SMP Logo
SM Publications
Silver Salon Forums - The premier site for discussing Silver.
SMP | Silver Salon Forums | SSF - Guidelines | SSF - FAQ | Silver Sales

The Silver Salon Forums
Since 1993
Over 11,793 threads & 64,769 posts !!
Silver Stories Forum
How to Post Photos REGISTER (click here)

customtitle open  SMP Silver Salon Forums
tlineopen  Silver Stories
tline3open  Not really research, but still fun

Post New Topic  Post A Reply
profile | register | preferences | faq | search

ForumFriend SSFFriend: Email This Page to Someone! next newest topic | next oldest topic
Author Topic:   Not really research, but still fun
ahwt

Posts: 2022
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 10-02-2004 06:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

We recently found a tea set that has the mark of W. B. North & Co. Deborah Dependahl Waters, in Elegant Plate: Three Centuries of Precious Metals in New York City, indicates that W. B. North used this mark from 1824 to 1826. We were initially attracted the design because of the basket of flowers finials, the animal head at the end of the spout and its great size. The teapot is over 11 inches high and would suggest that the "More is not enough" consumerism was in full force by the 1820s.





What also fascinated me was the name and date on each piece. In a rather large and bold script the name "Stella Mercer Shoemaker" was engraved together with the date 1835 prominently placed below this name.

I am not that familiar with the engraving practice of the 1820s, but normally I would have expected to see a monogram rather than a full name and date. From seeing many children's presentation cups it is evident that the size, style and content of the engraving often have something with the donor's purpose or objective. In this case it may have had something to do with the recipient's intention.

The fun part of having a name to trace is making a connection with the past. Search engines and the publication of names of ancestors on a web site often make searching effortless. The great and wonderful Goggle disclosed that Stella Mercer Sprigg married Charles Shoemaker on May 18, 1835. Stella was from New Orleans and Charles lived in Pennsylvania. This was the second marriage for Charles as his first marriage to Mary E. Denison on 24 Oct 1825 ended with her death in August 1831. As the date of his first marriage coincided with the time that the W. B. North and Co. mark was used, it is possible that the tea set was initially a gift by Charles to his first wife. It may well be that Stella, with the ingenuity and initiative of one from Louisiana, found the perfect way to take away the memory of the first wife. The extra large engraving of her name, together with date of their marriage no doubt was just the first step to bind her and Charles together. Of course it could also be that Charles simply wanted to save some money. Since the tea set had never been engraved, he may have decided to recycle it and had it engraved with his second wife's name. I think I like the first explanation better and will go with that.


IP: Logged

swarter
Moderator

Posts: 2920
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 03-20-2005 05:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Makes you wonder who to blame - the owner or the engraver. She must have wanted there to be no doubt as to who the owner was. The size of the lettering, however, is not the latrgest I have seen:

Some years ago, a dealer's relative once showed me a few early items being held for pricing during the elderly shop owner's illness - she must have not recovered, because the shop was closed before the items ever came up for sale - I particularly coveted a Philadelphia apple corer by John McMullin. One other piece was a nice early cann by Samuel Vernon, which had been thoroughly defaced by someone's ego: there were two sets of early owner's names or initials along with dates engraved on the body in small letters, and a third, later one which was blatantly engraved in huge bold script initials perhaps 2" or more high, filling up all the remaining space so than no subsequent owner's name could be immortalized alongside his! What a shame. Some people just ain't got no couth at all!

IP: Logged

Ulysses Dietz
Moderator

Posts: 1265
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 04-22-2005 03:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Your teaset struck a chord. Very New York of its day; but the engraved date is wonderful.
Compare with this...

Very similar spout; this is part of a three piece set made for a family in Newark by Nicholas J. Bogert. Because it was not marked "STERLING" it appears to have been ELECTROPLATED at some time in the early 20th century. You'd thought they could have polished it. Probably had fire scale and they thought it was plated.

IP: Logged

akgdc
unregistered
iconnumber posted 04-23-2005 10:12 AM           Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's hard to say for sure, but the engraving's style looks more 20th-century to me, and it is not as worn as it should be, especially given the exposed spot where it is found . The location of the engraving would also be atypical of 1835.

It was a not infrequent practice in the 1900s to engrave a piece of family silver with the name and date of its original owner, in order to record its history (especially when passing it down to the younger generation) and also to advertise one's genealogy not-so-subtly.

IP: Logged

wev
Moderator

Posts: 4046
Registered: Apr 99

iconnumber posted 04-23-2005 10:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Stella Mercer Shoemaker was born to Robert and Helen (Lee) Shoemaker on 7 Sep 1877.

