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tline3open  Philip Syng Sr. and Philip Syng Jr.

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Author Topic:   Philip Syng Sr. and Philip Syng Jr.
akgdc

Posts: 289
Registered: Sep 2001

iconnumber posted 03-06-2004 07:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for akgdc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Do any of you have insight into the respective marks used by the two Philip Syngs, Sr. and Jr.?

Today at an antique shop I saw a tablespoon marked with PS in a heart shape, struck twice on the back of the handle near the bowl. Many of my silver books, including Goldsborough's "Silver in Maryland," attribute the mark to Philip Syng, Sr., who worked briefly in Philadelphia and then in Annapolis until his death in 1739. Belden also attributes it to Syng, Sr. But Winterthur's catalogue attributes this mark emphatically to Philip Jr., noting that the only piece attributable securely to Syng Sr. is a flagon in Christ Church, Philadelphia.

Does anyone know the lowdown on whether that mark is the father's or the son's?

The spoon has an upturned flaring handle with prominent midrib and an oval bowl with shell-form drop.

The antique shop where I found it is in Maryland, incidentally (no, I'm not saying where!)

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swarter
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Posts: 2920
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 03-07-2004 06:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As you say, the literature is equivocal, giving the heart-shaped mark to either the father, the son, or both. If by "Winterthur's catalogue" you mean Quimby's book, what he said was that there is but one documented piece (a flagon) assigned to Sr., which does not necessarily mean that there are no others attributed. Philip Sr.'s papers, owned by Winterthur, show that he made a good deal of silver; presumably the flagon is the only surviving piece actually traceable through those papers. In fact, according to Fales, there is in the same church another piece by Sr., a bowl, associated with the flagon. Quimby quotes a 1941 article in the New York Sun as the authority for the claim that the heart-shaped mark was used exclusively by the son - it is hard to conceive how such a statement could be made if there is no substantial acknowledged body of surviving work of the father by which to judge (presumably the Flagon has a different mark). That claim seems to have been either ignored or overlooked by other subsequent authors, including Belden (also a Winterthur book).

None the less, although a heart-shaped mark in American silver is very early, it is not uncommon for a son to use the mark of his father after the death of the latter. In addition, the spoon, as you describe it, sounds as if it may be too late to have been made in the 1730's. If by "oval" you mean egg-shaped rather than elliptical, the bowl shape is almost certainly too late; in addition, I should think that shell-backed bowls would also tend to be more likely to have been made later on. It is therefor quite possible that the spoon you describe could have been made by the son, rather than the father.

You could, of course, also query Winterthur about their current thinking, as the opinion of Quimby may be his own, rather than that of the curatorial staff, but it seems fairly certain that the mark was used by the son, whether or not it was ever used by the father.

If you get the spoon, post a couple of pictures so we can better judge its style and period.

I hope this helps.

[This message has been edited by swarter (edited 03-07-2004).]

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akgdc

Posts: 289
Registered: Sep 2001

iconnumber posted 03-07-2004 09:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for akgdc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Forgive my imprecision, Stuart. By "oval" I did mean elliptical, not egg-shaped, though there is considerable tip wear so it is hard to be certain.

And yes, I did mean Quimby's "American Silver at Winterthur."

My gut reaction to the spoon was that it was a circa-1750 form, though I wouldn't swear that it couldn't be from 15 years earlier. (This relates to an earlier post of mine on shell-back spoons: shell drop spoons

Your thoughts are a great help. And if I buy it I will definitely post pictures here.

Adam

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wev
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Registered: Apr 99

iconnumber posted 03-07-2004 09:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I will contact Winterthur on the morrow and see if I can get some verification one way or the other.

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akgdc

Posts: 289
Registered: Sep 2001

iconnumber posted 03-08-2004 06:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for akgdc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wev, thanks. I will wait with bated breath to hear what judgment comes down from Mt. Olympus.

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wev
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iconnumber posted 03-10-2004 05:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Word from on high informs me that both Senior and Junior used the heart mark. While the flagon and its lesser-known matching basin are both marked with the rectangle version of Senior's mark, Winterthur has quite a few recorded pieces marked with the heart and confidently attributed to Philip the Elder. Their file on Junior also has records of the heart mark, but fewer in number and early in his solo career, indicating he took over the mark of his father, then moved on to his own entirely.

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swarter
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iconnumber posted 03-10-2004 06:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That explanation seems to fit both fact and logic. It would most likely place the spoon sometime in the 1740's, but a picture would be needed to confirm.

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akgdc

Posts: 289
Registered: Sep 2001

iconnumber posted 03-11-2004 09:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for akgdc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very interesting! This certainly makes logical sense. Thanks, Wev, for investigating. I will post pictures of the spoon as soon as I can.

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