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doobees

Posts: 277
Registered: Jan 2003

iconnumber posted 06-12-2003 04:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for doobees     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Tah-dah!!! I quizzed Christofle...

I have to say they were very generous with their time. I had over 2 hours to ask questions... I have to sort it all out before it all gets posted, so bear with me.

I can answer a few things right here and now:

Did christofle buy patents from Elkington and Ruolz?
- Yes! The Elkington cousins had invented the electroplate process in England and Ruolz had almost the same patent in France. Christofle bought up both patents in 1842 and then was the only one to use the process here for the 15 years of the patent. The company Ercuis, our most serious electroplate competitor started silverplating in 1864. Silver plated using the electroplate process is called "M�tal Argent�." Plaqu� or Doubl� is almost the same, but not done using electricity... c.1800 and done on copper not brass.

What happened in 1935 to change their marks?
- Prior to 1935, three families owned the company (Charles,his son and a nephew, and after Charles' death, just the son and nephew - their mark was CC for "Compagnie Christofle." In 1935, it was owned by just one family and the soci�t� Christofle (referred to as "the firm" by the employees!) decided to change the mark to OC for "Ofevr�rie Christofle." M. Gross could not say for sure why they had chosen the goat's head (she insisted that it was a boy goat!) or the horse chess piece... they just came up with it and thought it looked nice (?), as far as M. Gross knew.

Did Christofle ever use other marks than the Christofle marks regularly seen as the scales, Bee with Stars, rooster for Gallia?
-Yes, from time to time esp. for a line in a new material like copper or brass.
Did Christofle ever make things that sold without their mark?
- Yes, sometimes they did make pieces for other companies - like a line for Herm�s which did not bear any reference to them, even though the pieces were made by them.
Which others?
- Hard to say... since they were not marked Christofle!!! DUH!

What is "M�tal alliage Blanc?"
What is "M�tal Blanc?"
What is Alfenide? Alpacca?
- Nothing other than plain ol' maillechort or also called nickel silver. Nickel is always used in an alloy never as a base on it's own. Typically for hotel, restaurant and ocean liners that would get a lot of wear and tear. It was very hard so the designs were fairly simple and it was always plated. It never posed as a faux silver though white in color... Anyone had/has the right to use it.


I'll quit for now. I want a clear head to get into the numbers, what they mean - thicknesses - weights and all that.

And another time, I'll get onto the marks.

Phew! smile

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Suzanne D

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Stephen

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iconnumber posted 06-12-2003 11:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Stephen     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great information, Suzanne. Thanks for sharing it.

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doobees

Posts: 277
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iconnumber posted 06-13-2003 05:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for doobees     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Christofle questions cont'd:

Is there a company called "Alfenide?"
- No... The name "Alfenide" belonged to Christofle. "Alfenide" is never used by Christofle after 1935. When the firm decided to change the marks, they also decided not to continue using "alfenide" - they decided on "Métal Blanc" instead. Anyone can use and stamp the words "métal blanc" or "métal alliage blanc," but if it's made by Christofle, you'll see the chess piece or the name Christofle nearby.

Can you discuss Charles Halphen's assoc. with Christofle?
-Charles made cutlery for Christofle prior to 1878, which is the date that Christofle opened the Saint-Denis factory. Charles Halphen made the alfenide pieces for Christofle and they stamped these pieces with the Christofle mark and "Alfenide."
When Charles Halphen made pieces for himself, both pre and post 1848, he stamped it either with a CH or Halphen. Halphen never used "alfenide" on his pieces unless in conjunction with Christofle. The name belonged to Christofle.
Halphen's good relationship with Christofle ended in 1864, after Charles Halphen died. The "widow" Halphen made pieces for Christofle but, between 1864 and 1878, she was always in legal contention with Christofle and they spent a lot of time in court together. It was for this reason that Christofle decided to open his own plant in 1878. There has been no association with them since then.

What is La Société Anonyme Des Couverts Alfenide?
- The name used by an informal group of many companies who use alfenide... no one company in particular. Hence, the "Anonyme."

I have seen spoons marked "Métal Blanc IX" with also "Bel Ves 15 gr" What does all that tell me?
- Nothing important... An insignificant company with a thickness of 15 gr of silver distributed over 12 of the same pieces. There can be slight differences in the proportios of the nickel content in the alloy maillechort, depending on the use. The IX refers to that particular maillechort "recipe."

