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Author Topic:   ID this maker?
Polly

Posts: 1891
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 01-06-2019 08:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Coin silver tongs with eagle-claw ends, fiddle-type arms, and pseudo marks: eagle, D, bust, in octagons. Does anybody have thoughts about who might have made it, where, and when? Perhaps someone with a copy of McGrew's book on pseudomarks (which clearly I need to get)?

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wev
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Posts: 4072
Registered: Apr 99

iconnumber posted 01-06-2019 09:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am far away from my books at the moment, but I believe that these are among the wholesale marks attributed to John Lawson Westervelt and his circle of partners. Could be way off base, but maybe a start.

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Polly

Posts: 1891
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 01-06-2019 10:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, wev! The rest of the Internet seems to think Westervelt's marks are JLW, variants on his name, and <star><lion>D, all in octagons. I'm not seeing anyone claim the eagle and bust are associated with him. But this is just me randomly poking around on the Internet--do you think you're misremembering or he really did use the eagle and bust?

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ahwt

Posts: 2091
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 01-07-2019 09:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
McGrew attributes it to Green Hall and John D. Hewson of Albany.
It has appeared on many retailers silver.

[This message has been edited by ahwt (edited 01-07-2019).]

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ahwt

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iconnumber posted 01-07-2019 09:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

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Polly

Posts: 1891
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 01-07-2019 09:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you, ahwt! (I think you have a typo and meant Hewson rather than Newson.)

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Polly

Posts: 1891
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 01-07-2019 09:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I clearly need that book!
My guess based on the style was 1830s, which is consistent with this info.
This is interesting:

quote:
Hall & Hewson, Silversmiths

The partnership of Green Hall and John D. Hewson began around 1818, shortly after Hall ended a previous partnership with one Thomas Carson. For the next three decades, they produced a variety of silver goods, including the simple beakers seen here: https://tinyurl.com/y9cprau6

In 1845, the Albany Evening Journal described the business:

"The extensive and long-established Silver Ware Manufactory of Messrs. Hall, Hewson & Co., No 10 Plain street, in this city, is so well known, “here and elsewhere,” as scarcely to need any notice from us, but as a sample of what may be found in our city, we shall be pardoned for a brief allusion. – The establishment is one of the oldest in our city, having been under the supervision of the present worthy proprietors for the last eighteen years.-- About ten years since, finding their old quarters too [illegible] for their business, they “pulled down and built larger.” Their present building is of brick, two stories high, in dimensions 66 by 24 feet. The melting shop is 16 by 15 feet. From eighteen to twenty-five workmen here from constant employment. The manufacture is on a large scale, being for the supply of the trade. Besides the jewellers of this city, the customers of Messrs. H & H are scattered over the States of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Illinois, the Northern and Western sections of this State and the Canadas. Specimens of their Ware grace the tables of several of our largest Hotels – For the last ten years, the sales of this establishment have averaged from $20,00 to $55,000 per annum – the value of the silver worked up in that time being $250,149."

Hall resided across the street from the manufactory at 11 Plain Street. He died at the age of 79 and is buried in Lot 11, Section 8 on the South Ridge. His family lot is marked by a large sandstone monument.

Hewson, who also served as a city alderman, was a resident of 53 Green Street. On April 1, 1852, the local newspapers reported that he was "stricken down by apoplexy" and not expected to recover. The papers noted that he was a "venerable and highly valued friend." He died on April 5 at the age of 62 and is buried on the Middle Ridge in Lot 28, Section 55. His monument includes a marble bas-relief portrait.



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ahwt

Posts: 2091
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 01-07-2019 09:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I did but it is fixed now. Thanks.
Albany had some great and early silversmiths.

I have always thought that the claws of this type were separately cast and then affixed to the arms of the tongs. The claws on these tongs are very bold. Very nice tongs.

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Polly

Posts: 1891
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 01-07-2019 08:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree that the eagle-claw ends were cast separately. I've seen similar--possibly identical--claws on tongs from different silver makers. This particular pair is engraved to give it texture.

I bought these because the seller was asking lunch money for them. It seems to be a fairly good time to buy silver, with the melt price low and young people Marie Kondo-ing away all the "clutter" of the past. I've been on a bit of a spree lately: egg spoons and vinaigrettes and several pairs of sugar tongs.

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asheland

Posts: 916
Registered: Nov 2003

iconnumber posted 01-08-2019 12:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"lunch money" Ha! I love that term, and I'll likely be using that one. I love finding coin silver examples under those circumstances! Hence the boxes of spoons I have accumulated. biggrin

Speaking of, I once found a dish cross for, lets say, "gas money" prices. wink It was black and when I inspected it, BAM! London, 1788 hallmarks! Fun indeed!

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asheland

Posts: 916
Registered: Nov 2003

iconnumber posted 01-08-2019 12:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't think I've ever shown this here before...

(before being polished, as found)

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Polly

Posts: 1891
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 01-08-2019 10:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ooo, asheland! Look at that adorable clear little 18th c lion on its toe!

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asheland

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iconnumber posted 01-09-2019 10:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yep! I love those little Lion Passants on all the accessories...

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Polly

Posts: 1891
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 01-23-2019 01:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I found another pair of these c. 1830s coin silver eagle-clawed fiddle-shaped sugar tongs for lunch money. This one is marked lion G bust, plus part of another mark. I think it's by Merritt Fordham (Merrit Fordham?) of NYC, 1828-33.

