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tline3open  Colonial Williamsburg Reproductions

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Author Topic:   Colonial Williamsburg Reproductions
Brent

Posts: 1502
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 04-03-2004 09:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Hello all,

Here is what appears to be rather early Colonial Williamsburg reproduction spoon. I know that Stieff became the official supplier of silver to Colonial Williamsmsburg at some point, but this piece has no maker's mark and may predate the association with Stieff. What I find interesting is that the rattail on this piece is actually soldered on, not swaged as an authentic spoon would be. This may reflect the poor understanding of period spoon making that was prevalent in the early 20th C, or it might just be a way to "dress up" a machine made spoon. If I had to guess, I would say that this is a machine made spoon.

Does anyone have any insight into the Colonial Williamsburg silver production? I believe that some pieces were actually made there as part of the craft demonstrations; if so, how were they marked?

Brent

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FredZ

Posts: 1069
Registered: Jun 99

iconnumber posted 04-03-2004 07:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FredZ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When I visited the smiths at Williamsburg, I was asked to bring some of my early spoons so that they could officially spend time with me discussing and inspecting the spoons I had brought. I watched as they were forging a rattail spoon when I arrived and spent time with journeyman George Cloyed and Mastersmith James Curtis. It was a true delight to be taken upstairs and have discussions of techniques and spending time examining what I had brought.

The spoons made there have a swaged ratail. I was fascinated at the mote spoons they were making. The woman smith was a master piercer and her craftsmanship was supperb.

They had just finished a copy of the Garlic Family Montieth and I received a copy of the video they had produced documenting the making of the Montieth.

They mark their work with the mastersmith's mark IG for Curtis and the mark of James Craig, who's shop (The Golden Ball) they work in.

It surprizes me that the Stieff spoons are not machine pressed. Soldering involves an extra process and anneals the bowl. What makes you think that it is soldered on?

Fred

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Brent

Posts: 1502
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 04-11-2004 10:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Fred,

Thank you very much for the information; I appreciate it. The Williamsburg reproduction flatware made and marked by Stieff is definitely machine pressed. However, I am not sure if this piece was made by Stieff, or whether it predates the association, whenever that began.

The pictures can not show it, unfortunately, but there is a clear joint line across the base of the rattail. I will see if I can't get a good closeup of the area in question. There may be some technique here that I am unaware of.

Brent

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FredZ

Posts: 1069
Registered: Jun 99

iconnumber posted 04-26-2004 06:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FredZ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Brent,

If the line is crisp. It is probable that Stieff chose to cast these reproductions instead of going to the expence of having a die cut. The casting would show all the imperfections and even the crispmess of the juncture between the applied rat-tail to the bowl. The model could have been made in this fashion and not from a hand wrought model.

Fred

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middletom

Posts: 467
Registered: May 2004

iconnumber posted 05-29-2004 02:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for middletom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
to FredZ and Brent,

Several years ago I read an article about Kirk Steiff's efforts to make the Williamsburg pattern. It said that the company was well into the process of making the dies, working with very little information while trying to produce a period authentic flatware. At that point, someone located a complete set of English flatware from the proper period, and the die making operation started all over to properly reproduce the English flatware. As to the appearance of the rattail being soldered on, I cannot imagine why someone would go through that effort when a rattail could easily have been a part of the die. A few years ago, an insurance company that had a large collection of Paul Revere silver, gave the collection to the Worcester Art Museum. At the opening of the exhibit, I was presenting a demonstration of hand wrought flatware. I noticed that the display told people that Revere's spoons were made in two parts. I wasn't able to see the curator then, but spoke to him a day later and told him that they were one piece. He thought that the truncated, swaged reinforcement at the base of the bowl meant that the spoon was two part.

Well, I hope this is of interest.

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FredZ

Posts: 1069
Registered: Jun 99

iconnumber posted 05-29-2004 09:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FredZ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Tom,

Welcome to the forum. It is great to have another smith join. It was interesting to hear of the research done for the design. I have recently seen a Willamsburg Reproduction catalogue and I am certain that Stieff is using dies to manufacture the flatware. I would love to see examples of your flatware and exchange information on smithing with you. The thought that drops and rattails were soldered on is more common than many think. When I visited the Heritage Collection at Old Dearfield, Mass, I saw a few of the spoons described at bowl with attached handle. I made a valiant effort to explain the process of using a swage to form the drop but I am not certain it was believed. The silversmith shop is filled with 18th century tools and was told that a smith used to do demonstrations there years ago.

Fred

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middletom

Posts: 467
Registered: May 2004

iconnumber posted 05-30-2004 09:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for middletom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Fred,

Thanks for the welcome. We have spoken, this is Geoff Blake from ONC. One of the others at ONC has a book about silversmithing which also says that the colonial spoons were made in two pieces. If they would give the matter thought, they would realize that in order to hammer the bowl out, the smith would need something to hold onto, so why not the handle of the piece? I didn't know Deerfield had an equipped silver shop. Too bad they no longer have a craftsman to demonstrate. We do a couple demonstrations a year at the Paul Revere house in Boston. Always a big hit with the crowd.

I don't know how frequently I can participate here, but it is good to occasionally drop in.

Take care.

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FredZ

Posts: 1069
Registered: Jun 99

iconnumber posted 06-01-2004 07:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FredZ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Geoff,

So pleased to see you here! I recently acquired a teaspoon made by you for Cartier. I use it often when eating yogurt and ice-cream. I look forward to your imput here on the forum and feel free to email me directly. I have advance in my search for the skill to make flatware.

Fred

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middletom

Posts: 467
Registered: May 2004

iconnumber posted 06-05-2004 08:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for middletom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Fred,

I don't know if this is the proper place to ask what your email address is. I have some updates on something you had asked me for and I would very much like to see your latest flatware work.

Geoff

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11202
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 06-05-2004 09:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

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Brent

Posts: 1502
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 06-16-2004 10:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you for your input. I have since sold the spoon in question, but I do think it likely predates the Stieff WILLIAMSBURG QUEEN ANNE pattern introduced in 1972. The Stieff pattern is completely die struck, and I don't think this one is.

I believe I had a thread about the myth of two-part spoon construction a couple of years ago. It is clear that the idea was prevalent among Arts & Crafts silversmiths of the early 20th C, since many A&C spoons do have bowls soldered to the handle. I find it ironic that the drop, which was originally intended to strengthen the bowl juncture, could be misinterpreted so badly as to lead silversmiths to use weak solder joints.

Henry Kaufmann's book THE COLONIAL SILVERSMITH, published in 1972(?), seems to have been the first major publication to debunk the two-part spoon construction myth. It is surprising how long it has persisted since then!

Brent

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swarter
Moderator

Posts: 2920
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 06-16-2004 11:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Henry Kaufmann's book THE COLONIAL SILVERSMITH, published in 1972(?), seems to have been the first major publication to debunk the two-part spoon construction myth. It is surprising how long it has persisted since then!

Brent:
Perhaps this is the link you refer to (Shouldered OEP (again!) in which these points (among other things) were discussed,

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June Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 1162
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 02-19-2017 10:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for June Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We picked up this Colonial Williamsburg sucket fork by Stieff down in Miami. It has both the Stieff and Colonial Williamsburg marks. Stieff was licensed to produce sterling silverware for Colonial Williamsburg in 1939 and a catalog of the reproduction was published in 1940. For more info on this, check out the The Stieff Company website. Per this site, it looks like Brent's piece that started this thread is pre-1949.

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