She was named for her paternal grandmother, Stella (Mercer) Sprigg, who, as noted, married, as her second husband, Charles Shoemaker on 18 May 1835.

[This message has been edited by wev (edited 04-23-2005).]

IP: Logged

ahwt

Posts: 2022
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 04-24-2005 05:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The lack of wear is evidence that Stella's name and date of marriage was engraved some time after 1835. Perhaps it was done at the behest of one of her ancestors so as to make a connection to the past. I have seen quite a few cups where descendents added their names on the object that they received from one of their ancestors, but I was not aware of an engraving of an ancestor's name some time after the initial presentation.

The Bogert teapot has a spout that is very similar to the North piece and together with the similar handle leads me to think that maybe different pieces of the teapot were all purchased from a firm that specialized making in these parts. I know that the die-rolled border was from a specialized industry, and perhaps handles, spouts, and finials also were made by specialized silversmiths.

Thanks Ulysses, akgdc and wev for the great information.

Art

IP: Logged

wev
Moderator

Posts: 4046
Registered: Apr 99

iconnumber posted 04-24-2005 06:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think you are confusing the two Stella's. I believe the date refers to the grandmother's marriage, but the name itself is the granddaughter's, born in 1877. If she recieved the set as a legacy of her namesake, this would explain the late date of the engraving.

IP: Logged

ahwt

Posts: 2022
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 05-01-2005 06:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Helen Clifford has authored a new book entitled "Silver in London: The Parker and Wakelin Partnership, 1760-1776" and it is reviewed by Margaret Hofer in the current Silver Magazine. Ms. Hofer writes; "The heart of Silver in London is Clifford's detailed analysis of specialists that retailers relied upon to stock their shop and fill clients' orders. Between 1766 and 1770, a network of seventy-five subcontractors (fifty-three silversmiths and related tradesmen, and twenty-two jewelers and goldworkers) based in their own workshops supplied a wide range of wares, from simple mourning rings to elaborate epergnes."

It would seem that by the 1820s, if not earlier, New York silversmiths would have been using the same business model that had proved so successful in England. If that was true, perhaps very few of the parts of this teapot were actually made by North or Bogert.

IP: Logged

Ulysses Dietz
Moderator

Posts: 1265
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 05-05-2005 10:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Regarding later engraving of inscriptions, it is a commonplace occurance, and for the reasons outlined above--to underscore family heritage and as a permanent reminder of who owned what. We have a five-piece tea and coffee service by Peter and William Bateman (London) made for Mercey Shiverick Hatch of Boston, in ca. 1806. At her death in 1852, her name and that date were engraved on the bottom of it, so that it (and the accompanying portrait by Gilbert Stuart) would be remember and revered by heirs.

Secondly, we have a five-piece tea and coffee set by Fletcher & Gardner of Philadephia, ca. 1814, with the monogram of William and Ann Spencer Sheepshanks, who were married in 1804. The inscsription, added on the side of each piece opposite that of the monogram, states (wrongly) that the service was given as a wedding gift in 1804--a fact impossible since F&G weren't in business then. So I theorize that the Sheepshanks got richer and bought bigger silver from F&G (and it's splendid). Long after their demise, some anxious descendant had the inscription engraved, less the family forget who the WAS monogram was for. So they got it wrong, it's the thought that counts. I happen to be someone who loves this sort of added engraving, as long as it doesn't materially damage the object. These inscriptions help us understand how silver evolved from intrinsically precious (i.e., like cash) to extrinsically precious (i.e. inherited status).

IP: Logged

ahwt

Posts: 2022
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 04-16-2009 08:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My wife spotted the teapot on the right last weekend in Atlanta and as a result Stella has an addition to her tea service. The two teapots are identical, except for size, with the taller pot 11 ¼ inches tall and the smaller 10 inches tall. The marks on the bottom are identical and the two pots must have been made by or sold by North within a fairly short time of each other.

I guess now we should be looking for a waste bowl by North as I am sure that he would have offered one in the mid 1820’s to go with this service. I also wonder if other size teapots were made by North.

My wife does have a good eye as this pot was really hiding on the dealers table behind many other things and she when right to it. The smaller pot is not engraved, but I suppose we could put Stella’s name on it also.


IP: Logged

swarter
Moderator

Posts: 2920
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 04-16-2009 10:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great find! I would suggest that they are not both teapots. There were as many as three sizes of similar pots that could be provided with a set - coffeepot, hot water pot, and teapot (largest to smallest). These likely are two of the three. A third one (largest or smallest) just might be out there somewhere - keep looking!

