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Author Topic:   Cattail ice cream spoon
Polly

Posts: 1910
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 07-27-2017 05:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I bought a lovely, well-made ice cream spoon with a cattail handle. It's in a style that was popular in 1860s-70s America, where it was made by such manufacturers as Whiting, George Sharp, Wendt, Gorham, and Wood & Hughes, but this spoon is definitely silverplate, not solid--someone made a notch to test it, and the base metal is showing through. It has an odd mark on the back of the bowl, looks like maybe a dragon or an insect in a shield?

Anyone recognize the mark?




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Polly

Posts: 1910
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 07-27-2017 05:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The mark:


The notch, showing the base metal:

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Polly

Posts: 1910
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 07-31-2017 05:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The seller had two more of the spoons, so I bought them. They have very light traces of gilding on the bowls. I love these spoons.

[This message has been edited by Polly (edited 11-01-2017).]

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agleopar

Posts: 840
Registered: Jun 2004

iconnumber posted 08-01-2017 11:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for agleopar     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great buy Polly, I think these might be a little rare?

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11321
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 08-02-2017 12:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Polly,

The mark looks cast not struck.

Perhaps these were made as a special order after the original dye's were exhausted? Or by a different maker to match. Without the dyes, they would sand cast copies from the original sterling pieces.

I have seen sterling things copied in a base metal and then silver plated. Its an inexpensive way to replace missing family heirlooms.

Whatever is going on, they look great!

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11321
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 08-02-2017 12:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
    "It has an odd mark on the back of the bowl, looks like maybe a dragon or an insect in a shield?"

I am not sure whats in the mark...perhaps a double headed eagle?

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Polly

Posts: 1910
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 08-02-2017 02:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It could well be a double-headed eagle--I bet you're right, Scott.

But I'm pretty sure these spoons are handmade, not cast:

-The scrolly edge at the top of the bowl differs very slightly from spoon to spoon, as if cut by hand
-In each handle, the four individual leaves and the cattail are soldered together, then soldered onto the round part, which is then soldered to the long cylindrical part of the handle; I can see very tiny bits of solder
-The place where the cylindrical part of the handle bends and tapers to connect to the bowl varies from spoon to spoon, clearly handmade
-The pointy indentation in the bowl varies from spoon to spoon, especially on the back
-The bowl edges show tiny raspy marks, as if cut with a saw or file

So I think some of the pieces were cast--the leaves, cattail, and the round bit right under the cattail--and some were handmade or partly handmade (the bowls and the main part of the handle). Then everything was put together and finished by hand. The work is very skillful.

I wish I were a good enough photographer, with a good enough camera, to show these details.

I think the mark looks cast because it was stamped on after the stippled matte surface treatment was applied. I also want to say it's stamped on a slightly different spot on each spoon, but I'm not 100% sure of that.

[This message has been edited by Polly (edited 08-02-2017).]

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Scott Martin
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Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 08-02-2017 02:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You have them to hold (& love) so your judgement takes priority. smile

Show them to Robert the next time he visits.

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Scott Martin
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Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 08-02-2017 05:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm not a silversmith or even a metal smith...............

I've been doing a mental exercise about how I would make a copy from the original.

This is what I came up with:

  • I would make 2 positive plaster castings of the original spoon.

  • I would separate the bowl and top from the center bar into separate plaster castings. Then make adjustments to the bowl and top. For example, eliminate the bar from the bowl plaster casting.

  • Now that I have master forms for the bowl and top, I would next make re-usable (rubber?) negative forms for creating wax positive forms.

  • I would use the wax positive forms to sand cast the bowl and the top with a base metal.

  • resulting in:

  • Next I would then prepare ready made (purchased) base metal bar for attaching the top and bowl. Split the bowl end of the bar and on the other end make a short tang for attaching the top.

  • Drill a small tang sized hole in the base of the top and assemble the separate pieces for soldering and then solder.



  • Clean things up and then silver pate.

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Polly

Posts: 1910
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 08-02-2017 06:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'll leave it to the actual silversmiths to say whether that would be a good method, but I will say that these spoons were not made that way.

The end of the handle was made from at least 6 parts, soldered together: four leaves, the cattail, and the round piece. The bowl was shaped somehow, whether cast or raised or stamped or what, and excess metal was cut off around it to form the elaborately shaped back edge. The part of the handle you're calling the "bar" was pointed and curved at the end to fit against the bowl, then soldered into a slot in the flat part of the bowl the bowl at that end, and to the cattail assemblage at the other. (Your picture of the handle end of the bowl includes a piece that's actually part of the handle, and it fills in the slot where the handle is soldered in.) The matte texture was applied to the bowl. The whole thing was plated with silver, and then the bowl was gilded.

If you gentlemen promise to send them back before the summer is over (because we NEED them here for eating ICE CREAM), I can send one to you and one to agleopar to inspect in person. Or I could send two to agleopar, so he can compare them and see that they are not identical enough to be cast from a single mold.

I may be wrong about how the bowl was made--I don't really know what combination of raising, casting, repousseeing, jigsawing, and soldering on other elements was involved--but I'm 100% sure the cattail end was made by soldering together separate cast pieces.

That's why I really don't think these are casts of a pre-existing sterling/coin piece. I'm confident they were made on their own. I agree it's puzzling that so much hand work went into silverplate, but hey, labor was cheaper back then.

