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tline3open  "PP" mark on old coin silver spoon

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Author Topic:   "PP" mark on old coin silver spoon
Polly

Posts: 1956
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 12-12-2004 10:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi, wonderful, knowledgeable people.

Today at a flea market I bought a coin silver teaspoon marked "PP." I think the shape is called Old English? It's 5 3/4 inches long, monogrammed "H+F." The handle turns down slightly, and there's a very faint ridge going down the back of the handle.

Can anyone tell me who PP was? Where did he work? How old--at least approximately--might the spoon be? Or anything else about it?

As for why I'm interested: sheer fascination. I can't believe people keep selling me beautiful, handmade silver spoons that are 150 or 200 years old for less money than coffee and a sandwich. What's the matter with people? Don't they understand that these things are pieces of history? Well, their loss is my utter delight.

(I'd love it if anyone could tell me how to explain this to my husband. He thinks I've turned into a madwoman.)

Okay, now I'm going to try to post some pictures. I hope I get it right!




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wev
Moderator

Posts: 4098
Registered: Apr 99

iconnumber posted 12-12-2004 11:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Indeed -- I've never understood people who sell such things -- where was that swapmeet again?

Welcome to the forum; the pictures are just fine. I believe that the maker is Peter Perreau, who worked c 1795 in Philadelphia, but that is a guess. I hope that Swarter will come in and confirm or set me straight on this.

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Polly

Posts: 1956
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 12-13-2004 10:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Oooooo, thanks, wev! Wouldn't it be exciting if it were from the 18th century? (Can you tell I'm new to this?)

It's not like the guy who sold it to me didn't know it was old, either. He said "that's an old coin silver spoon," and he still sold it to me for less than I routinely spend on a sandwich. And this was the expensive flea market in Manhattan, too. (Sandwiches are pricy here too.) Did he just make a mistake, or do people really not value these things?

Why would anybody pay ten times as much for some new mass-produced object, when they could stir their coffee with a spoon handmade by somebody who might have had a conversation with Ben Franklin?

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swarter
Moderator

Posts: 2920
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 12-13-2004 01:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Your photos are quite good. I haven't encountered this one before. It bears a general resemblance to a drawn mark in Ensko IV, but is not an exact match. wev may have to query Winterthur on this one.

Early American silver is a rather esoteric subject - it sells better on ebay where knowledgeable buyers can see it than at swapmeets where the general buying public is unfamiliar with it. The best bargains used to be found at such fleamarkets before ebay caught on, and have become fewer since sellers now prefer to put it on ebay where it sells better. Prices have dropped on all but the more desireable items on ebay as the market is relatively limited and is becoming saturated, so you can look for the more common items to reappear in the markets. An item such as yours which is not readily recognizable is likely to turn out to be a real treasure, as it can be gotten reasonably, and once identified, can increase dramatically in interest as well as value. Answers are not always forthcoming immediately, so a bit of patience is required, but these mysteries are challenging and provide much of the attraction of the subject to collectors.

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Polly

Posts: 1956
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 12-13-2004 04:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wow, it's stumping the experts! This is getting more exciting by the minute. Thanks so much, you guys!

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FredZ

Posts: 1070
Registered: Jun 99

iconnumber posted 12-13-2004 07:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FredZ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Polly,

There are a great many marks on silver without attribution. It takes an extreme amount of effort for a mark to be attributed to a smith. We are fortunate that much of this research has been done by those who preceeded us. Even if we had all the books available to us written on early American smiths we would not be able to connect a mark to a craftsman. Most of the experts here on this forum are folks who's passion is silver and the history of the men and women who fashioned this silver. This forum is one of the finest on the web and has a phenominal amount of combined knowlege in it's members. I am flattered when I can lend some information to these discussions. I love the challenge of research and discovery. This is a great place and one of the best uses of the Internet.

Fred
(tripping as he steps down from the soap box)

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wev
Moderator

Posts: 4098
Registered: Apr 99

iconnumber posted 12-14-2004 10:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And the mystery continues. I have heard from Winterthur and a few other sources -- none have a record of this mark in their files. The feeling is that it is American c 1790-1800. There are not a lot of PP candidates; one possibility (grasping straws) might be Philip Parisen, who worked in New York City during that time and used a variety of surname and initial marks.

