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Author Topic:   Joel Sayre Coin Spoon
MGArgent

Posts: 7
Registered: Mar 2020

iconnumber posted 06-08-2020 12:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MGArgent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hello forum, this is my second topic here.

I picked up what I believe to be Joel Sayre coin spoons c1800's New York City or Southhamption, New York.

The list of questions I have regarding the spoons are:

1) Can you confirm these spoons should be coin (90%) silver?

2) Can anyone identify the "F" mark? I suspect this is a retailer's mark?

3) Joel Sayre used multiple marks through his active period of 1798-1811. Based on the font, can the age be narrowed down?

Finally, if anyone can provide any biographical information regarding this maker it would be greatly appreciated!

[This message has been edited by MGArgent (edited 06-08-2020).]

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Scott Martin
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Posts: 11377
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 06-08-2020 12:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
See: WEV's www.americansilversmiths.org : Joel Sayre

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MGArgent

Posts: 7
Registered: Mar 2020

iconnumber posted 06-08-2020 01:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MGArgent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks! I had actually come across this excellent site during my search and it helped me to identify the maker as Joel Sayre.

I notice the accents on the "S", and the tail of the "y" are not an exact match. Was it common for makers to remake their stamp with slightly different font if the previous wore out?

One thing that was unclear to me if the alternate marks were listed in chronological order? If so, this would date the spoons to the later portion of Joel's active period.


I am still hoping someone can provide more biographical information and address the questions listed above.

[This message has been edited by MGArgent (edited 06-08-2020).]

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Scott Martin
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Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 06-08-2020 01:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
WEV checks in from time to time.... I look forward to his comments.

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wev
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Posts: 4095
Registered: Apr 99

iconnumber posted 06-08-2020 01:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The marks show on my page are not chronological. Sayre's career was relatively short and during a period when multiple forms were being developed, copied, and re-developed. It would be very difficult, without solid provenance, to assign a date any closer than a decade based on form.

A smith might have a single punch or several in use at the same time. Given how many Sayre had, it might be possible to do a chronology, but you would need scores of pieces with good marks to compare for wear, breakage, and replacement. Even if that were possible, it would be no guarantee -- he (or a shop hand) may have just grabbed an old version by mistake, so a coffin end tablespoon c 1810 ends up with the same mark used a decade earlier. Similarly, a smith might have two 'identical' punches made at the same time. These would be cut by hand in house or by a diesinker, so there could be considerable variation one to the other. There were no 'fonts' involved, just a sketch perhaps, or a previous version for a guide.

I think saying c 1800-1810 is about as close as one can get.

[This message has been edited by wev (edited 06-08-2020).]

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MGArgent

Posts: 7
Registered: Mar 2020

iconnumber posted 06-08-2020 04:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MGArgent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you, I hadn't come across detailed information regarding punch usage so this is a very interesting explanation.

Regarding the "F.", is this most likely a retailer mark?

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wev
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Registered: Apr 99

iconnumber posted 06-08-2020 04:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I doubt it. It is more likely a journeyman's mark. As it happens, I ran across a mark for Joel's brother John in partnership with Thomas Richards, 1802-1813 that also includes an F mark. It would not be a surprised if a bench hand spent time between both shops (they were only a few blocks apart) as needed.

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MGArgent

Posts: 7
Registered: Mar 2020

iconnumber posted 06-08-2020 04:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MGArgent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ahhh, great find! So I likely had it backwards! This indicates the spoons were made by the journeyman "F." and sold through Joel Sayre's shop.

Playing devils advocate, if the brother's shops were so close, it is a possibility that they both sold their wares through the same retailer "F."?

However, if it is known they sold directly from their own shops, they would have little financial motivation to use a retailer?

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wev
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iconnumber posted 06-08-2020 05:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Both brothers are listed in NYC directories variously as silversmiths and jewelers. I have not seen any from Joel, but John ran various retail ads offering watches, plate, and jewelry, domestic and imported, as well as trade tools. Given the larger concern, he may have been supplying goods to Joel as needed, but that is guesswork.

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ahwt

Posts: 2173
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 06-08-2020 05:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Nice spoons with a bit of a mystery. The bench hand appears to have had two stamps; one with a dot after the F and one without the dot. They both appear to be well made.
Unless you test the spoons the exact silver content would not be known as the New York did not assay silver.

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pewter2

Posts: 11
Registered: Dec 2017

iconnumber posted 06-12-2020 01:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for pewter2     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
John Sayre 1771 died 1852 New York partnership 1802 to 1811 as Sayre and Richards, your mark appears to be 3rd mark recorded.and item made prior to the partnership with Richards.......reference A Directory of American Silver, Silver Plate and Pewter....Kovel

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MGArgent

Posts: 7
Registered: Mar 2020

iconnumber posted 06-12-2020 07:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MGArgent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the input! I was reviewing a webpage at MET gallery and they had attributed this mark to John or Joel Sayre, however Wev has confirmed it is actually Joel Sayre's mark and not his brother John's (from John Sayre and Thomas Richards). Since it is likely Joel's mark, it wouldn't be possible to date it prior to his brother John's partnership.

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Kimo

Posts: 1597
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 06-15-2020 04:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You ask in your original post if it should be "coin (90%) silver". The term "coin" silver does not actually mean any particular purity level such as 90%. It is a slightly romanticized, easy to remember, and not very specific term for silver that was made in the US before any specific purity levels came into common use. Silver was not plentiful in the US prior to the big strikes in the west in the third quarter of the 1800s. If you wanted some silverware made for you it was common for a smith to accept your old damaged, worn out or out of style silverware and melt it down to get the silver to make something new for you. Sometimes, but not always, they might also throw some silver coins from Mexico or Europe or some other place into the melting pot and hence the name coin silver but it is just as likely to have no coins as have some or be all coins. These foreign coins, along with the old damaged, worn out, or out of style silver were of a number of different purities and so the resulting purity of what came out could be anywhere from as low as 80% to as high as 95% silver. For example, the commonly seen Austro Hungarian Thaler (we get our word dollar from this coin) was 83.3% pure silver at that time and so if you melted down a quantity of these your resilting "coin" silver would be 83.3 percent silver. Or the Spanish pistareen that was widely used in the colonies ranged from between 81% and 84% pure silver. By reference, sterling is 92.5% pure. Later, especially in the late 19th and into the 20th century makers started using 90% pure silver and formally calling it "coin" silver to indicate it was 90%.

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