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tline3open  An American Marrow Scoop

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Author Topic:   An American Marrow Scoop
Brent

Posts: 1502
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 11-19-2003 03:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Attached are pictures of a previously unrecorded American 18th C marrow scoop. This form, while relatively common in English Georgian silver, is rarely found with an American maker's mark. The mark is that attributed to Joseph Anthony, Jr., a prolific Philadelphia silversmith / importer. The line across the mark is evidence of a crack in the die. This piece likely dates to around 1790.

Philadelphia probably had the closest ties to England, fashion-wise, of any of the major colonial cities. Philadelphia merchants imported a great deal of fashionable English silver, both before and after the Revolution. As such, it is not surprising to find a marrow scoop with a Philadelphia mark.

18th C American marrow scoops are rare and desirable enough to automatically make one suspicious of fakery. It would not be difficult for a skilled silversmith to fashion a marrow scoop out of a 18th C tablespoon. This example, though, appears to be perfectly genuine. The surface patina of age is consistent over the entire piece. There is no evidence of hallmark removal or refashioning. It is just right.

Anyway, enjoy!

Brent

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swarter
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Posts: 2920
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 11-19-2003 04:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Congratulations - American made marrow scoops are indeed rare.

I think, however, the crack is in the stem, rather than the die, as a break in the die would show as a ridge, or high line, rather than an open split in the silver. Such splits can occur from overworking the silver by reshaping the stem before or after the punch was applied, or ths punch could have been applied over other erased punch marks, if the scoop was originally a british import remarked by Anthony. My guess, based upon the way the letters are broken, and the depth of the strike, that he simiply hit the die too hard with his hammer and split the silver on impact. Whatever the case, it is his mark, and he gets the credit for it.

A nice find. Thanks for sharing.

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FredZ

Posts: 1069
Registered: Jun 99

iconnumber posted 11-19-2003 05:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FredZ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree with swarter. The crack is probably from the method used in forging (narrowing) the shank of the spoon. If you are not careful, the silver will roll over on itself during the forging. (I call it dog boning). this is a way of reassuring that it was handforged. Not all spoons will show this. Most were filed to remove the overlap or forged back to prevent the overlap of the metal. If anyone is interested I can replicate the dogboning and the resultant line formed in the metal. I have several spoons that show this clearly.

Brent, did you mention that this is part of your collection? If so... Bravo!

Fred

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Brent

Posts: 1502
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 11-19-2003 10:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you both for your insights. You are right, it could not be a crack in the die, and the mark is especially deep. If you look closely you can even see traces of the rough edges where the stamp was originally cut.

I was unaware of the "dog-boning" phenomenon, and I would be interested in seeing another example, Fred.

I did wonder if the mark might have been struck over existing English hallmarks, since Anthony imported so much English silver. If so, he did an awfully good job of obliterating them. Also, based on the metal content of some other very English-looking pieces marked by Anthony, it appears that most of his products were significantly below the sterling standard.

And yes, it is in my collection now. I am still amazed and gratified.

Brent

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swarter
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Posts: 2920
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 12-01-2003 05:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Brent:

Your luck was better than mine. When I was still new to the subject, I bought a nice marrow scoop with four marks made by the same punch, which I hoped would turn out to be American. As luck would have it, it turned out to be a London "duty dodger," made to simulate true hallmarks, by closing over the top three, as was done in the short period when objects were sent for assay before being finished or marked by the silversmith (the assay office marks were then partially obscured by the finishing process, after which the maker's mark was added and so remained clear)- a process eventually abandoned. Since the maker's mark remains readable, the "dodger" silversmith could be traced and subject to fine if the object remained in England and was detected, so most objects so made may have been intended for the export market, where English made objects were valued, but not closely scrutinized.

Presumably this object has an American provenance, since I obtained it along with a couple of tablespoons by John Brevoort and several small late 18th C teaspoons, all purchased from an estate by the dealer from whom I got them. It was probably made by Samuel Jerman, who worked in London from 1764 to sometime after 1773. This mark, although unregistered, is attributed to him by Grimwade.

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FredZ

Posts: 1069
Registered: Jun 99

iconnumber posted 12-01-2003 05:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FredZ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have often noted that sometimes the hallmarks (those stamped at the hall) on flatware are sometimes distorted (flatened). This is sometimes due to additional forging of the shank by the silversmith after it returned from the assay office. The maker's mark remains full size because it was often restruck by the maker.

When the punches are struck in a narrow part of silver such as the shank of a spoon, the punches create bulges on each side of the shank and if these are forged back to the original contour of the shank they will distort the punch marks. Though this may make the hallmarks difficult to read, I do not believe it was an unlawful intent to decieve.

These distorted marks may not always indicate the work of a duty dodger.

Fred

[This message has been edited by FredZ (edited 12-01-2003).]

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swarter
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Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 12-01-2003 07:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
At one time the assay offices required that only finished work could be submitted for assay. Silversmiths protested because their decorations were sometimes marred by the hallmarks being placed over them, so for a while the assay offices allowed unfinished work to be submitted, but the final finishing done by the silversmiths often blurred or distorted the marks. It is silver from this period that the duty dodgers emulate (of course, all pieces with distorted or obliterated marks are not necessarily duty dodgers, but in the Jerman example illustrated, the maker's initials can still be discerned in each of the marks, so it can be considered a duty-dodger). Because of the damage to the true hallmarks that resulted from the post-submission finishing practices, the rules were again changed so that only finished work could be submitted.

Another possible example, this time a ladle, is shown in another thread:
TH? Eng? American????

In this example the orientation of the marks is alternated, so as to obscure the impression of their sameness without close inspection.

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Scott Martin
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Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 06-25-2018 07:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

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asheland

Posts: 856
Registered: Nov 2003

iconnumber posted 06-26-2018 12:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great thread!

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