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Author Topic:   Is this William Roe?
Polly

Posts: 1889
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 12-31-2013 01:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just got a coin silver sugar tongs with typical late 18th century bright-cut engraving:


[This message has been edited by Polly (edited 05-22-2014).]

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Polly

Posts: 1889
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 12-31-2013 01:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's marked WR or perhaps W[pellet]R--the pellet, if it's real, is only very slightly elevated compared to the W and R. It's also marked with a beautiful eagle closely related to the one on the Great Seal of the United States:

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Polly

Posts: 1889
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 12-31-2013 01:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The eagle in the mark is holding an olive branch in its right talon (our left) and a bunch of arrows in its left (our right). It's facing the arrows.

In the actual seal at the time it was introduced, the eagle is facing the olive branch.

The shield that the eagle is holding in the mark is not rectangular, like on most versions of the seal, but curvy, like in this 1786 engraving:

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Polly

Posts: 1889
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 12-31-2013 01:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
So who made my tongs? Clearly someone patriotic, working in the late 18th-early 19th century.

William Roe used a W[pellet]R mark with various eagle pseudomarks, as discussed in this thread, though I haven't seen this particular eagle before: William Roe spoons

According to a geneology website, Roe served in the Revolutionary War: "William Roe was a Captain in the Quartermaster Corp, serving with General Putnam in the Highlanders through out the war."

A Revolutionary veteran might make his eagle mark face the arrows (war) rather than the olive branch (peace).

Has anyone seen this particular mark before? Do you think it's William Roe's? Someone else's?

Any guesses as to when these tongs were made? 1790s, maybe?

Thanks, all, and happy new year!!

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wev
Moderator

Posts: 4072
Registered: Apr 99

iconnumber posted 12-31-2013 01:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
William Richardson, Richmond c 1775-1808

Very nice way to end the year.

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Polly

Posts: 1889
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 12-31-2013 02:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ooo, thank you, WEV!

Do you think there's a connection between the mark and the Great Seal? If so, the tongs were probably made after 1782, or after 1786 if that engraving is relevant, right?

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wev
Moderator

Posts: 4072
Registered: Apr 99

iconnumber posted 12-31-2013 02:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think c 1790 would be right. Undoubtedly the Great Shield was an influence. There are a number of versions used by various makers, pretty evenly divided between left face and right.

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Polly

Posts: 1889
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 12-31-2013 02:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks again, wev! Happy new year!

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seaduck

Posts: 340
Registered: Dec 2006

iconnumber posted 01-01-2014 06:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for seaduck     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And I'm chiming in to compliment Polly on her excellent photos!

Can you tell me how you took them? I'm esp interesting in the close ups of the marks -- something I still struggle with. (And what service did you use to post them?)

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Polly

Posts: 1889
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 01-01-2014 07:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi, Seaduck--

I have a point-and-shoot camera, a Canon PC1742. I just put it on auto, point, and shoot. I take a lot of shots and crop the good ones. Of course, there's a certain amount of adjusting the relative position of the silver item and the camera so that the camera decides to focus on the hallmark rather than (say) a wrinkle in the tablecloth. I also try to use bright, indirect lighting, which occasionally involves shooting photos in my building's stairwell (my neighbors must think I'm very strange). And sometimes I edit the photos to increase the (apparent) exposure.

For posting, I still just use photobucket, though it's gotten pretty annoying.

I hope that helps.

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ahwt

Posts: 2090
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 01-01-2014 09:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You have some very interesting sugar tongs to add to your collection. Catherine Hollan in her book on Virginia Silversmiths has four (in very, very small print) pages on Capt. Richardson. If you do not have this book you should go to your local library and read her accounting of Capt. Richardson’s life. There is a good picture of your eagle and all the marks he used.

I don’t know when it happened, but at some point in time the eagle turned his eyes away from the arrows and looked toward the olive branch. I suspect advice from George Washington has something to do with this.

I just finished reading “Mr. President”: George Washington and the Making of the Nation’s Highest Office and have even more respect for his ideas and his leadership abilities.

Your tongs are a very nice find. I guess it will never be known but I do wonder if this pattern could be attributed to one person or if it was a natural result of many ideas coming together. The latter is more likely as I think most designs and inventions are the result of the mingling together of many ideas.

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seaduck

Posts: 340
Registered: Dec 2006

iconnumber posted 01-01-2014 10:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for seaduck     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you, Polly! I have a little Canon point and shoot -- different model -- and will see what I can do with it. Have been trying various things with my Nikon DSLR, but haven't been satisfied. Sometimes the most simplest is the most bestest.

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Polly

Posts: 1889
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 01-02-2014 12:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, ahwt! The nearest copy of that book seems to be in the Met Museum's library, so that will be a good excuse for a visit--I'll go check it out once all the holiday visitors have gone home and it's possible to get through the front door again. I've never actually used their library, so that will be an adventure in itself. Their online registration form asks for an institutional affiliation (I don't have one of those) and an occupation/profession (the pull-down list doesn't seem to include "madwoman who gloats over sugar tongs"). I hope they'll let me in anyway.

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ahwt

Posts: 2090
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 08-05-2019 12:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Catherine Hollan in her book “Eagle Marks on American Silver” shows the William Richardson eagle on page 24. William was partnered with his brother George 1782-98. William used the eagle mark with his initials, but not with the partnership mark. From this she opines that the eagle was used in the first decade of the nineteenth century.

I usually think of your bright cut tongs as late 18th century, but it could be certain styles lingered on in Virginia. It could also be the William sold silver with only his mark even when he was partnered with his brother.

The eagle die was acquired by Thomas Cowan when William Richardson died. Cowan used the die from 1808 until 1830.

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Polly

Posts: 1889
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 08-05-2019 10:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
After a collector tried to buy this pair of tongs from me for an insultingly low price, I gave them to wev as a thank you present for all his hard work on his silversmith family tree website.

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