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Polly

Posts: 1910
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 10-06-2017 12:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hey, look at this! A George Sharp ice cream spoon, looks like brother--or at least first cousin--of my cattail spoons. I wonder what the relationship between them is???? Did someone copy a Sharp spoon (simplified, with a different handle end) in silverplate? Am I wrong that this is silverplate? I swear that scratch shows base metal. So strange!
quote:


    Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • Ice Cream Serving Spoon

  • George B. Sharp, American (active Philadelphia), 1819 - 1904

  • Geography: Made in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, North and Central America

  • Date: 1866-1870

  • Medium: Silver

  • Dimensions: 10 7/8 x 2 13/16 inches (27.6 x 7.1 cm) Weight: 4 ounces 2 dwt

  • Curatorial Department: American Art

  • Object Location: Currently not on view

  • Accession Number: 2002-206-14

  • Credit Line: 125th Anniversary Acquisition. Gift of John Whitenight and Frederick LaValley, 2002


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Scott Martin
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Posts: 11321
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 10-06-2017 09:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Did you ever show Robert?

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Polly

Posts: 1910
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 10-06-2017 11:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No, I should send him one. I have a napkin ring that needs to visit Dr. Robert; they could travel together.

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Polly

Posts: 1910
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 11-01-2017 11:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I just bid on but did not win a VERY similar spoon. It's the same, except with cut-outs at the edge of the bowl and a little bright-cutting. The seller described it like this:

"A Very Unique Spoon by George Sharp Philadelphia, PA 1844-1900
5 1/2 inches long
A very Unique Pattern, It is marked and we are not 100 % that its by Sharp, and we don't see a sterling mark
Weight .76 ozt,
Condition - very light surface wear"

They did not show a photo of the mark.

I'm hoping the auction winner is a member of this board and will post about the spoon--especially photos of the mark--or will at least email Scott about the spoon, if he/she doesn't like posting publicly. How I wish I could examine it in person!

Scott, now that the auction is over, would it be okay to link to it or to extract photos from the listing? The seller took good photos (of everything but the mark).

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11321
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 11-01-2017 12:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Polly:
...Scott, now that the auction is over, would it be okay to link to it or to extract photos from the listing? The seller took good photos (of everything but the mark).

Posting the photo will ensure they remain visible ... don't link.

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Polly

Posts: 1910
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 11-01-2017 11:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here we go--thanks, Scott!

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11321
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 11-02-2017 09:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
[img]http://www.smpub.com/ubb/images/17/21-1442-eb-cattail.jpg[\img]
[img]https://www.smpub.com/ubb/images/17/21-1442-eb-cattail.jpg[\img]

In the above:

  • Use only http:// The s should not be used.
  • The [\img] is the wrong image tag, it should be [/img]

Between the image tags [img] [/img] the URL http://www.smpub.com/ubb/images/17/21-1442-eb-cattail.jpg should be used.

We have to reverse engineer the legacy forum Perl/CGI code to eliminate the http: https: issue. Until we get around to doing this please make sure your image URL's don't use https:

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Polly

Posts: 1910
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 11-02-2017 10:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, Scott! I tried the / first, but when it didn't work I tried the \, and then when THAT didn't work I gave up and went to bed. The S issue didn't occur to me.

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Paul Lemieux

Posts: 1758
Registered: Apr 2000

iconnumber posted 11-06-2017 10:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Polly, we can DEFINITELY attribute this pattern to Sharp. I was at an antique shop a few weeks ago and saw it as a mustard ladle. It was clearly marked by George Sharp on the back of the bowl. I was in a hurry and unfortunately didn't think to snap a photo. I didn't buy it as it seemed to have had a small repair where the leaves joined the sides of the cattail...

The shop is not too far from NYC (Summit Antiques Center in NJ). However it was very cheap so perhaps worth it just for its scholarly value.

[This message has been edited by Paul Lemieux (edited 11-06-2017).]

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Polly

Posts: 1910
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 11-06-2017 11:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you, Paul. I wonder how to explain the fact that mine seem to be silver-plate, not solid? Sharp didn't make plate, did they? So strange! It's possible I'm wrong, but it sure looks like a base metal under the notches to me!

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Paul Lemieux

Posts: 1758
Registered: Apr 2000

iconnumber posted 11-07-2017 10:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Definitely a puzzler. The quality seems Sharpian but they are obviously not made by Sharp. I have never encountered that mark before. When I used to buy & sell flatware on a more regular basis, I did encounter a handful of fine quality copies of US makers in English silver plate . The construction paralleled the originals.

On a side note, I love the finish of the bowl. I have learned that the satin finish might have been created by the sandblasting process. Maybe one of our resident silversmiths like FredZ can provide insight on this--I was thinking of buying a small sandblasting machine for the little pieces I make for myself.

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Polly

Posts: 1910
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 11-07-2017 12:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think Rob (agleopar) told me that matte texture is created with acid etching. Rob, did I misunderstand? Or maybe some is acid etched and some is sand blasted?

Paul, if you find yourself in that antiques mall again and the mustard ladle is still there, would you take a few photos for me? Many thanks!

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nutmegr

Posts: 58
Registered: Jun 2005

iconnumber posted 09-27-2019 04:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nutmegr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was just browsing, and thought I’d share an example of the pattern of your spoon - although mine is only a demitasse spoon and does not have the pretty bowl of your ice cream spoon. This is marked for George Sharp, with the word “Patent” being the only other mark. I know your ice cream spoon is silverplate, I believe this is coin and it seems clearly to be the pattern on which yours was based (if not cast directly.)






I realize this is a very old post - I’m just trying to ease my way into posting again! (And test posting pictures...)
——————————
Lisa

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June Martin
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Posts: 1210
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 09-28-2019 12:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for June Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Good job, Lisa. I must admit that I missed this thread the first time around so thanks for bringing it back to life.

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Polly

Posts: 1910
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 09-29-2019 09:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Bingo, Lisa!

Now I wonder whether George Sharp ever made silver-plate.

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