We know that there was an alfenide exporter in Brazil. Let me ask specifically about a collector who has a Casa Muzard fishknife marked Alfenide and also has another square mark with a goat head and the number 8 and 4 on either side of it, but the dessert spoons of the same pattern have 6 then 0 - instead of the 84. Does that say that there was a different quality for different pieces of the same service?
- No - the 84 refers to the amount of silver in grams that it took to plate 12 fishknives in the same size and with the same decoration... Since the dessert spoons are smaller it took only 60gr to plate them. The same quality and the same thickness, but different amounts needed for different size pieces in sets of 12.

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Suzanne D

[This message has been edited by doobees (edited 06-14-2003).]Christofle questions cont'd:

Is there a company called "Alfenide?"
- No... The name "Alfenide" belonged to Christofle. "Alfenide" is never used by Christofle after 1935. When the firm decided to change the marks, they also decided not to continue using "alfenide" - they decided on "M�tal Blanc" instead. Anyone can use and stamp the words "m�tal blanc" or "m�tal alliage blanc," but if it's made by Christofle, you'll see the chess piece or the name Christofle nearby.

Can you discuss Charles Halphen's assoc. with Christofle?
-Charles made cutlery for Christofle prior to 1878, which is the date that Christofle opened the Saint-Denis factory. Charles Halphen made the alfenide pieces for Christofle and they stamped these pieces with the Christofle mark and "Alfenide."
When Charles Halphen made pieces for himself, both pre and post 1848, he stamped it either with a CH or Halphen. Halphen never used "alfenide" on his pieces unless in conjunction with Christofle. The name belonged to Christofle.
Halphen's good relationship with Christofle ended in 1864, after Charles Halphen died. The "widow" Halphen made pieces for Christofle but, between 1864 and 1878, she was always in legal contention with Christofle and they spent a lot of time in court together. It was for this reason that Christofle decided to open his own plant in 1878. There has been no association with them since then.

What is La Soci�t� Anonyme Des Couverts Alfenide?
- The name used by an informal group of many companies who use alfenide... no one company in particular. Hence, the "Anonyme."

I have seen spoons marked "M�tal Blanc IX" with also "Bel Ves 15 gr" What does all that tell me?
- Nothing important... An insignificant company with a thickness of 15 gr of silver distributed over 12 of the same pieces. There can be slight differences in the proportios of the nickel content in the alloy maillechort, depending on the use. The IX refers to that particular maillechort "recipe."

We know that there was an alfenide exporter in Brazil. Let me ask specifically about a collector who has a Casa Muzard fishknife marked Alfenide and also has another square mark with a goat head and the number 8 and 4 on either side of it, but the dessert spoons of the same pattern have 6 then 0 - instead of the 84. Does that say that there was a different quality for different pieces of the same service?
- No - the 84 refers to the amount of silver in grams that it took to plate 12 fishknives in the same size and with the same decoration... Since the dessert spoons are smaller it took only 60gr to plate them. The same quality and the same thickness, but different amounts needed for different size pieces in sets of 12.

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Suzanne D

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Patrick Vyvyan

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iconnumber posted 06-13-2003 10:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Patrick Vyvyan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Suzanne, this is great and many, many thanks for taking the time to discuss my pieces.

However some details still elude me!!!!

Quote 1: "The name "Alfenide" belonged to Christofle."

Quote 2: "What is La Société Anonyme Des Couverts Alfenide?
- The name used by an informal group of many companies who use alfenide... no one company in particular. Hence, the "Anonyme.""

Don't I detect a contradiction here? The implication of the first is that Alfenide = Christofle.

We've had this in a previous posting: "I have a wonderful serving ladle that is marked Christofle, alfe nide, also has a stamp of a scale with 2 stars above and a "C" on either side."

But we've also had Stephen's posting of an Absinthe spoon marked HALPHEN and ALFE NIDE.

