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tline3open  Engraving as an Indication of Age

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Author Topic:   Engraving as an Indication of Age
Joshuaseed

Posts: 2
Registered: Jun 2005

iconnumber posted 06-03-2005 09:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joshuaseed     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does anyone know of a reference that provides information on engraving styles and techniques that equates age of piece or silversmith/location with engraving? I am primarily interested in American coin silver, but more general information would also be appreciated. Thanks.

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Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 06-04-2005 01:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Engraving is something of an art. Forms of it can be dated in terms of 'not before'. Thus there are sorts of engraving, or styles, that could not have been done before 1885. We can not say when they ended. Dating by engraving is a very, very hazardous enterprise. What engraving requires is tremendous skill and meticulous execution; things that still exist.

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t-man-nc

Posts: 327
Registered: Mar 2000

iconnumber posted 06-05-2005 10:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for t-man-nc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sounds like the beginning of a "White Paper"... It might be interesting to see what a combination/collection of research notes might reveal or shed light on... We make certain judgments based on shape and certain devises such and shoulders and bird-backs/bowl decoration... Why not organize basic engraving and decorations into some form of stratums?

Just a thought...

"Smaug"

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agleopar

Posts: 847
Registered: Jun 2004

iconnumber posted 06-09-2005 08:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for agleopar     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dale has given the best reply and t-man-nc also has what are the seeds of a great research project, it could also be done with chasing, enameling and piercing.

Engraving is practiced in the trade only as a full time job and the best engravers have the ability to copy any style and or hand. One engraver I knew had to sharpen his pencil for hours as a beginning apprentice before he then sharpened his graver for days, he went on to work at the royal mint. Another taught himself to be able to engrave Hogarth, Durer, Doré or any period. I won’t comment on how he used his talent here, the point is that even a modestly skilled engraver does facsimile and copying of styles.

A thought about what you want was that if you showed the forum specific examples of styles the incredibly knowledgeable members would, from experience, be able to tell you age.

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Joshuaseed

Posts: 2
Registered: Jun 2005

iconnumber posted 06-17-2005 02:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joshuaseed     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the replies. I don't have a particular piece in mind. It's just that I have often heard dealers say that the engraving on a piece is "original to the piece" (i.e., is consistent with the age/form of the piece) or was "added later". I was hopeful that there was a reference I was unaware of that I could consult. Even something (preferably with illustrations) that could tell me whether a particular form of engraving could be dated as "not before" [per Dale's response] would be very helpful. And "yes", a "white paper" [per t-mac-nc's response] would be great; however, I don't have the basic knowledge to do it!

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Ulysses Dietz
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Posts: 1265
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 06-17-2005 04:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As you've seen from these responses, engraving is a very subtle artform. Engraving certainly has "style" and can be dated (and help date an object) to a specific period. If you know engraving styles (and they have period style just the way objects do) you can learn to understand if the object and its engraving "match." Lots of silver objects have added inscriptions and dates; fewer have added decorative engraving, but it's not that rare. But engraving can also be copied, and thus it is hard to tell if old engraving (19th century inscription added to an 18th century piece) is "original" or "added." The look and feel of engraving will help, and that is something you can only learn by looking at a lot of engraving. I have seen original, 1881 engraving on an piece that looked totally brand new, and was still sharp to the touch, because it had never been rubbed (in a protected place); I have also seen accurate 1933 renditions of 1860s mongrams, done by different generations on one piece (who conveniently dated them, so I didn't have to know anything). I could feel the difference between the 1935 monogram and the 1865 monogram, by running a gloved thumb over them. I'm not sure I would have known to do that if I hadn't already known the truth.

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t-man-nc

Posts: 327
Registered: Mar 2000

iconnumber posted 06-22-2005 10:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for t-man-nc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree with Ulysses, the styles of engraving can be copied at different times than when it was first used...

As far as how to get a white paper prepared, i submit the following...

These "Styles" if and when collected (Via Photo) could be stored and stratified into specific time frames and examples of different vintage... The only way (that I see - correct me if someone feels differently), you can attribute engraving to any period would be by an overwhelming volume of evidence from dated pieces (Makers Marks, Dates Letters, etc.) of known circa, cross referenced and independently verified by different researchers having access to different / separate large collections to validate and test/confirm the validity of such attribution against other findings...

This would provide a independent scholastic conformation to the findings, and validation of the research / attributions... also indicating several researchers working on the same efforts in different locations with access to large collections... as well as contributions from other knowledgeable resources around the country / world (such as the folks on this forum)...

The basic issues of a white paper are:

1). A place to store the material once collected, assuming open access to the group.

2). A communications method for ongoing updates.

3). A collaborative group, at least three separate researchers with an interest and the time to participate.

4). At least one each, Tech and Admin experts to help guide the development.

5). The commitment of the other participants / scholars who could offer their respective insights and access to their accumulated knowledge, opinions and research notes and pictures.

6). Lots of focus and motivation :-)

7). Ownership, and copyright issues as well as authorship….

Did I miss anything?

"Smaug"

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11377
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 06-22-2005 11:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
1), 2), & 3) are easily accomplished by just starting an SSF post/thread. If the subject really grows into something significant then posts/threads can be moved into their own forum.

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Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 06-22-2005 01:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It would be helpful to have access to silver libraries and ephemera. I have seen engraving style books, I guess that is the name, owned by engravers. What they appeared to be were compilations of various alphabets and insignia, line drawn for copying. From the ones I have examined, my impression is these are books that grow with time. Things are added, but nothing is ever subtracted. So, there were clear Eastlake type examples for engravers to work from. Or with, using them as starting points for their own designs.

The number of variations on the basics is mindboggling. Here we seem to leave craft for art.

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venus

Posts: 282
Registered: Jul 2005

iconnumber posted 07-18-2005 08:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for venus     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
By ingraving are you meaning monograms or other things. For instance I have a gorgeous (guess it is a compote or basket) with birds and half moons and flowers..... it is not chased (if chased is raised applied figures?) but it is etched into the silverplate. I beleive it is Hartford Silver Plate Co and dates 1882-1894 I have a similair serving piece from the Rogers Bros A1 date and pattern unknown.

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Ulysses Dietz
Moderator

Posts: 1265
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 07-21-2005 01:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just yesterday I saw a glorious Tiffany & Co. coffee and tea service, replete with hand-chased and hand-engraved decoration--all in the style of France of about 1740. However, the set was all handmade right in Newark (with the help of technology, of course) in 1927. The style of the engraving (which is repousse chasing and then has added surface engraving)is clearly "period" and can be dated; but only by knowing the maker and its history can you really date it. If this set becomes a gift, I'll post a piece to show a great example of engraving that can confuse.

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agleopar

Posts: 847
Registered: Jun 2004

iconnumber posted 07-21-2005 09:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for agleopar     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
How about a more relaxed aproach to an archive of engraving? Just a site where one could post great examples of engraving and when a critical mass is attained a course of action chosen?

"with the help of technology, of course" Ulysses, I cannot resist asking, except for the torch what technology? Just curious because even today one would be hard pressed to do it in any other way than it would have been done in 1740, and get the same result?

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Ulysses Dietz
Moderator

Posts: 1265
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 07-22-2005 01:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Oops. I wasn't referring to the chasing and engraving, which had to be done by hand. I was thinking of the making of the pieces, which most likely used spun or drop-stamped elements--which were then hand-engraved with repousse-chasing. Thanks for catching that.

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