posted 07-19-2008 03:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jersey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Again Bonnie!

As long as it says Tiffany & Co., it's good to go. The name is the name of the game. Note: Obviously we are referring to the real, not fake marks.

Re your youth set, there are many that were and are still made as Christening sets. Though many are made in a more youth or adult size to be used later as the child grows. Take a search through the Victoria & Albert Museum site in the UK, and check out the Childrens Museum or Christening sets.

Enjoy!

Jersey

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