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doobees

Posts: 277
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iconnumber posted 06-13-2003 10:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for doobees     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
(I'll do the best that I can to clear up confusion. The good news is that that was not our last chance to ask Christofle questions; They have given me carte blanche to call anytime with questions or to schedule another session if needed... I'll begin a new question list and start it with: Is there a time limit for a registered name? Or did they just not care if others used it? We have a piece marked Halphen Alfe nide. This seems to go against the fact that you say Halphen never used the word Alfenide. Could this be another trip to the courtroom for the widow Halphen?
...and I also spent sooooo much time quizzing that I had no time for the tour - esp. since there was a partial Métro strike and they wanted to get home before the rush. They have suggested the alternate date of June 27, but I have houseguests then and do not know if I can get away.)

I would think the name "Alfenide" belonging to Christofle must have had a time limit to it, like the 15 year time limit for the electroplate patent. She was very clear that Chirstofle owned the name "Alfenide" and she was also clear that others later used it too.

In the case of the serving ladle with Christofle, alfe nide, the scale and stars with CC. I'd say Christofle alfenide pre 1935, since the CC was pre 1935 and they decided not to use "Alfenide" after that date too.

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Suzanne D

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doobees

Posts: 277
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iconnumber posted 06-13-2003 12:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for doobees     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Christofle cont'd:

Is it possible to get or buy a copy of the 1983 regulations concerning silverplate?
- You can get a copy from the Assay office in the Marais... (BINGO!)

We note a reference to "Titre minimal de 500 millièmes." Does this relate to electroplate or regulations for silverplating?
- This is not a normal mark for France. Since 1950 the minimum for sterling is 800% pureness. For silverplate it would be more like 33microns for a thickness, not 500! ... so this reference of 500 does not make sense to me.

What do the I or II quality designations tell us?

  • There is a table that illustrates the minimum thickness for different categories of silver in two levels of quality. The categories in each quality level include:
    -The main pieces of a flatware service - the knives, forks, spoons, demi-tasse spoons, etc. They have specific requirements relating to the piece and the areas of first wear; for example, a fork needs more thickness at the end of the tines and the two places where it would touch the table when it was put down. For a spoon the area beneath the deepest part of the bowl would wear off first and the tip of the handle. The objects in this category have specific regulations concerning the distribution of the silverplate.
  • The "Other Pieces" in this catagory are the serving pieces like serving spoons, ladles, aspagagus servers and the like.
  • For holloware: the "Food pieces" are the dishes, cups, trays, bonbon dishes, etc.. The "Decor" pieces would refer to the candleabra, jardinières, candleholders, placecard holders... anything to do with setting a table, but not used for eating per se. The "Other" category is for objects totally unrelated to dinner like picture frames, ornamental animals, cigarette lighters and such.

All of these categories have 2 quality levels - I or II. So you could find a dish that had 9 microns as minimum and also a jardinière that required a minimum of 10 mircons... You don't eat with the jardinière so it does not appear logical. The difference is in the quality levels.

(From Suzanne: Arg(um)entum's great table illustrating this would come in real handy right about now...) [Here it is.]

Since 1983, silverplate pieces are marked with a square with the I or II, the maker's initials, and the maker's symbol. The square is slightly rounded off on top for imported objects.

What is the décret n°92-631 du 8/07/1982?
- A good question for the assay office...

Do you have any info on tolerances? Codes?
- No, sorry - it's not my "truc" (thing), I do not know the answers and do not know where to readily put my hand on the info, at any rate, it's best to ask these questions at the assay office.

Concerning the ancient codes pre- 1983; We know that there have been regulations concerning silverplate for 200 years since Jan., 6, 1798. It stated that silverplated objects had to bear a square mark. Can we assume that there were changes in the regulations at some point since then?
- No... honestly not. Rules pre-1983 dealt with non-plated pieces - sterling.

We often see a number like 84. Is this due to a pre-1983 regulation?
- No, for us that would be the date.This can be confusing if you try to date a piece this way because the piece could have been in a warehouse for even 10 years, then finally distributed when the fashion or economy or whatever made it a better climate for it to sell well. That piece would still have the fabrication date, however and might not match the other marks for the date.

What is the best way to date youe pieces?
- By pattern.

Do you have catalogs or reference books that show them?
- No, they are all in archives, but you can take pictures of the ones displayed across the street at the museum. (I did, lots!)

How do you suggest I start to date a piece I find?
- Call us... anytime, with the marks and numbers. There will often be a 5-6-or 7 digit number on the bottom (with the 5 digit being the oldest and the 7 digit numbers the newest.) That number makes no sense to you, but we can look it up and then date it.