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Brent

Posts: 1502
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 12-14-2004 10:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm sure the date range given is correct, regardless of the source. One caveat might be that there are some Scandinavian items similarly marked with just the maker's intials, and the broad semicircular drop, while found in American silver, is even more common in North European silver.

Brent

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Polly

Posts: 1956
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 12-14-2004 11:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't suppose it means anything that I found it in New York City? Two hundred years is plenty of time for a spoon to travel, and I didn't ask the man who sold it to me where HE was from.

Just for my education (and the education of other newbies who might be reading this), could someone explain to me what makes you think it's American c. 1790-1800? What aspects of it in particular lead you to think so?

[This message has been edited by Polly (edited 12-14-2004).]

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swarter
Moderator

Posts: 2920
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 12-14-2004 01:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We cannot say with 100% certainty that it is American, nor when it was made. This style of spoon could have been made anywhere from the 1770's to the 1830's, but most seem to fall in the 1785-1810 period. Spoons like this with no marks other than that of the maker most frequently are American, but many Scottish provincial examples can pass for American. The type of decorative "drop" on the back of the bowl is uncommon in American silver, but not unprecedented; it is reminiscent of those found on Scottish spoons, but Scottish marks are usually not so crude as this one, which is more to the Amreican. The style was made in Canada and elsewhere in the British Emmpire, as well as in Europe, but spoons made in the latter areas oftem carry additional marks. Lots of guesswork, intuition, experience, and odds-playing point to American origin being most likely, but you never know for certain until a documented example turns up. What sometimes can make the difference is provenance - one should never buy any sort of antique without inquiring of the seller if there is any history to the piece - they seldom know, but you get lucky once in a while. If you encounter that seller again, you might ask uf he knows where it came from, or remembers where or how he came by it.

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Polly

Posts: 1956
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 12-14-2004 03:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What a thrill it is to be a member of a species that creates things and classifies things--and then talks to its fellows on the Internet about what it's created and classified. I love the human brain! I love the Internet! I love communities of generous, knowledgeable people willing to share their knowledge with newcomers.

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akgdc

Posts: 289
Registered: Sep 2001

iconnumber posted 12-14-2004 04:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for akgdc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
By the way, I suspect that the HF monogram may not be original. Am I correct that it appears surprisingly crisp given the wear to the other surfaces of the spoon?

Such monograms consisting of shaded capitals were widely used in the 18th century, but they were also widely imitated in the early 20th century. One not infrequently sees old pieces re-engraved with such initials.

None of this is to suggest that the "host" spoon itself is not authentic -- as well as quite interesting. Congratulations on your find!

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Polly

Posts: 1956
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 12-14-2004 04:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hm, you're right--the monogram does look crisp. Would that typically be the same initials reinscribed, or would it be new initials?

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akgdc

Posts: 289
Registered: Sep 2001

iconnumber posted 12-14-2004 05:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for akgdc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hard to say for certain, Polly. But most likely is that they would be the initials of a 20th-century owner.

Is there any sign of previous initials having been erased?

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Polly

Posts: 1956
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 12-14-2004 06:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Not that I can see, and the initials are "H+F.", with the + and the . --wouldn't that be unusual for a 20th century owner? Or would it be a 20th century owner trying to look like an 18th century couple?

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swarter
Moderator

Posts: 2920
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 12-14-2004 07:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
While this style of engraving was typical of the 18th Century, there were some smiths who carried it over into the Nineteenth. The Haverstick family silversmiths of Lancaster, PA, for example; also a purchaser could request any style he liked, especially if matching older silver. I have seen any number of examples where the engraving still looked fresh, especially on spoons that were not heavily worn - yours could very well be original.

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akgdc

Posts: 289
Registered: Sep 2001

iconnumber posted 12-15-2004 07:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for akgdc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have also seen this type of engraving -- including the little "+" between the initials -- used by 20th-century engravers imitating 18th-century engravers, often rather well. This was especially prevalent during the first decades of the century, when colonial antiques were much in vogue.

Sometimes people seem to have had this done to put their own initials on a piece of old silver (or on a piece of colonial-revival silver). And sometimes they did it to an old family piece that the ancestors had "forgotten" to engrave (often, in their excitement, adding the names or initials of ancestors who lived two or three generations before the piece was actually made).