It's the same size as my previous pair:

The claws on the two pairs are similar, but not identical:

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wev
Moderator

Posts: 4072
Registered: Apr 99

iconnumber posted 01-23-2019 02:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From the 1834 STEELE & HOCKNELL wholesale price list I have:

Sugar Tongs -- per pair
chased claws, 0.88
basket or shell, chased claws 1.00
plain shell bowls, 0.72
basket shell bowls, 0.84

[This message has been edited by wev (edited 01-23-2019).]

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Polly

Posts: 1891
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 01-23-2019 02:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Cool, wev!

I kinda wish they'd coughed up the extra 12 cents for the basket of flowers... wonder what that is in today's money?

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wev
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iconnumber posted 01-23-2019 02:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
at the standard inflation rate, a dollar then would be $28.50 now.

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Polly

Posts: 1891
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 01-23-2019 03:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
According to the calculator on this website:
Historical Currency Conversions
$.88 in 1834 had buying power equivalent to today's $25.41 (which is a bit LOWER than in 1833).

According to your website, wev, Steel & Hocknell also charged $1.20/oz (I presume this is ozt?) for silver.

My new tongs weigh 1.10 ozt.

So if Mr. Fordham charged similar prices, they would have cost the original buyer ($1.20)(1.10)+($.88)=$2.20 in 1834, which is the equivalent of $63.53 today, according to that web calculator (who knows how accurate it is).

If Mr. Fordham made and sold them in 1833, they would have cost the equivalent of $64.83.

Assuming he was charging the same for work and silver in 1828, they would have cost the equivalent $57.75.

Silversmith members, how long does it take to make a pair of sugar tongs like these? I assume the ends are cast in bulk, soldered on, and chased, yes?

I bought them for much less than Mssrs Steel & Hocknell would have charged me, including shipping. But more typical prices today seem similar to what they were charging back in the day. This is all assuming that website is even remotely accurate, of course. I know nothing about it. Other calculators seem to use government measures of inflation, but typically only go back to 1913.

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Polly

Posts: 1891
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 01-23-2019 03:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
So it would have been around $3.00-$3.50 more in today's money for the baskets of flowers. That seems cheap. But maybe it wasn't much more work to add them? It wouldn't have taken more silver, just an additional stamping step, I guess.

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ahwt

Posts: 2091
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 01-23-2019 04:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for that information Polly.
John McGrew had an excellent article on Basket of Flowers variations in the Mar/Apr 1989 issue of Silver Magazine.

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Polly

Posts: 1891
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 01-30-2019 09:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Now that I have my copy of John McGrew's excellent book, I've changed my mind about the maker of my second pair of clawed tongs. I was basing my opinion that it was by Merrit Fordham on having seen the "lion G bust" mark next to Fordham's mark somewhere on the internet. But I now think--based on McGrew's page about the "lion G bust" combo--that Fordham was just the retailer, and the maker was our old friend Hall & Hewson (or Hall, Hewson, & Brower), the same folks who made Claw Tongs #1.

I continue not to know exactly when the tongs were made, and I continue to stubbornly think it was the '30s, mostly because I like the width of ladies' sleeves during that period. To be fair, Hall & Hewson/HH & Co were in business from 1828-46, more than half of which comprised the 30s, so my sleeve-based guess could well be right.

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ahwt

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Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 01-30-2019 11:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think the process of making the basket took a little time as the basket was imprinted in the silver by hand striking a die multiple times. I do not know how many times it took, but the process must have taken some experience to do correctly. I can imagine the second time it hit the die, the die would have moved and I would have a blurry basket. I think this process was the same as used on picture back spoons.
When William Gale invented a method using mechanical force the process was considerable easier to do.

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Polly

Posts: 1891
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 07-27-2019 01:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just found another lunch-money pair of 1830s coin silver tongs, this time with paw ends instead of claw ends and a basket of flowers. Eagerly awaiting their arrival.

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Polly

Posts: 1891
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 08-05-2019 10:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here are the new tongs. They're marked C. Johnson, an incuse D, and three very faint octagonal marks that I believe might be Hall & Hewson again. I can make out a bust and a lion; the thing in the middle is illegible, but it could be a G. Dr. McGrew attributes the Bust G Lion to Hall, Hewson, & Brower, with Brower joining the firm in 1838, possibly later than these tongs might have been made (but maybe not?). The retailer, C. Johnson, is Chauncey Johnson of Albany, 1824-31/38-41, according to McGrew, or c. 1820-1830, then in a partnership with Alonzo W. Johnson from 1831-38, then alone again (naturally) from 38-41, according to wev's site. So I now think all three pairs of lunch-money tongs were made by Hall & Hewson (or possibly Hall, Hewson, & Brower, after the former apprentice joined the firm). I wonder how many more pairs of their tongs I'll find for lunch money! They must have made a ton. This particular pair was listed as 1920s-40s silverplated ice tongs. Off by a century! How irritatingly smug I am.

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asheland

Posts: 916
Registered: Nov 2003

iconnumber posted 08-06-2019 10:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very nice tongs!

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ahwt

Posts: 2091
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 08-06-2019 11:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Your tongs have a nice crisp basket; great find.
I think the letter D meant that the tongs were made from silver dollars.

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