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tline3open  Only three British hallmarks. Why?

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Author Topic:   Only three British hallmarks. Why?
Tallybalt

Posts: 3
Registered: Jun 2019

iconnumber posted 08-01-2019 09:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tallybalt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I came across a set of George III flatware being offered at an auction. The quality of the photos isn't the best but I can tell there are only three hallmarks. A lion (sterling), some vague symbol that may be either castle tower similar to a rook on a chessboard (location?) or the profile of a face, and a big G (year). There is no makers' mark. The last part is what I find most intriguing as it seems like a solid quality set of Georgian flatware, fiddle thread with shell. The flatware has both monograms and crest on all pieces.

Does anyone know why a makers' mark would not be included? I searched the forum but the only comparable topics I could find were the missing location mark.

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ahwt

Posts: 2124
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 08-02-2019 07:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I do not know why the sponsors mark is not on these pieces as it is my understanding that this was a requirement of British law. I think the thought behind this was to ensure that the maker could be found if the silver content later turned out to be not up the sterling standard.
Since a large number of items were not marked it appears the sponsors mark was intentionally left off.
Exeter and Edinburgh both used a castle to denote their town and that may be what looks like a rook to you.

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Kimo

Posts: 1595
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 08-02-2019 03:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You would need to show some photos - both of the overall flatware pieces as well as closeups of the markings and areas around the markings. One possible reason might be the overall size and shape would have made applying the maker's markings difficult. Another might be that the maker's markings were not struck deeply and they have since worn off. Another might be that the markings that are present are spurious. Another might be that the markings are pseudo-hallmarks applied by a Hanau maker (Hanau makers made silver to look old and applied pseudo-hallmarks that look like British hallmarks but are not. Or . . . ???

[This message has been edited by Kimo (edited 08-02-2019).]

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CrescentCitySilver

Posts: 4
Registered: Jun 2019

iconnumber posted 08-03-2019 05:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for CrescentCitySilver     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Maybe it’s a plated reproduction, perhaps hotel silver?

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Tallybalt

Posts: 3
Registered: Jun 2019

iconnumber posted 08-05-2019 02:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tallybalt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


It eventually sold for [snip], double the estimate, so I don't doubt it's sterling. I'm still intrigued by the three marks and missing maker's mark and the auction house confirmed all spoons and forks only have those three marks, suggesting it was made as a set.

[This message has been edited by Scott Martin (edited 08-05-2019).]

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wev
Moderator

Posts: 4084
Registered: Apr 99

iconnumber posted 08-05-2019 02:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Granting that the auction image of the marks is very poor, I don't believe these are British wares, but American. The marks are very similar to the wholesale marks attributed to Benjamin Gurnee in NYC c 1820, a much more likely source of quality goods for a well healed Livingston NY family. This is perhaps why the final price was a good measure above what a set of anonymous English wares would bring.

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Tallybalt

Posts: 3
Registered: Jun 2019

iconnumber posted 08-05-2019 06:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tallybalt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ah! Looks like we have an answer. So some American silversmith borrowed the British hallmarks possibly to demonstrate that the silver was fully silver and not coin? I'm assuming he used the lion symbol for this reason?

If that's the case then I'm sorry I didn't bid!

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wev
Moderator

Posts: 4084
Registered: Apr 99

iconnumber posted 08-05-2019 07:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A whole variety of marks were used in combination by numerous manufacturers, especially in New York. I suspect few folks buying such goods had a clue about English hallmarks or their implication; they likely saw these marks simply as an assurance of quality backed by the word of the maker/retailer.

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Kimo

Posts: 1595
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 08-15-2019 03:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Such marks were just a marketing ploy to get people to buy this kind of silver. Outside of the UK there are no controls over the use of hallmarks and in fact the term hallmark is incorrectly used with such markings as only the British markings are actual hall marks. The average American consumer was, and still is, quite unknowledgeable about such things and are easily swayed by little markings that resemble real hallmarks. Another very well known set of such American marks that have been in use for a very long time are Gorham silver's lion/anchor/old English G marks. They mean nothing other than they are the marks that Gorham used for a very long time and less than knowledgeable Americans see them as being British hallmarks when they are nothing of the sort.

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