IP: Logged

Hose_dk

Posts: 396
Registered: May 2008

iconnumber posted 04-17-2009 01:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hose_dk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes great find - but sometimes you are lucky.

Now you want to add a 1835 engraving - is that a good idea???

In case you do - remember engraving by hand - not machine - engraving by hand, but I am sure you will regret.

I am not familiar with American engraving 1835 - but in my mind I am also sure that it is made at a much later date.

I have (European) pieces from that period - engraving look different. much different.

IP: Logged

Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 04-17-2009 02:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As someone who drinks tea, I can understand the need for multiple tea pots. Tea lasts for about one hour, beyond that it is undrinkable. For a social event expected to last longer than one l hour, two pots are needed. Tea is best when made with boiling water, hence the need for an urn that keeps water at a high temperature. To make the tea, take a clean pot and put in hot water. Swish it around to warm the pot. Pour the water into the slop. Then add tea leaves to the pot, pour water on the leaves. Making batches of tea over and over, explains the existence of the literal hordes of teapots found at antique shows.

IP: Logged

ahwt

Posts: 2022
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 04-17-2009 11:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We will keep looking for other pieces by North. Hose_dk I was just kidding when I said we were thinking of engraving the pot. It will not be engraved with any name or date. I think after engraving by a family member is interesting, but not so interesting by a stranger.

My wife just had a late afternoon noon tea party. It started out for women only, but I guess since most of our friends are retired the husbands all came. With that addition wine seemed to be the beverage of choice and we did not get to test your one hour rule Dale.

IP: Logged

Hose_dk

Posts: 396
Registered: May 2008

iconnumber posted 04-17-2009 11:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hose_dk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sorry English is not my first language. smile So I missed a point.

However the $ value might improve by adding more pieced - in case makers mark also match.

Adding your name and date would definitely decrease the $ value. But in my opinion that is no problem. In my mind the owner 2009 has the right to act accordingly. A 2009 engraving is for me as OK as a 1809 engraving. Provided that it is done in RESPECT of the item. Taking its history in mind. But respect for the item is essential.

I trust that my mention of $ value in this general term is OK - and according to SMP good behavior.

IP: Logged

seaduck

Posts: 335
Registered: Dec 2006

iconnumber posted 04-17-2009 09:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for seaduck     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
ahwt -- apart from offering wine, I can suggest the custom at traditional teas in Salem, Massachusetts, which is to include on the tray a small cruet containing white rum -- a bit poured into the tea in lieu of milk or lemon. (Rum, of course, due to Salem's maritime history.) I've been to a number of ladies' teas, where some guests have opted for "Salem tea." Presumably gentlemen guests might similarly partake. (I am also guessing that there was a similar custom in Boston, Providence, and elsewhere!)

IP: Logged

ahwt

Posts: 2022
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 04-18-2009 10:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the suggestion Seaduck. White rum does sound interesting, particularly with its tie to Salem.

[This message has been edited by ahwt (edited 04-18-2009).]

IP: Logged

All times are ET

next newest topic | next oldest topic

Administrative Options: Close Topic | Archive/Move | Delete Topic
Post New Topic  Post A Reply
Hop to:


Ultimate Bulletin Board 5.46a


1. Public Silver Forums (open Free membership) - anyone with a valid e-mail address may register. Once you have received your Silver Salon Forum password, and then if you abide by the Silver Salon Forum Guidelines, you may start a thread or post a reply in the New Members' Forum. New Members who show a continued willingness to participate, to completely read and abide by the Guidelines will be allowed to post to the Member Public Forums.
Click here to Register for a Free password

2. Private Silver Salon Forums (invitational or $ donation membership) - The Private Silver Salon Forums require registration and special authorization to view, search, start a thread or to post a reply. Special authorization can be obtained in one of several ways: by Invitation; Annual $ Donation; or via Special Limited Membership. For more details click here (under development).

3. Administrative/Special Private Forums (special membership required) - These forums are reserved for special subjects or administrative discussion. These forums are not open to the public and require special authorization to view or post.


| Home | Order | The Guide to Evaluating Gold & Silver Objects | The Book of Silver
| Update BOS Registration | Silver Library | For Sale | Our Wants List | Silver Dealers | Speakers Bureau |
| Silversmiths | How to set a table | Shows | SMP | Silver News |
copyright © 1993 - 2019 SM Publications
All Rights Reserved.
Legal & Privacy Notices