One collector that I know has a piece with 421 on it. What is that?
- That is mismarked, if it is Christofle. There are either the two numbers for the date or the 5-6-7 numbers relating to the pattern number + individual numbers in squares to tell the weight in Grams of pure silver laid.


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Suzanne D

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doobees

Posts: 277
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iconnumber posted 06-13-2003 02:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for doobees     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Christofle cont'd:

What can you tell me about the mandatory marks?
- A lot! I'll do it by date.

For sterling:
- Between 1797 and 1838 there were three marks required: A mark of Titre (fineness)expressed in millièmes (%) - a Guarantie which says the fineness has been verified by the assay office and the maker's mark.
These marks evolved with the two reforms of Nov. 1, 1809 and Aug. 16, 1819.
- From 1797 to 1809 a cock. From 1809 to 1819, also a cock but in a different frame. Followed by the head of a man 1819 to 1838.
Thereafter the guarantee was symbolized by the heads of men or warriors. The maker's marks were the signature or symbol of the maker in either a horizontal or verticle lozenge.
- 1838 to 1973: There were just 2 mandatory marks, since they decided that the pureness mark be incorporated into the Guarantee mark with either a 1 or 2 depending on fineness... that just left the guarantee and the maker's mark.
Guarantee marks were:The Tête de Minerve for Paris and the same head without the lock of hair for the different departments.The Boar's head (abolished in 1961) and the crab (abolished in 1984.) Imported articles were marked with a "charanchon" (a bug!) or a swan.

Since 1973: The guarantee and the maker's marks. in 1972, the finance laws lowered the minimum quality requirement to 925 instead of .950 and so they also changed the Guarantee mark for first quality by changing the placement of the 1 to the back of Minerve's neck instead of at the forehead.

For silverplate: Up to 1983, the silverplated items carried the maker's mark in a square ( instituted in 1860) but it did not define the fineness or the thickness or the layer of silver deposited on the item. So then came the Reforme de Garantie de 1983.
The reform of 1983 gave us the I and II quality marks in a square that also contained the initials of the maker and the maker's symbol. (The square slightly rounded off for imports.) This way the table could be referred to to find the minimum normal requirements on a certain category of object.

Are there restrictions on what marks could be placed besides these two?
- Not at all, you could put the name of the collection, the model number, the name of the store, the kind of base used, the name of your child... what you had for breakfast - anything at all as long as the two mandatory marks are there too.

These Christofle marks are different from the ones we discussed earlier. When were they used?

- They aren't marks, they're commerical symbols, like trademarks that we use on the doorknob and the flag in front of the stores and also on our boxes and catalogues. Now, though, we just write out "Christofle."


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Suzanne D

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doobees

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iconnumber posted 06-13-2003 06:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for doobees     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Confusing isn't it! I wrote as fast as Ms. Gros spoke, but I can only hope it got it all straight. Anyway, Anne Gros (who was neither big nor gross), their museum curator, gave me her Email address should we have an "I think Suzanne got the answer wrong" emergency....

When I get the 1983 regulations, I plan to pass that along to anyone else who might want to sift through it... it's not my "truc" either. Any volunteers? No rush - I'm off to the states for a spur of the moment trip to see les bébés. I'll be gone about 10 days and won't get to the assay office for two weeks at the earliest.

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Suzanne D

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Patrick Vyvyan

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iconnumber posted 06-13-2003 11:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Patrick Vyvyan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
French laws, decrees etc. are apparently available at: http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr

I tried searching for décret 92-631 of 8/07/1982, and I think there is an error. 92-631 seems to mean it was issued in 1992. This is the title:

Décret 92-631 1992-07-08, 1992-07-08, Décret relatif aux matériaux et objets destinés à entrer en contact avec les denrées, produits et boissons pour l'alimentation de l'homme ou des animaux, D0, V : En Vigueur

The full text is available, but glancing quickly at it, I can't see it has much to do with silver.

Much more interesting would be law 83-558 of the 1st. July 1983 which among other things established the marks on French silverplate. It is listed but I can't get to the full text, possibly because it has been amended and is no longer in force.

I'm no lawyer and my French ain't so hot either, so perhaps someone else with an international legal qualification and a gift for languages might like to attack the site.

