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Author Topic:   Austrian spoon
tmockait

Posts: 963
Registered: Jul 2004

iconnumber posted 04-27-2005 09:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tmockait     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am hoping Blackstone or Sazikov (or some one with the same background in Central European silver)gets this one. I bought this spoon in Hungary last week. I know it is Austro-Hungarian, 1852, 13 Loth silver. I think the assay office mark is D1, but I am not certain, possibly the D is an O. The maker is an H. Greber.

I don't have a source that identifies the town, and I am puzzled by a stylized "4" stamped next to the other marks.

Also, does anyone know anything about the maker?

Thanks,
Tom

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blakstone

Posts: 493
Registered: Jul 2004

iconnumber posted 04-27-2005 10:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for blakstone     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
D1 (there was no O1, as far as I know) was the code for the assay office in Przemysl, a former Galician city now part of Poland. There was an assay office there under Austrian control from 1810 until at least 1872 and no later than 1914.

I can't help with the maker. The "4", though, I suspect the is one of the following, in descending order of probablility: the weight (4 löt = 58.48 gr, or a little over 2 oz.), a workman's mark, or set designation (i.e., 4 of 12, or some such.)

[This message has been edited by blakstone (edited 04-27-2005).]

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tmockait

Posts: 963
Registered: Jul 2004

iconnumber posted 04-28-2005 09:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for tmockait     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Blackstone. I am familiar with Przemsyl as a major Hapsburg fortress captured by the Russians in 1914 (hence the end of the assay office!) but did not know that there was an assay office there. I spend a fair amount of time in Central and Eastern Europe, so it would be useful to know the assay office letters. I understand from what you have written on other posts that Tardy is not so good on this area. Do you have or know of a list of assay office letters? I know "A" is Vienna and "A1" Wiener Neustadt and that there were offices in Pest, Graz, and Linz. Beyond that I could use some help.

Thanks,
Tom

[This message has been edited by tmockait (edited 04-28-2005).]

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blakstone

Posts: 493
Registered: Jul 2004

iconnumber posted 05-01-2005 10:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for blakstone     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here's a list of codes for the Austrian assay offices between 1807 and 1866. Not all were functioning during the entire period, but there should be no problem, since the mark also contains the date.

Next to each code is the city as it is known in both its native tongue and in English (which is to say, most often German). Also given is the country to which the city currently belongs.

A : Wein/Vienna Austria
A1: Wiener-Neustadt Austria
B : Prag/Prague Czech Republic
C : Salzburg Austria
D : Lvov/Lemberg Poland
D1 : Przemysl Poland
D2 : Rzeszow Poland
D3 : Bochnia Poland
D4 : Stanislau Poland
D5 : Chernivtsi/Czernowitz Ukraine
D6 : Brody Poland
D7 : Tarnow Poland
D8 : Tarnopol Ukraine
D9 : Biala Poland
E : Krakow Poland (1807-1809); Hall Austria (1810-1866)
F : Brno/BrĂĽnn Czech Republic
F1 : Olomouc /OlmĂĽtz Czech Republic
F2 : Opava /Troppau Czech Republic
F3 : Znojmo/ Znaim Czech Republic
F4 : Jihlava/Iglau Czech Republic
F5 : Cieszyn Poland
G : Linz/Lintz Austria
H : Graz Austria
I : Klagenfurt Austria
K : Ljubljana/Laibach Slovenia
L : Trieste/ Triest Italy

NB: These codes are applicable only to the mark illustrated in the initial post; that is, the mark used 1807-1866. These codes were changed in 1866 upon the introduction of the "Dianakopf" mark, and again in 1872 and 1922. While I believe this list to be accurate, it might not be complete. Any additions or corrections are welcome.

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tmockait

Posts: 963
Registered: Jul 2004

iconnumber posted 05-28-2005 01:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tmockait     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Afterthought: By workman do you mean a journeyman's mark (the 4)?

Thanks,
Tom

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blakstone

Posts: 493
Registered: Jul 2004

iconnumber posted 05-28-2005 03:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for blakstone     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Possibly. By workman, I mean the person in a silversmith's shop who did the actual work on a piece. In addition to a master, this could have been an apprentice or a journeyman. In the continental guild system, after completing his training, an apprentice was required to spend a number of "wandering years" (hence the term journeyman) perfecting his craft. Very often during this period he would be employed as a workmen in a master's workshop. It was such workmen that enabled a widow to continue her husband's workshop after his death.

