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Rifles & Relics

Posts: 3
Registered: Dec 2019

iconnumber posted 12-29-2019 11:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rifles & Relics     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hello Silver Salon members,

My name is Dave Fegley and I live in central Pennsylvania. I have recently retired from a career of tuna fishing and pursuing my interests in early Americana, Washingtonia and engraved firearms. I have done considerable research all of my life and have become accomplished at identifying artists using “guild” methods and specific light wavelengths to view scratches and shaded art that is not visible to the naked eye. We have also been including XRF testing to verify period artifacts.

This progression into a new life and career in research and collecting relics is what has led me to this wonderful database. Over the years I have used the information provided and now that I have the time and focus I can begin to share some of the things I have learned.

A recent project involving authentication of a George Washington peace medal is near conclusion. Our findings are going to result in authentication of several early American silver hallmarks, especially related to “Indian” trade silver. The same marks I have been researching should be of help and interest to collectors of early American silver.

I am interested in learning more about and seeing more examples of silver done by silversmiths in the Confederation period and Washington’s presidency. Any information is appreciated.

I am currently building a website and will with the new year provide a link to our research.

Dave Fegley
Rifles & Relics LLC

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ahwt

Posts: 2173
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 01-15-2020 08:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wish you success in your research and look forward to seeing your website.

I lived in St. Louis for many years and remember seeing “Indian Trade silver” for sale at flea markets in remarkably large quantities for something that is actually quite rare. The result of course is that I came to the conclusion that most of it was counterfeit.

Any research that can lead to authenticating this silver will really be welcome.

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Rifles & Relics

Posts: 3
Registered: Dec 2019

iconnumber posted 01-16-2020 06:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rifles & Relics     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you and yes the trade silver is hard to identify as authentic as the testing costs are past the value of most of the items. Few of them have identifying marks and the alloy contents are all over the board. Many of the pieces were created in “frontier” shops associated with the “Indian” agencies. The amount of it is actually staggering.

One of the first acts of congress was to allocate $20,000 for trade silver items to “treat with the Indians” in 1789 when G. Washington angrily addressed them over the failed Rock Landing Peace conference with the Creeks.

Some of the Philadelphia silversmiths did stamp some of their pieces like Joseph Richardson, Joseph Cooke and Daniel Van Voorhis. They are of course the more valuable ones. I would say ones with a Hudson Bay mark are the most “faked” pieces. Most of them are simple open face pins in the shape of a circle or heart and a good possibility they are authentic. The gorgets, armbands and Peace medals were profusely reproduced, but the value is such that it allows testing.

We were recently asked to authenticate around 50 trade silver pins that were passed down through the family of “Red Jacket” the famous orator of the Iroquois and now being considered by the Seneca museum. Expecting something spectacular I was surprised to see they were all the same. The cost of testing the silver alloy would have exceeded the value of the simple pins.

With items we have tested the silver is usually very pure copper and silver either coin (90%,10%) or of sterling quality of 92.5%+ silver. The telling period trace elements are mercury and gold. Sometimes a tiny amount of iron picked up from the crucible.

Items that actually have a makers stamp are easier to identify by studying the stamp itself. The smiths would often have esoteric symbolisms cut into the dies that are not easily recognizable to the naked eye. An inspection microscope is needed to see what they might have included other than their initials. When you have known examples of these marks as are provided by the database included with this website you can make a determination of authenticity based on the “extra” embellishments in the die. Most often I see posts speaking of “rusty” dies. I find that they are not necessarily rusty, but are in fact almost microscopic “artwork”, letters and symbolisms.

I will post some pictures and discuss this a bit when I have achieved full access membership to this forum.

I have conceded myself to the fact that I need professional help to do my website so it looks like something other than a kindergarten class project.

If only I were a few years younger.......

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