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Scott Martin
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iconnumber posted 06-14-2003 01:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My ability with French is almost non-existent ... but with the help of computer translation I stumbled upon this at the www.legifrance.gouv.fr site.

in French:

quote:
Direction des Journaux Officiels

Décret du 5 mars 1927

Décret relatif aux objets d'or ou d'argent et à l'emploi des termes "plaqué" ou "doublé" au point de vue de la garantie

Article 1
Il est interdit d'insculper les termes "plaqué" ou "doublé", complétés ou non par l'indication du métal précieux employé, sur des ouvrages de fabrication nationale ou étrangère qui ne sont pas effectivement recouverts d'une feuille de métal précieux, ou qui ne laissent pas subsister une coquille après dissolution du métal commun. L'insculpation des mots "plaqué" ou "doublé" doit, dans tous les cas, être suivie de la désignation du métal précieux et du procédé de fabrication adopté.


computer translated

quote:
Direction of the Official Journals

Decree of March 5, 1927

Decree relating to the objects of gold or money and with plated "or" doubled "use of the terms the" from the point of view of the guarantee

Article 1
It is interdict to hallmark the terms "plated" or "doubled", supplemented or not by the indication of the noble metal employed, on works of manufacture national or foreign which are not actually covered with an invaluable metal sheeting, or which do not let remain a shell after dissolution of the base metal. The insculpation of the words "plated" or "doubled" owes, in all the cases, being followed by the designation of the noble metal and the manufacturing process adopted.


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doobees

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iconnumber posted 06-14-2003 03:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for doobees     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm no lawyer either, but le franais is no problem for me.
With the computer translations you almost always have to substitute the word "silver" for their translated word "money" - (though you can have a good laugh before you do like in the case of the silver dental fillings and the thought of stuffing money in your mouth)"Argent" is the french word for both money and silver.
This dcre concerns both gold and silver. It is just saying that it's prohibited to hallmark the terms "plated" or "doubled," whether followed by the name of a precious metal or not, on objects not actually having been covered with a sheet of the precious metal or for objects that would not have any remaining precious metals after the base is dissolved. This applies to both French and foreign pieces.
"Plated" or "doubled" must, in all cases, state the precious metal and the process used.

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Suzanne D

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Stephen

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iconnumber posted 06-14-2003 04:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Stephen     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Suzanne, I have some questions to add but will do it before you return from your trip.

[This message has been edited by Stephen (edited 06-14-2003).]

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Arg(um)entum

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iconnumber posted 06-29-2003 10:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Arg(um)entum     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great information, Suzanne! Its tough making notes during a conversation and even tougher figuring them out afterwards. Maybe, once the lady gets to know you, she'll let you tape a session. But then some people won't.

I have a few comments and questions. Some might be resolved once you ask them of the assay office. It is understandable that a person whose job is to rummage around the Christoffle history, may have a view of the world coloured by that. The assay office may add some context for you. Thanks for undertaking this for us.

Doobees: 6-12-2003 4:41pm:
What is "Métal alliage Blanc?"
What is "Métal Blanc?"
What is Alfenide? Alpacca?
- Nothing other than plain ol' maillechort or also called nickel silver.

If 'Metal Blanc' is an alloy that includes nickel what term is there for our plain 'white metal' i.e. containing no nickel?

6-12-2003 4:41pm:Plaqué or Doublé is almost the same, but not done using electricity... c.1800 and done on copper not brass.
06-13-2003 05:19 AM:... since Jan., 6, 1798. It stated that silverplated objects had to bear a square mark. Can we assume that there were changes in the regulations at some point since then?

- No... honestly not. Rules pre-1983 dealt with non-plated pieces - sterling.
06-13-2003 12:51 PM :so this reference of 500 does not make sense to me
06-14-2003 03:35 AM :It is just saying that it's prohibited to hallmark the terms "plated" or "doubled," ...
06-13-2003 02:38 PM :... the silverplated items carried the maker's mark in a square ( instituted in 1860) but...

Here is my take on it all: The english term 'plated' today implies electroplated, while 'plaqué' and 'doublé' refer to physical plating (a la 'Sheffield Plate'), as still used today for some jewellery and watch cases.

The 500 milliemes refer to the fineness of the silver used in this process (CGI551).

The 1796 law dealt obviously not with electroplated ware but with plaqué/doublé.

