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tline3open  English coffin-ends

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Author Topic:   English coffin-ends

Posts: 1502
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 08-27-2000 05:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I had never seen an English Coffin-end spoon, until yesterday. It was a nice big platter spoon, London, 1804.

Like I mentioned in an earlier post, there are no rules in coin silver, just probabilities. The general consensus has always been that coffin-ends are uniquely American. Perhaps this was a case of reverse style movement, where an English maker emulated an American style. Then again, perhaps not?

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Registered: Apr 99

iconnumber posted 08-27-2000 06:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The origins of the coffin handle design, though generally considered America's first original design, is still open to some debate. The English variety, classed as a variation of Old English, is certainly a reverse movement - the earliest examples date to around 1800-1805, a decade later than its appearance here. Pickford shows a teaspoon of 1808 by Thomas Wallis and calls the pattern very rare. Continental versions are a murkier story. I have examples from Denmark, Holland, and Germany. None are dated or have traceable makers, though the Danish one has a very faint inscription of "Diderick Petters: dod 1789." This is, of course, no proof - inscriptions can be quite devious -- but there is a strong tradition in all the Nordic and Germanic countries of silver utensils created especially for a 'sacred' event: christening, marriage, death. Given the influx of Germans, Dutch, and Scandinavians before and after the Revolution, there's every possibility the coffin design travelled over the water, too. No matter its place of origin, Americans seemed to have taken it to heart - unlike European wares that are restricted to spoons, about the only American thing I haven't seen is a coffin handled knife. It is a wonderful pattern for studying regional variations, which, given its quite short life span, appeared and solidified in an astounding range of forms.

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