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tline3open  Weight variation in Georgian flatware

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Author Topic:   Weight variation in Georgian flatware
Wolf

Posts: 8
Registered: Sep 2020

iconnumber posted 02-09-2021 09:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Wolf     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I recently acquired two tablespoons (possibly William Chawner II, London c. 1829). Although ostensibly a matching pair with matching hallmarks, etc, they differ substantially (10%) in weight; 81 vs 89 grams.

Was flatware sold by weight or was the maker potentially short-changing the customer?

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ahwt

Posts: 2214
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 02-10-2021 01:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Crown collected a tax based on the amount of silver in the object. The exact weight would have been determined when the tax was paid.
I think when objects were sold the final price was determined by the price of the silver and an add on to account for the price to fashion it.
Helen Clifford in her book Silver in London noted several times the cost to make or fashion the object varied on the piece made, and that it was separated listed. This at least was the case for hollow ware.
It may be that flatware was treated differently.

[This message has been edited by ahwt (edited 02-10-2021).]

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Wolf

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Registered: Sep 2020

iconnumber posted 02-10-2021 04:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Wolf     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Many thanks for the information, ahwt; that all sounds logical. (The discrepancy in this case seems to relate to the thickness of the spoon shafts)

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Kimo

Posts: 1601
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 02-14-2021 09:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another possibility might be that one could be more worn through heavier use or more rigorous polishing than the other?

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ahwt

Posts: 2214
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 02-16-2021 10:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Kimo has a good point.
I recall seeing an article on weight loss by polishing some years ago. Large pieces of silver were often marked with the weight at the time of purchase. The study in this article tried to see if the current weight could be used to see to predict age of items not marked with a date mark.
I can not locate this article now.

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seaduck

Posts: 344
Registered: Dec 2006

iconnumber posted 03-09-2021 01:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for seaduck     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is it possible they are not actually part of the same set? This is not my area of collecting, so I don't know how much matched sets might vary.

But when I look at these, I see some variation. In the first pic, it looks like the lions are not placed at the same point, and to my eye, the half round devices at the throats seem to have slightly different proportions. In the second pic, I am picking up a different proportion -- forgive me, as I don't know the proper terminology, but I'm seeing it where the thin stem curves to the wide part of the handle.

But that might also be the photos.

[This message has been edited by seaduck (edited 03-09-2021).]

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Kimo

Posts: 1601
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 03-11-2021 11:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Seaduck's suggestion they may not be from the same set is another good possibility. Or, it was not uncommon to replace damaged items over the years with new purchases, or to expand a set over time as one was given items as gifts over the years, or as the owners had more resources to buy more pieces, or as the owner's family grew over the years through having children and they needed more pieces, or as the owners began entertaining larger numbers of people as their friends and business associates and relatives grew in numbers and more flatware was needed to be purchased. Over time a maker may have changed their weight standards slightly to increase their profits or to keep their prices steady as the price of silver fluctuated upwards or simply because their molds wore down or were replaced with new ones, etc. One could go on and on for reasons to added more items over the years and reasons why a maker might have slightly changed their standards in a given pattern.

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