And the square mark adopted in 1798 for the mechanically plated ware of that day was extended or adapted in 1860 to the new electro plating technology.


06-13-2003 05:19 AM :Is there a company called "Alfenide?" - No... The name "Alfenide" belonged to Christofle. "Alfenide" is never used by Christofle after 1935.
What is La Société Anonyme Des Couverts Alfenide? - The name used by an informal group of many companies who use alfenide... no one company in particular. Hence, the "Anonyme."
I would think the name "Alfenide" belonging to Christofle must have had a time limit to it, like the 15 year time limit for the electroplate patent.

Patrick pointed out the contradiction here. Also, 'Société Anonyme' (frequently abbreviated 'S.A.') is the French term for a shareholder owned company (think 'Inc.', 'Ltd.', 'A.B.', 'A.G.', etc.).
Patents have a limited life but I believe that trade names can be re-registered indefinitely (Think of 'Coca-Cola'). So what rights did Chr. have in Alfenide? The term 'alfenide' became part of the common language (and not just the French) long before 1935; I believe, before the turn of the century.
You may want to try the question once more.


06-13-2003 05:19 AM :- No - the 84 refers to the amount of silver in grams that it took to plate 12 fishknives in the same size and with the same decoration...
06-13-2003 12:51 PM :We often see a number like 84. Is this due to a pre-1983 regulation?
- No, for us that would be the date..

A bit of contradiction.


06-13-2003 06:46 PM: When I get the 1983 regulations, ... it's not my "truc" either. Any volunteers?
Sure, I'll bite.

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sylver*2003

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iconnumber posted 07-06-2003 06:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for sylver*2003     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hello, I'm new at this site and I would like to know how you attached your photo's to your topic - If I have my pictures on A drive (on Disk) - how do I attach them like you have. Sylver

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wineantique

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iconnumber posted 07-15-2003 07:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for wineantique     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
BRAVO et mille mercis!I look forward to the silver content part. You are very generous to share!

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doobees

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iconnumber posted 07-15-2003 04:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for doobees     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm back for the week.... Phew - now what do I need to sort out on this Christofle stuff?

I'll take the questions, make a list and then get back to Mme. Gross with out questions and discrepe(a?)ncies. A trip back'll have to wait till Sept. though - we're off for the annual "everyone leave Paris for the whole month..." sojourn.

Then I'll get to the assay office too. Promise! Geez... time flies!

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Suzanne D

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Susan
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iconnumber posted 07-15-2003 07:52 PM           Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, Suzanne--after stumbling around learning about this marvelous site, I finally ended up in the Silverplate section.

My interest: ALFENIDE!!

Because?---- I love France and flatware, and I just received some family silverplate which I wanted to identify--hoping it was Christofle!! Little did I know how fun it would be to start learning about it. Thanks to some advice from Patrick Vyvyan, I have followed all of the threads I could find and have printed them out in order to see what I can learn from them. So much information!

Anyway, since you are leaving again fairly soon, I wanted to let you know that in my recent search on Google for Alfenide I found a link to the French eBay site of a seller who offered (item no longer available, but didn't sell!) a 68 page 1902 copy of"Manufacture de L'Alfenide --Tarif de Couverts & Petite Orfevrerie." After looking closely at the pictures I downloaded for my files, I discovered you can just barely discern the Goat and Alfenide symbols on the cover! Unfortunately, I am still not an expert in French, but tried to write a note to the seller anyway to ask them to relist the book. No response.

Since you are fluent in French, I wanted to let you know about the link. Perhaps you might be able to do something with the information. I would love to identify my flatware pattern--the photos in the book show several different ones, but the auction images are not good enough quality to really tell (even enhancing using PhotoShop!).


Do A web search for alfenide and it will show up there.

You are certainly the one who has done the most work concerning Alfenide--so I thought this new bit of info might be of help.

Hope this reply reaches you before you leave again.

Merci!

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Patrick Vyvyan

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iconnumber posted 07-16-2003 01:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Patrick Vyvyan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
An Alfenide cataloge? Like Pavlov's dogs, I'm begining to salivate.

Susan, please can you post the photos you downloaded as I can't seem to get them. If you can't post them, could you please e-mail them to me (patrickvyvyan@123.cl).

I have this obsession that Christofle and goats just don't mix.