Also, please note that I have made a correction to the list of Austrian office codes; the letter E was used in Krakow only from 1807-1809; after that it was the mark for the Tyrolean city of Hall.

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tmockait

Posts: 963
Registered: Jul 2004

iconnumber posted 05-28-2005 03:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tmockait     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Blackstone,

Thanks. I am familiar with the Guild system from my work in British history. I just got a spoon from Exeter with a crescent mark, which others in the forum identified as a tally or journeyman's mark. When I searched under "journeyman" in the forum archive, I came across a mark similar to the one on this Austrian spoon, which reminded me of our discussion.

What I find iteresting as an historian is that although the guild system was effectively destroyed first by the putting-out system and then by industrialization, it appears to have survived in certain skilled crafts such as silversmithing. This raises another question: at what point did machinary replace hand production of silver? I cannot imagine why a workman's stamp would be put on anything machine-made in quantitiy?

Tom

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blakstone

Posts: 493
Registered: Jul 2004

iconnumber posted 05-28-2005 10:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for blakstone     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don’t suppose there’s any even reasonably exact date. The goldsmith’s guilds died a slow death in Europe, in the sense that they survived far longer than other guilds, but their passing was paradoxically brutally swift, in that it took less than a generation.

The French outlawed all guilds during the Revolution in a frenzy of Republican every-man-a-king high-mindedness, but quickly recanted when it came to the ancient mystery of goldsmithy (and the tax farmers thereof, with whom the guild was closely linked). The reasoning was two-fold, both grounded in economics. First, there was the recognition that without some sort of control, goldsmiths were in a very real position to debase the coin of the realm. Second was the realization that the primary consumers of gold & silver - the aristocracy and the clergy – were enemies of the new order, so why not continue to tax them? So began the quasi-official guild, soon to be supplanted by the state-controlled assay offices and eventually the Minerva head we all know and love. I mention all this only because not only was this was the genesis of the modern continental hallmarking system (Napoleon did a good job of spreading the system to most of western Europe) but also because it was these two driving factors – taxes and currency – that permitted the gold & silversmiths guilds to survive as long as they did.

Certainly some machine processes were used in the 18th century, and by the second quarter of the 19th century, stamping, milling and spinning machines were the norm. As early as 1815, Peter Bruckmann & Söhne of Heilbronn was creating die-stamped medallions exclusively for silversmiths to apply to their “hand-made” flatware (itself generally made in stamping molds, whether compressed by hand or machine).

But the story of M. H. Wilkens& Söhne of Bremen is probably the most fitting epitaph to the old guild system in Europe.

The company was founded by Martin Heinrich Wilkens (Master 1810). He was certainly an old-school smith, taking apprentices, among them Gottfried Koch (later of Koch and Bergfeld). Also apprenticed to Wilkens were his own sons Diedrich, Karl Philipp and Friedrich Wilhelm. However, rather than learning the old arts of hammering, planishing, raising, etc., the sons either learned decorative engraving and chiseling (Karl Philipp would become an accomplished medallist) or traveled Europe studying new mechanical processes. So successful were they that by 1840, Wilkens’ workshop was in charge of the Bremen mint.

On 14 Nov 1851, the three sons petitioned the Bremen guild for permission to create silverware manufactory, with a dispensation for the “Wanderzeit” [“wandering time”] for purpose of their entrance into the Goldsmith’s Office. Their argument was that the “silversmith” of old no longer existed; tasks were now divided among many men, from machine operators to finishers and engravers. (Wilkens’ workshop had shown marvelous examples of its own wares so created at the 1844 Berlin Industrial Exhibit.) The guild rebuffed them for months, eventually deciding in 1852 that since the brothers were incapable of producing a “masterpiece” in the traditional sense to the satisfaction of its test commission, the request was denied; the brothers were never formally admitted to the guild.

Pride goeth before destruction. The guild would not survive a decade more; Wilkens celebrates its 195th anniversary this year.


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tmockait

Posts: 963
Registered: Jul 2004

iconnumber posted 05-28-2005 11:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tmockait     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Fascinating. About that book, I encouraged you to write ... These posts will be a great start! Apparently no Luddites in among the Goldsmiths (workers who smashed the new machines).

Thanks again,
Tom

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