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tlineopen  American Silver before sterling
tline3open  Pearl-handled coin knives

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Author Topic:   Pearl-handled coin knives

Posts: 1502
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 02-05-2000 06:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just today I picked up a great set of silver bladed pearl handle tea knives. They bear a single maker's mark on the blades ,S.H in a distorted rectangular surround. The mark looks like something from the late 18th -early 19th century.

I have seen a coin knife with a full name mark once; the thread on Tift & Whiting below also concerns knives like these. There seems to be plenty of English plated flatware with pearl handles, but American coin knives seem to be rare.

Does anyone have any additional information or experience with knives of this type? Are there any references that mention them? In addition, where did this pearl material come from, in large enough pieces to carve into knife handles? Could my knives be as old as they appear from the style of mark?

Any help is appreciated!

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Posts: 1502
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 10-09-2000 11:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Thanks to Scott, here is a photo of one of my knives, along with the S H mark.

A quick perusal of some books of marks turned up a Stephen Hardy, working in Portsmouth, N.H. from 1803 to 1843, as a possible maker. Hardy sold a broad range of goods, and knives like these could have been sold by him. Hardy apprenticed with Paul Revere,so he probably would have had the technical skills to make knives. On the other hand, the listed marks for Hardy put the central pellet at the bottom of the mark, like a period. The pellet in this mark is in the middle.

The recent catalog of the silver at the Museum of the City of New York suggests another possibility. The catalog lists a Samuel Hammond, who apparently operated a thriving watch and jewelry business in New York city from 1846 to 1905. Coin silver bearing the mark S. Hammond & Co. had long been attributed to Seneca Hammond of Providence, RI, circa 1807. The existence of pattern flatware (i.e. Jenny Lind) bearing the S. Hammond & Co. mark definitely point towards Samuel Hammond, rather than Seneca, at the correct attribution.

At any rate, I am leaning towards Samuel Hammond as the maker of these knives. Although the maker's mark looks much earlier, the sophistication of the construction and lack of wear point towards a more recent manufacture. In addition, the knives exhibit a monogram in Olde English script. This style of monogram did not appear on American silver until the mid-1800's.

Any thoughts?

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Posts: 4095
Registered: Apr 99

iconnumber posted 10-09-2000 02:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have a butter knife with the identical mark. It has a broad simitar blade set in a pitch-filled, 10 sided silver handle. It has a feathered script monogram; the letter style suggests the 1820s, but I am always leary of attributing a date based on such additions. I was under the impression that butter knives came to the table rather later, but I've seen no real dating of them. Your knife's form, however, could certainly be quite early -- I have an English knife that could be its twin with London hallmarks for 1806. As to the maker, my own best guess had been Hardy, but I was never really satisfied. I have not seen the Hammond mark, but the working dates seem too late to me.

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