If the item is still for sale, I'll go in part in exchange for a photocopy.

And, Doobees, welcome back after your holidays. I'm surprised the French authorities allowed you out so soon after your "acquision" of that rather loud Christofle water heater thing.

Patrick

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Susan
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iconnumber posted 07-16-2003 01:29 PM           Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, Patrick--we may never actually see a copy of the book, since I checked my French eBay link again and took more time to translate things. It seems someone DID buy it--their French eBay user name is "humul". So, I suppose the only way to even try to find out about it would be to write to the winner. That has to be done through eBay.

I will email the photos to you ASAP. I haven't added the extras to my system yet for posting. That will be soon! Once I do, I will post them for the ALFENIDE enthusiasts if the quality is good enough. Or, if you would like, you could post them instead.


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doobees

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iconnumber posted 07-17-2003 05:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for doobees     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Before I hit the road, I thought I'd email our questions to Mme; Gros at Christofle. Here are the things that I have asked her to try to clear up for us:

-What is "Métal alliage Blanc?"
-What is "Métal Blanc?"
-What is Alfenide? Alpacca?
Mme. Gros: - Nothing other than plain ol' maillechort or also called nickel silver.

Our question: If 'Metal Blanc' is an alloy that includes nickel what term is there for our plain 'white metal' i.e. containing no nickel?


-What is Plaqué or Doublé?
Mme. Gros: Plaqué or Doublé is almost the same, but not done using electricity... c.1800 and done on copper not brass.

Our question: Does this mean that the english term 'plated' today implies electroplated, while 'plaqué' and 'doublé' refer to physical plating?

-One of the students has a piece with 500 on the bottom. What is the 500 referring to?
Mme. Gros: Silver is a pureness of 800 or higher - so this reference of 500 does not make sense to me.

Our question: Could the 500 milliemes refer to the fineness of the silver used in this plating or plaqué process?

- Since Jan., 6, 1798. the silverplated items carried the maker's mark in a square. - The 1796 law dealt obviously not with electroplated ware, which was pre 1800, but with plaqué/doublé - Can we assume that there were changes in the regulations at some point since then?
-Mme. Gros: - No... honestly not. All other rules pre-1983 dealt with non-plated pieces - sterling.

Question: Is this a correct understanding of pre-1983 rules for silverplate?

-The square mark adopted in 1798 for the mechanically plated ware of that day seems to have been adapted in 1860 to the new electro plating technology.

Our question: Is this a correct understanding to the regulations as of 1860?


-Is there a company called "Alfenide?"
-Mme. Gros: - No... The name "Alfenide" belonged to Christofle. "Alfenide" is never used by Christofle after 1935.

Question: We see lots of references to alfenide pre-1935 that do not refer exclusively to Christofle. Did Christofle have a legal right to the name "Alfenide" and was there a time limit attached to the exclusive right to use the name? We ask this because we have an absynthe spoon that bears the marks Halphen Alfe nide.

-What is La Société Anonyme Des Couverts Alfenide? -
Mme. Gros: The name used by an informal group of many companies who use alfenide... no one company in particular.

Our question: How could they name the company "Société Anonyme Des Couverts Alfenide" if alfenide belonged to Christofle. Is "Société" a term for a company, like the term "Cie" or Ltd?

(Mme. Gros, in my notes, I have contradicted myself on this. Could you restate your answer for me?)
- We have some pieces marked "84" Is this a date or is this a silver content mark in response to a pre-1983 regulation?
-MMe. Gros: For us that would be the date..
-Mme. Gros: ... the 84 refers to the amount of silver in grams that it took to plate 12 fishknives in the same size and with the same decoration...

Question: Is this a date, or does this refer to the amount of silver in grams used?

-Does the goat's head appear as a mark of Christofle?
Mme. Gros: Yes... and it's actually a male goat.

Question: Could you possibly send a photo of this mark, since some of the students insist that the goat's head mark is actually Halphen's.

En plus - et si vous êtes agréable, je voudrais demander si notre compréhension (suivant) étaient correct: (Please review the following to be sure that I have understood correctly.)


