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Author Topic:   tea infuser?
swarter
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iconnumber posted 01-19-2004 05:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
[19-0377]

I have had this gadget for a number of years and have yet to see another like it. I presume it is a tea infuser.

The two halves would held closed (while it is immersed) by the ring that slides over the prong on the hinged bowl cover. The total length is 6"; the closed dimensions of the infuser portion (bowl and cover) are 1 3/4" L X 1 1/4" W X 3/4" H. I think I once saw an attribution for this mark, but I cannot find the reference. Anybody know?

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Brent

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iconnumber posted 01-19-2004 11:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I should know this one, but I can't place it offhand. Certainly an interesting piece. I would wager that the STERLING stamp was added much later. There are apparently quite a few pieces of coin out there with later STERLING stamps added to make them more salable. I even saw one on a piece of old Towle silverplate with base metal showing through! Obviously a bit of a mistake.

I can't recall seeing another American tea infuser of 19th C date. Anyone else?

Thanks for sharing!

Brent

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swarter
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iconnumber posted 01-20-2004 06:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have seen spherical infusers designed to hang by a chain in a teapot (although I am not certain of their age). The capacity of this one is about that of a modern teabag, so I suspect it was intended to sit in a cup, (and thus might predate the commercial teabag).

The later addition of the STERLING mark has been suggested to me before. The color cast under good light, however, is whiter than that of coin silver (which seems to have a sllightly bluish cast), more like that of Sterling. Not knowing the maker, I have no real idea how old it is, although I agree it is probably 19th Century.

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akgdc

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iconnumber posted 01-21-2004 12:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for akgdc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Could it perhaps be an old coin teaspoon that was later adapted into a tea infusor (and the sterling mark added at that time)?

The shape of the fiddle handle is what makes me suspect this.

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Paul Lemieux

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iconnumber posted 01-21-2004 12:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wondered the same thing, akgdc.

Could we see a closeup of where the handle joins the functional end?

[This message has been edited by Paul Lemieux (edited 01-21-2004).]

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tonycooper

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iconnumber posted 01-21-2004 01:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for tonycooper     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Let's not get carried away with this being a particularly uncommon piece. Perhaps you don't come across them in sterling, but the idea of a teaspoon infuser is not uncommonly found. I've got at least three or four and I don't even look for them. The only one I could quickly find is the one pictured below. I found it quickly because it's in the box labeled "Common Plate" with some hotel silverplate.

It's marked "Simeon L. & George H. Rogers Company XII". It's also marked "AT DEC 14-15" I assume this means December 14, 1915, but I've never seen a date marked this way.


I give up. The image is up there, I can load it, but I can't seem to write it here the way this place wants it written. Those are square brackets [ ] in the FAQ, aren't they?

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wev
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iconnumber posted 01-21-2004 08:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You had an extra space between .jpg and [/img]

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Paul Lemieux

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iconnumber posted 01-21-2004 09:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have had several tea infuser spoons in sterling, but all dated to the 1890s or later. And the example Tony pictures is from 1915. The pseudohallmarks on swarter's piece seem to suggest ca 1860s manufacture, which is why some of us are wondering if perhaps the infuser section is a later addition, as is the word STERLING.

[This message has been edited by Paul Lemieux (edited 01-21-2004).]

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swarter
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iconnumber posted 01-21-2004 12:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Could we see a closeup of where the handle joins the functional end?

quote:
Could it perhaps be an old coin teaspoon that was later adapted into a tea infuser (and the sterling mark added at that time)?

I had noticed that the joining seemed rather crude, but there is a considerable amount of hand work evident, and it seemed like a lot of trouble (end expense) to have gone to if there were "ready made" examples commercially available at the time. Of course, it could have been a "special order," but I was inclined to view it more as a limited production item than as a "one off," unless it had been made by a silversmith for his own use or as a training exercise for an apprentice. Perhaps it was made as a prototype, but then would it have been made in silver?

Note that the fluting in the bowl portion is askew, implying that it may have been either swaged or hand stamped, and not "factory made" (if there were a swage, there must have been more than a one-time use for it). There is also a trimmed section of the flange along the edge of the bowl, not visible in the photograph, which seems to have been cut down to allow the fitting of the cover, which appears to have been slightly misaligned when the hinge was soldered in place. The locking pin is also soldered, as is the strip of silver on the bowl that serves a flange to overlap the lid; I count ten pieces, all soldered but the locking ring and the hinge pin. The groove in the stem where the locking pin fits shows file marks, as does the end of the stem where the bowl is attached. The holes are slightly irregular in alignment, and there is a small flange around each on the inside, both implying the holes were hand punched. I think it is safe to conclude that the infuser portion was not a later factory manufactured piece added to an earlier handle, but beyond that . . . .

Lots of questions. Few unequivocal answers.

quote:
I have had several tea infuser spoons in sterling, but all dated to the 1890s or later.

Paul -- how are your Sterling examples constructed? I imagine there are none with this much obvious piecemeal assembly.

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Paul Lemieux

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iconnumber posted 01-21-2004 01:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wonder if the infuser portion had broken off some other tea infuser spoon, and the owner had it "grafted" onto this old coin teaspoon, which could have either been part of the owner's silver, or purchased from a retailer. Or perhaps it was assembled by somebody who added his own STERLING mark, then tried to sell it. I think assembling an old coin teaspoon (not especially valuable) and a tea infuser device (possible from a broken piece) would not have been as expensive as buying a new sterling example, e.g. from Gorham or Tiffany.

I think I have sold all of my infuser spoons, but I seem to remember them being based on a teaspoon. The bowl was perforated, and then a perforated top was hinged on. I will see if I still have pictures. You can see a couple Tiffany examples in Dr. Hood's Tiffany flatware book.

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swarter
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iconnumber posted 01-21-2004 02:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What you suggest, Paul, is certainly possible, but why not repair the original one? Could it not have broken off this handle? The stem is narrower than the hole where it joins, but could have been more flared originally, as there are file marks all around.

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Paul Lemieux

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iconnumber posted 01-21-2004 02:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If my scenario were correct, I'm not sure why the original handle would not have been used. It's just my instinct that the infuser and handle are not an original union.

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swarter
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iconnumber posted 01-24-2004 01:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I suppose unless someone comes up with another example either of a separate matching infuser or an intact handled one, we will never know. My feeling is that the handle is original -- note that the stem is hollowed out to accommodate the locking prong, which makes for a very weak attachment, prone to breakage. If this were the case, they would not have been made over any significant period of time, and few would have survived intact. If we can identify the maker, I imagine we will find -- despite the pseudohallmarks -- that it was made rather late in the Century.

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