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tline3open  Help with marks--American? German?

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Author Topic:   Help with marks--American? German?
Polly

Posts: 1910
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 02-23-2009 12:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I picked some forks and spoons at a local (NYC) flea market. The seller had them in her box of silver plate, but they look and feel like coin silver to me.

Both sets are monogrammed BH, though in different styles, so I presume they probably belonged to the same person or family. The forks are marked Kemnis 12 and the spoons are marked 12 Knauer. I can't find Kemnis or Knauer in my (tiny) collection of American references. Does anyone recognize them? Might they be German?


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swarter
Moderator

Posts: 2920
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 02-23-2009 12:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The number 12 is the European standard mark for 12/16 (.750) silver, or "12 lot." It was used in Germany and some neighboring countries.

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Polly

Posts: 1910
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 02-23-2009 12:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, Stuart! So I posted in the wrong forum. Is it possible to move this thread to Continental/International?

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Polly

Posts: 1910
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 02-23-2009 01:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for the move.

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blakstone

Posts: 493
Registered: Jul 2004

iconnumber posted 02-23-2009 01:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for blakstone     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Nice! Both these makers are well-known, and the shared monogram (which suggests a common origin) and the mid-1800’s style clinches the identification. They are both from the German city of Hanover (Hannover).

KEMNIS = Ernst Friedrich Kemnis (1795-1861; Master 1828)

KNAUER = Georg Julius Friedrich Knauer (1790-1855; Master 1816) or his son, Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Knauer (1830-1905; Master 1855). The Knauers were from a large family of silversmiths in nearby Gottingen.

Happy Mardi Gras!

[This message has been edited by blakstone (edited 02-23-2009).]

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Polly

Posts: 1910
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 02-23-2009 01:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Many thanks, blakstone!

Happy Mardi Gras to you too.

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Polly

Posts: 1910
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 02-23-2009 02:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just one more question: Did mid-19th century Germans place their forks and spoons on the table tine and bowl up, like Americans, or tine and bowl down, like the French? (Or is this a misconception on my part about the French?) These forks and spoons are monogrammed on what I think of as the front.

I want to make sure I set the table correctly when I use them.

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agphile

Posts: 798
Registered: Apr 2008

iconnumber posted 02-23-2009 06:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for agphile     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One of my books includes a reproduction of a watercolour showing a table set for a meal in 1847 in Germany. The spoons and forks are laid bowls and tines up, as in America and England at the time and since.

The watercolour was by an Englishwoman married to a German and is one of several pictures of their home. You might wonder whether she was following the practice of her native rather than her adopted country. However, the fact that the ends of your pieces turn down rather than up and the monograms are on what we think of as the front seems to confirm that they were made to be laid in this way.

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Polly

Posts: 1910
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 02-23-2009 09:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you, Agphile.

Interestingly, the spoons are decorated front and back, with shells on both sides of the handle and on the drop, so they wouldn't look wrong either way--though the monogram is on (what I think of as) the front.

I love the idea of the artist painting her dinner table.

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agphile

Posts: 798
Registered: Apr 2008

iconnumber posted 05-25-2009 11:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for agphile     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I’m returning to this thread because I have a question or comment I forgot to raise when I initially posted. I was probaly too busy feeling pleased with myself for finding a picture of the right period that showed a table setting.

The question relates to the down-turned stem end on Polly’s fork. In Britain the ends of forks pretty well always turn up even when the matching spoon end turns down. I guess this is because it makes the fork more comfortable in the hand when it is being used to hold down a piece of food while you attack it with a knife. If I see a British fork with a down-turned end I tend to assume it must have had some special use such as for serving. Might Polly’s fork in fact have been meant for serving food, or did 19th century Germans follow different customs in making and using forks?

[This message has been edited by agphile (edited 05-25-2009).]

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Polly

Posts: 1910
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 05-25-2009 11:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Agphile, I don't think these are serving forks. I have 12 of them, and they're a pretty reasonable eating size: 7 inches long and 3/4 inches wide at the widest point. (Hm. Does the fact that they're in inches mean anything?)

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agphile

Posts: 798
Registered: Apr 2008

iconnumber posted 05-25-2009 03:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for agphile     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Polly, you're right. A set of 12 must be for eating - so the Kingdom of Hanover did not share British practice in respect of forks despite having shared a King for a chunk of the 19th century.

As far as measuring a precise number of inches is concerned, I don't think anything can be read into that. It is probably accidental. I don't know how long it took for Germans to go completely metric but I would think traditional crafts were slow to change. And hand raised spoons or forks would not have been made to a precise measurement. My spoonmaker friend tells me that when he was making a set he would get the pieces to match by "knocking them up" to the length of whichever had come out longest.

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