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Author Topic:   Kirk Find Confusion
outwest

Posts: 390
Registered: Nov 2005

iconnumber posted 02-11-2006 06:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for outwest     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
At a local estate sale yesterday I purchased one item: An S.Kirk and Son small repousse Jelly (?) spoon. I wanted it because I have a large serving spoon that is very similar (I thought it was exactly the same, but it's not).

The two spoons:

The bowl of the small spoon:

The bowl of the large spoon:

The serving spoon that I've always had was given to my mother as a wedding present from an elderly neighbor in 1952. She assumed it was new at that time. I have never been sure of that because of the marks, but it is certainly quite possible (isn't it?).

The small spoon I found yesterday has the same mark, save for the punch stamp that shows in the larger piece:

The small spoon:

The large spoon:

My basic question is:
How old are these? In the online research and in various books it places S.Kirk and Son as 1846-1861 and then again 1868-1890. After those dates the book says that "Co." was added and then "Inc." was added. If that is the case then both of these spoons are 19th century, but I am not convinced they are. I know the company was bought by Steiff. Did Steiff use the original S.Kirk and Son stamp on Kirk copies and these are from the 1950's? I would not be at all surprised or disappointed, but I'd like to know.

Are these really late 19th century?

Why are the repousse patterns different?

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Brent

Posts: 1502
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 02-11-2006 06:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If you check Rainwater carefully, you'll see that the "Co." was dropped around 1932. All Kirk flatware made after 1932 will have marks similar or identical to yours, which confirms your hunch that the spoons are in fact from the mid to late 20th C.

Kirk Repousse is one of those patterns where you can continually find pieces in sizes and shapes you have not seen before. The bowl decorations on your two pieces are standard for those pieces, but I would not be surprised to see a different one someday.

When I was first starting out collecting, I found that I was always getting hung up on minute details (Why this mark and not that?). As I went on, I learned that for every "rule" you find in a reference book, there is almost always an exception. One would think that manufactured items would be consistent in most details, but they often aren't, especially when it comes to application of marks. Anyway, it may seem frustrating now, but you too will learn when to trust the books and when to "throw them away".

Anyway, you have two of the most popular serving pieces of Repousse. The bowl decoration really makes them special.

Hope this helps!

Brent

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Brent

Posts: 1502
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 02-11-2006 06:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I forgot to mention, after the formation of Kirk-Stieff the flatware continued to be marked with the original company marks. Stieff ROSE is always marked Stieff, Repousse is always marked S. Kirk & Son. I have only seen Kirk-Stieff marks on new holloware and gift items, never flatware (iI'm sure there is an exception). Even brand new Repousse items, which are still being made by whichever conglomerate owns the dies, are marked S. Kirk & Son, even though Kirk-Stieff has ceased to exist.

Brent

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outwest

Posts: 390
Registered: Nov 2005

iconnumber posted 02-11-2006 07:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for outwest     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, Brent!

It is amazing how much run of the mill silver is out there. This estate sale had a lot of silver, but none of it seemed very interesting and most of it was mid century plate.

My gut feelings were that these were mid 20th century, but the books, etc. that I have been referring to seemed to contradict that. Why don't they tell you that the Co. was dropped? Hmm. I have a Rainwater coming in the mail. Maybe that will help.

Because I am a beginner (making me prone to big bungles) I want to be careful and very picky, but at the same time get what I like. In the case of the little spoon I knew that I would use it when I use the other one. It is an interesting shape and a cute size. I don't feel at all bad about it and I like it! That's the most important.

I am waiting to run across something really special. I just need to keep my eyes open.

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FWG

Posts: 845
Registered: Aug 2005

iconnumber posted 02-12-2006 10:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for FWG     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just to clarify a couple of details: According to The Story of the House of Kirk the Oldest Silversmiths in the United States Founded 1815 -- a wonderful pamphlet published by the firm, of which I have the 1930 8th edition -- different 'S. Kirk & Son Co.' marks were used from 1896-1924. From 1924-30 the mark was 'S. Kirk & Son Inc.' So they may have dropped the 'Inc' c.1932, but the 'Co' was already gone.

The marks shown above are identical (or very similar at least) to the ones used by the firm 1868-96, but they seem not to have used a 'sterling' mark at that time (they used either 1015 or 925/1000). Perhaps in the 1930s they began using the actual old punches, or perhaps they just made new ones that looked similar, but with the addition of the sterling punch (which seems to have been added c.1925).

Rainwater is very very good. But she was condensing information in many cases, including Kirk, and some detail got lost along the way. Her illustrations of Kirk marks, BTW, were taken (redrawn, I think) from one of the Kirk pamphlets (where many more are shown).

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carlaz

Posts: 239
Registered: Jan 2001

iconnumber posted 03-01-2006 08:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for carlaz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just to add an interesting update on flatware from Kirk. I have recently come across a sterling punch ladle in the repousse pattern that was marked Kirk-Stieff. It was brand new and directly from the manufacturer. I was unable to confirm if this was a new flatware backstamp with the manufacturer but perhaps because it was a newer, larger piece, they might be implementing a new backstamp? But just wanted to give you the heads up!

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Paul Lemieux

Posts: 1758
Registered: Apr 2000

iconnumber posted 03-01-2006 10:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is not much consistency in marks on current Repoussé items. Some are stamped S KIRK & SON, others are stamped just STIEFF, and others still are marked KIRK-STIEFF, as carlaz noted.

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Tad Hale

Posts: 120
Registered: Jul 2005

iconnumber posted 03-07-2006 10:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tad Hale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Outwest, There are 3 different sizes of these pieces. The Smallest piece is the Bon-Bon spoon, the middle size piece is a Small Berry Spoon and the large piece is the Large Berry Spoon. All 3 of these pieces were Active in the Late 1980's and early 90's.

The marks can be different if the dies are still good, because the company does not want to go to the expense of making new dies just to add new marks to them. Think of what the expense would be to change the marks on the dies of each and every piece of silver that they make.

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outwest

Posts: 390
Registered: Nov 2005

iconnumber posted 03-08-2006 12:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for outwest     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, Tad. Do I have a small berry and a large berry or a bon bon and a large berry? They made these for at least 50 years? They must have been very popular. I think they're SO overdone that they're neat.

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Tad Hale

Posts: 120
Registered: Jul 2005

iconnumber posted 03-08-2006 12:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tad Hale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Outwest, you have the large berry and the bon-bon.

Tad

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outwest

Posts: 390
Registered: Nov 2005

iconnumber posted 03-08-2006 07:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for outwest     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ah. Then I shall hunt for the small berry. wink

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