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swarter
Moderator

Posts: 2920
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 12-15-2004 12:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Polly, akgdc brings up a good point. You cannot always take things at face value when dealing with antiques.

You can, however, often detect a removal of original letters by carefuloy examining the surface of the silver around the initials for surface waviness, a depression, or a difference from the rest of the surface in the number of tiny scratches that contribute to the patina that has accumulated over the years. Sometinmes the entire surface has been buffed to disguise the difference. Sometimes you can even detect a thinning of the area by feel, if the original engraving was deep and required removal of a significant amount of the silver in that area. I can see no obvious telltale signs in your picture, but they are often difficult to detect in a photograph, so you may want to examine it closely to make sure.

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adelapt

Posts: 418
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 12-15-2004 02:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for adelapt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Polly,

Thanks for bringing your excitement and infectious enthusiasm to this forum, it's a real breath of fresh air. I suspect that a lot of us caught that thrill of finding out just how things tie into history, and how accessible it can be, early on in our collecting. After a while it's easy to get a bit blase about it all, but you bring us back to base!

Thanks,
Adelapt

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swarter
Moderator

Posts: 2920
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 12-15-2004 02:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well said, adalapt. Amen to that!

[This message has been edited by swarter (edited 12-15-2004).]

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Polly

Posts: 1956
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 12-15-2004 03:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Aw, thanks, folks. I'm glad you find my ignorance & enthusiasm refreshing, rather than annoying. Just think of me as a puppy.

I can't find any waviness or difference in patina near the monogram, but that could be because I don't really know what I'm looking for. I see lots of random little scratches all over, and some long scratches going vertically that look as if someone polished it with something harsh at some point in its history. Those long vertical scratches go over and into the monogram, so I'm sure they happened after it was engraved. Does that mean anything, besides that someone had a heavy hand with the cleaning at some point after the spoon was monogrammed?

I'm going to try to take some closeups to see if that helps. I wish I had a better camera for taking closeups.

Thanks again for all your attention to my little spoon. Arf!

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Polly

Posts: 1956
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 01-16-2021 01:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, here we are more than 16 years later, and I believe I have an answer to my first SMP forum post (or one of my first posts). This spoon appears to be by Peter Pallais of Bermuda.

[This message has been edited by Polly (edited 01-16-2021).]

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Silverpath

Posts: 33
Registered: Jun 2020

iconnumber posted 01-16-2021 02:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Silverpath     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Amazing! And so much more exciting than a sandwich. Great find and follow up!

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11441
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 01-16-2021 04:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just in case you didn't see: 1939 - PAPER ON BERMUDA'S SILVERSMITHS

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Polly

Posts: 1956
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 01-16-2021 05:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, Silverpath and Scott.

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Scott Martin
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iconnumber posted 01-16-2021 11:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

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Polly

Posts: 1956
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 01-17-2021 11:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, Scott. The mark on mine is in a different shape punch, but I sent photos to a very experienced dealer in Bermuda antiques and silver, who told me he thinks my spoon does very much appear to be the work of Peter Pallais.

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June Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 1241
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 01-17-2021 11:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for June Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Polly, so glad to see your enthusiasm has not waned and thank you for reviving and adding to this thread.
Viva la Silver!

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June Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 1241
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 01-17-2021 11:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for June Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wow, Scott, that is such a sad story about Peter Pallais.

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asheland

Posts: 931
Registered: Nov 2003

iconnumber posted 01-26-2021 02:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Fun thread to read, I don't remember seeing it back in 2004. I was initially thrown as to why they were welcoming Polly to the forum until I saw the posting date! biggrin

Coin silver is indeed fun to research, what a cool find! Bermuda of all places... VERY Cool!

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Polly

Posts: 1956
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 01-26-2021 10:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That was back when I was a fresh-faced thing just barely entering middle age, with the stars still shining in my eyes. Little did I know what spoons lay ahead of me!

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avalata

Posts: 59
Registered: Feb 2003

iconnumber posted 02-04-2021 10:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for avalata     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Pallais has several known marks, and this spoon is almost certainly by him. Best, Cliff

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