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Author Topic:   New member intro - Albert Coles

Posts: 3
Registered: Sep 2019

iconnumber posted 10-11-2019 01:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for vez     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hello everyone.

Happy to have joined and finally found the time to submit a post.

I've been slowly growing a collection of items over the past few years. At this point I've not been able to bring myself to spending any real money on anything which is probably wise being a beginner. So that leaves me to browsing thrift stores hoping for the occasional find. In this respect I've done pretty well I think.

Anyway my interest in silver really began when I found a few sets of Demi tasse spoons with English hallmarks. I really enjoyed the detective work discovering who made them where, and when. Not to mention the detail of the hallmarks themselves.

I'll be honest, most of the stuff I find is in a pretty sad state. Still its quite interesting researching.

I'm also blown away at the level of knowledge people on this forum have so I apologize in advance if I'm not using the correct terminology when I discuss some items. Please do correct me and I will hopefully learn quickly.

Anyway, without getting too long winded I wish to discuss a small knife I picked up a few months ago. The research I have done so far indicates its made in NYC some time around the 1850s by Albert Coles. The pattern I believe is Jenny Lind and I've read elsewhere that it is a Breakfast knife. I'm surprised at how flexible and thin it is, to the point where I could hardly imagine it being used to eat with.

Anyway I have two questions.

  • Can anyone make out what the initials are in the monogram? I have no idea.
  • The second question I have is that there is notable wear on the side which does not have the monogram. Does anyone have any idea what this could indicate about the knife? How long / often does someone need to use an item like this in order for it to get worn down that badly?
  • Also why would they monogram the side that does not have the hallmarks? Was this the standard thing to do?

I'll attempt to post the pictures below:

For the moderators, if you feel this post would be better served in an existing Albert Coles thread please have it moved. At any rate, ill post the link:

Albert Coles Jenny Lind (1850)


[This message has been edited by Scott Martin (edited 10-11-2019).]

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iconnumber posted 10-11-2019 02:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Welcome to the forum, vez!

That is a lovely find.

To my eye, you've posted the monogram photo upside down, and the letters are CMGB.

The uneven wear could just be the result of the person's polishing habits, or it might be because the knife generally lay on the side without the monogram.

Generally in America, hallmarks are stamped on the back, so it makes sense that the monogram would be on the other side (the front).

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Scott Martin
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iconnumber posted 10-11-2019 02:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Also, unlike the English where most every thing had to be tested and marked by the Guild, in America we have "maker's marks" or "pseudo hallmarks" to indicate the maker and sometimes a silver purity mark and other times no marks at all.

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iconnumber posted 10-11-2019 07:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for vez     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you both for taking the time to reply.

Upside down! I wasn't kidding when I said I was new at this! Thanks.

Now that you mention it, I completely agree that I had the monogram upside down. Before you said that I may as well have been looking at hieroglyphics. But I took a look at it again and think that you nailed it and its CMGB.

I also never considered that polishing habits could be the cause of uneven wear. I can picture it now, the same person polishing the same set over and over. Holding all the knives in the same hand, facing the same way each time. Of course that would cause uneven wear. Combined with laying the knives monogram up - as you would while setting the table. Makes sense. Thank you for that insight.

Still, I wonder how long or how often it would take? Is anyone using silver often enough to notice patterns of wear? Or is it something that happens over a few generations? Any insight on what daily use does to a piece?

Thanks for cleaning up my post and making it flow much better. The maker's mark on the knife was the thing that made me buy it. I had no idea what they meant and just had to find out. I was blown away when I found out it was an American piece from the 1850's.

I love digging into the history of something. In this case finding out about Jenny Lind and 1850's America. I like to imagine what sort of journey this piece took in order for it to find its way into my home. Sad to think if I had not come along when I did, its next stop probably would have been the dump.

Again, thank you both very much for your time and expertise.

[This message has been edited by vez (edited 10-11-2019).]

[This message has been edited by vez (edited 10-11-2019).]

[This message has been edited by vez (edited 10-11-2019).]

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iconnumber posted 10-13-2019 02:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Welcome to the forum. Albert Cole was a very large producer and made some wonderful silver.
Your question about monogram placement is interesting. Monograms on forks and spoons were often put on the back by the French. This custom was picked up by the citizens of New Orleans and perhaps by the immigrants from France in other American cities.
A search of this forum simply using the term monogram will produce some interesting results.
The uneven wear I think is just the result of years of too much polishing on one side.

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iconnumber posted 10-13-2019 09:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Excessive wear on one side could be the result of simple over polishing but if that were the case my thought is that both sides would likely be relatively equally abused. On the other hand I think that another possibility is that it was damaged in some way on one side and someone with an aggressive buffing wheel polished it out and to make it look better they polished the entire side rather than make a large depression where the damage was polished out. Or perhaps there was a monogram on that side that a new owner decided to remove and again a person with an aggressive buffing wheel removed it and then applied that buffing wheel to the entire side to make it look better than just having a depression where a former monogram once resided. Another possibility is that the person who owned it may have used it on a table or stored it on a surface that was very abrasive. Silver is not very hard, certainly nothing like stainless steel, and it can wear quickly when slid across a rough surface very often. Or something else?

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iconnumber posted 10-13-2019 11:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is a little off topic but the wear on this Jenny Lind tea knife brought to my mind how some silversmiths in the 18th century scratched the weight of the silver item they crafted onto the bottom of the piece. Silver was expensive and the customer was thereby assured that they received what had bargained for.
As polishing does remove some of the silver weighing the silver object some 200 plus years after it was made would give a good indication of how much silver was lost by keeping the silver shiny. Someone did a study of this lost; but that is all I recall. What they learned from this study, if anything, I have forgotten.
Does anyone else remember this?

[This message has been edited by ahwt (edited 10-13-2019).]

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iconnumber posted 10-20-2019 01:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for vez     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
First of all, I must thank everyone for taking the time to respond.

Getting back to the question of uneven wear, I never thought about the possibility that polishing had something to do with it. In this case, I suspect that if I had a few other pieces in the set, we may be able to determine a little bit more about whether it was a result of polishing or some sort of repair. Too bad I don't.

Kimo, you present an interesting question, that there may have been damage or an old monogram to cover up / get buffed out. It seems hard to even guess at a conclusion with my limited knowledge. My first amateur impression of the wear marks is this knife was laid out on a table - probably often, and it was always laid monogram up. But it’s just a guess.

Thanks again everyone

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iconnumber posted 01-27-2020 12:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

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