1. Alfenide is generally used to refer to a white coloured alloy that was invented by Charles Halphen.
2. Halphen worked closely with Christofle, supplying the latter with the metal, until, Halphen died and his widow fell out with Christofle
3. The goat's head is a Christofle mark.
4. The goat's head was also used by Charles Halphen, so its NOT exclusively Christofle
5. The 84 probably refers to the number of grams of silver required to plate 12 covers. Other variations include 60 and 18.
6. A French company called ALFENIDE may have existed, possibly formed by Halphen's widdow.

_________
smile
Lets see where this gets us. Feel free to add to or edit these questions before I Email her. I'll wait till Friday before I send it... (I hope we get a response before I'm away from my computer!)

------------------
Suzanne D

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Arg(um)entum

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iconnumber posted 07-17-2003 10:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Arg(um)entum     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Suzanne,

You are indefatigable! To your last post about querying Mme Gros again, I have only two things to add:
1. on the question of the .500 fineness of material used in plaqué and doublé, it occurs to me that .500 is too low for silver used for that purpose but is quite reasonable for gold.

The act deals with 'metal precieux'. So there may be an explanation there. Since Christoffle may never have produced any of these, Mme Gros probably wouldn't be too familiar with them. You are more likely to get an authoritative answer on this at the assay office. I'd also love to know the exact difference between 'doublé' and 'plaqué'.

2. The question about how 'Alfenide' is used, probably has many answers that depend on time and place. Mme Gros most obviously is focused on the role that it played in Christoffle's history.

But its use in several languages in a generic sense must caution us to the possibility that in France too, it had various levels of usage. (I recently came across two more instances of it being used by German retailers between 1900 and 1920).

You have developed a great resource in Mme. Gros and I am (as surely are many others) thankful to you for sharing your information. I hope that you don't feel that just because some of us have pointed out some inconsistencies or gaps, you must present these to her.

It is quite possible that the assay office is in a better position to shed light on some points than she is. If that turns out to be true, then that would reduce the number of questions on which you want to revisit her previous answers. All in the interest of keeping your resource sweet for future needs!

If it means that you don't get to resolve these things until the fall, so be it! Most of us ought to be enjoying the summer outdoors and looking forward to the long evenings of fall and winter for these research activities.


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doobees

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iconnumber posted 07-17-2003 02:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for doobees     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you so much for your thoughts. I needed the feedback. I was struggling with getting the questions resolved but not wanting to burn out Mme. Gros with too many questions. If we're in no hurry, then I'd much rather wait till the Fall and go back for another one-on-one session. I fear she may run like the wind when she sees all this on her computer - and though I plan to do it a bit at a time, I fear she'd come to loathe the sight of a message from me.

I am also fluent in verbal French, but not always correct grammatically with the written French. Face-to-face, rather than present it to her in English.... a language that she struggles with, I could present it in French.

I'll save the list and, when I return, I'll first sort out all the non-Christofle focused questions and bring that to the assay office...

D'accord? (Do we agree?)
Bien!

Phew - that's a much better plan! smile smile smile

Merci.

------------------
Suzanne D

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doobees

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iconnumber posted 07-17-2003 02:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for doobees     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Patrick,
The water heater was tricky to get through customs... I'm not even gonna think about acquiring a châsse (see D'Armant - Caillat orfèvre post) and trying to get that by them. Tell you what though - I can routinely declare and carry 18 bottles of nice wine to the USA and have never been made to pay customs. Life is good!

smile

------------------
Suzanne D

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Patrick Vyvyan

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iconnumber posted 07-17-2003 04:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Patrick Vyvyan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Suzanne,

I quite agree with Arg(um)entum that we should not over-burden Madame Gross too much or too soon.

I've posted Susan's catalogue photos as a new thread. I'll try to draft an Alfenide resumé of all we have discovered to date and I'll add it to that thread.

Did you see my Charles Halphen marks on the wine-taster that I picked up here in Chile of all places? They're in the Christofle goats head thread.

I'm now pretty certain that the old goat was a mark for a completely different company which rivaled Christofle in the late 19th / early 20th centuries.

What do you call a reliquary for tall people? A châsse longue....

Sorry

Patrick

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doobees

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iconnumber posted 07-18-2003 02:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for doobees     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
biggrin biggrin biggrin

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Suzanne D

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adelapt

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iconnumber posted 10-13-2011 07:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for adelapt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for bringing this old post (and the others) back from the dead Scott. And I'm sure I'm not the only one who misses "doobees" aka Suzanne, with her lively interest.

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