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Author Topic:   Coin silver...that isn't!
Brent

Posts: 1502
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 11-30-1999 10:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One of my passions is coin silver. Some of the nice things about coin silver are that it is seldom faked, and once you can recognize it there are only a few things that can be confused with it. Unfortunately, wishful thinking can get the better of you if you don't watch out. Case in point:

I was browsing through an antique mall while away on business (don't tell the boss!) when I spotted a small oval box in a locked case. It was a bit mashed in, and tarnished, but it had the glow of old silver. When I found someone to open the case, I was able to see that it was indeed an old snuff/patch/? box with a fitted lid. More importantly, it was marked inside the lid and the body with a single maker's mark, SP in an oval. Hooray, an early American silver box! Even better, the sticker said "Silver Plate box, $10". I couldn't wait to get it home to find out who made it.

When I did get it home, I found that the SP mark did not match those of Samuel Parmelee, Samuel Pancoast, or any other American silversmith with those initials. Still, I wanted to believe that it was American. Finally, though, I checked my Jackson's English Hallmark book. Sure enough, I found the mark in the listings of Birmingham silversmiths, under the name Samuel Pemberton, late 18th/ early 19th century. What's more, Pemberton was a prolific maker of BOXES, among other things. So it was an English box after all.

The more I thought about it, I should have realized it was English from the start. The dealer's booth was stocked almost entirely with things recently brought from England! Besides, American boxes are about as scarce as hen's teeth. Still, I can't complain. I got a nice little sterling box for $10, which would not have happened if the dealer hadn't thought that the SP stood for silver plate! I also learned something valuable. Just because there is only a maker's mark on something, does not mean it is necessarily American coin silver! It might be, or it might be something else. I will elaborate on this in a future post.

What has fooled you?

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