SMP Logo
SM Publications
Silver Salon Forums - The premier site for discussing Silver.
SMP | Silver Salon Forums | SSF - Guidelines | SSF - FAQ | Silver Sales

The Silver Salon Forums
Since 1993
Over 11,793 threads & 64,769 posts !!
American Silver before sterling Forum

Past American Coin Silver Forum topics/threads worth a look
WEV's American Silversmith's Family Tree Project Smith's Index

How to Post Photos REGISTER (click here)

customtitle open  SMP Silver Salon Forums
tlineopen  American Silver before sterling
tline3open  The end of Initial Marks?

Post New Topic  Post A Reply
profile | register | preferences | faq | search

ForumFriend SSFFriend: Email This Page to Someone! next newest topic | next oldest topic
Author Topic:   The end of Initial Marks?

Posts: 1502
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 03-02-2000 09:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One question that has been bugging me for a while is when exactly did American silversmiths switch from simple initial marks (i.e. SD, WH, etc.) to full last name or first initial and last name marks. It seems that the vast majority of silversmiths pre 1815 or so used an initial mark, while most later smiths used a name mark. Are there any theories as to why the style changed, and when the change started to occur? Certainly there are plenty of exceptions, with several famous colonial smiths like Jacob Hurd, George Hanners, and the Burts all opting to use a last or full name mark. Still, I think I am right in saying that most early smiths used an initial mark only.

What do you think? When did the initial mark pass out of fashion, and why?

IP: Logged

June Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 1223
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 03-04-2000 12:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for June Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I seem to remember reading somewhere that the shift from strictly initials to full names was due to the proliferation of smiths that had the same initials.

IP: Logged


Posts: 4095
Registered: Apr 99

iconnumber posted 03-04-2000 05:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
An excellent question. The development of punches is an important area of research that has received too little attention

I think the growth of the industry is certainly a part of the answer, but there are other factors that played a role as well. As the 19th century approached, the number of English born and trained smiths was dwindling, replaced by native born workers who had no reason to adopt or continue the London mark conventions. Certainly, after the Revolution and War of 1812, there was a positive move away from English ways as Americanism began to flourish. Some workers did retain the old style marks, some used a combination (often dependent on the size of piece marked and to signify partnerships -- Robert Wilson is an example), and some went directly to a full name punch. One important development was the growth of type founding and the availability of trained punch cutters. Before 1800, a smith, even in major cities, had to fashion a mark by his own best devices. Some were more adept at this than others; marks often appear quite crude in comparison to the quality of silversmithing evident in the pieces they are found on. By the end of the first decade of the 19th century, however, almost every city of any size had a type foundry producing the latest letterforms. I don't think it is a coincidence that one finds an extraordinary level of typographic consistency and workmanship exhibited in marks used by workers in major cities and neighboring towns at this time. I believe many smiths availed themselves of the foundry's craftsmen and had their punches cut -- and why not your whole name if you are about it? The cost - given the expected working life of a quality punch - was modest, especially considering the time and difficulty involved in making it up in house.


IP: Logged

All times are ET

next newest topic | next oldest topic

Administrative Options: Close Topic | Archive/Move | Delete Topic
Post New Topic  Post A Reply
Hop to:

Ultimate Bulletin Board 5.46a

1. Public Silver Forums (open Free membership) - anyone with a valid e-mail address may register. Once you have received your Silver Salon Forum password, and then if you abide by the Silver Salon Forum Guidelines, you may start a thread or post a reply in the New Members' Forum. New Members who show a continued willingness to participate, to completely read and abide by the Guidelines will be allowed to post to the Member Public Forums.
Click here to Register for a Free password

2. Private Silver Salon Forums (invitational or $ donation membership) - The Private Silver Salon Forums require registration and special authorization to view, search, start a thread or to post a reply. Special authorization can be obtained in one of several ways: by Invitation; Annual $ Donation; or via Special Limited Membership. For more details click here (under development).

3. Administrative/Special Private Forums (special membership required) - These forums are reserved for special subjects or administrative discussion. These forums are not open to the public and require special authorization to view or post.

| Home | Order | The Guide to Evaluating Gold & Silver Objects | The Book of Silver
| Update BOS Registration | Silver Library | For Sale | Our Wants List | Silver Dealers | Speakers Bureau |
| Silversmiths | How to set a table | Shows | SMP | Silver News |
copyright © 1993 - 2020 SM Publications
All Rights Reserved.
Legal & Privacy Notices