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Author Topic:   Silver Pheasants
venus

Posts: 282
Registered: Jul 2005

iconnumber posted 02-15-2006 03:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for venus     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
[26-0905]

Has anyone ran across the maker C A B? I purchased 2 salt/pepper shakers. Both have 4 holes in the top and are some type of bird with long tails, a crest towards the back of the head, perhaps pheasants. On the base is marked 959 and under this it is marked C A B. They are a silver metal and I think are silver. The heads screw off and they are each about 6" long and 3 1/2" tall

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FWG

Posts: 845
Registered: Aug 2005

iconnumber posted 02-16-2006 11:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for FWG     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I thought I had a piece with that mark from Colombia, but I was remembering the mark wrong -- it was CA CIE....

The '959' mark is almost certainly an unclear 925 or 950, both of which are silver standards one sees regularly.

Photos would really help, and would probably get more response. You can find instructions in the 'Please Read Before You Post' pages, linked near the top of every page.

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Kimo

Posts: 1597
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 02-16-2006 02:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If it is 959 it would likely be just a manufacturer's model or inventory number rather than having any reference to the silver content. From the rest of your description it does not sound as if they are likely to be made of silver.

FWG is correct that we really will need some clear photos to tell you much of anything.

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venus

Posts: 282
Registered: Jul 2005

iconnumber posted 02-16-2006 03:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for venus     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yes, I know that I should take pictures. I showed them to my son-in-law who deals in silver and he said they were most certainly silver. He did not know that makers mark, but silver they are. The marks are very clearly 959 and looking again it is CA B
with perhaps a tiny tiny bell under and between the C and A. Sterling has a different feel and "color" than plate or it does to me. Some people say it smells differnt but it all smells the same to me. *smile* Is it possible they are Brittania and someone rounded it up to 959? Is it written it stone that only certain # may be used for content or is it a general or established rule? Thanks for the feedback. I am going to search for last names that start with B and front initials the CA. It seems that I just gravitate to strange markings and makers. I have several items of unknown origion/maker/mark but until I do the picture thing I wont post them. Again thanks

[This message has been edited by venus (edited 02-16-2006).]

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FWG

Posts: 845
Registered: Aug 2005

iconnumber posted 02-16-2006 03:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FWG     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For some reason I have never grasped, pheasants are something that have been produced in silver fairly often. I've seen shakers, like these, up to life-size figures intended for display on a sideboard or as a centerpiece. Some I have looked at have been Spanish or from the Spanish colonial world, others have been Asian.

Actual silver proportions in an alloy can be anything from .001 to .999, but only certain numbers have been used as standards. I might miss one, but in descending order of fineness ones I have seen mentioned are .999, .980, .950, .925, .900, .850, .835, .800, .750, .700, .600, .500. In gold you'll also sometimes see funny ones like .585, that relate to the carat system (in this case, 14K). If it is 959, I'd have to agree with Kimo that it's most likely a manufacturer's code.

I have a piece (which I plan to post soon) that is marked 1000 -- but I have no thought it's pure silver!

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venus

Posts: 282
Registered: Jul 2005

iconnumber posted 02-16-2006 04:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for venus     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
wink Could just have been a maker who marched to his own drum. Until I figure out who that is or have it tested guess it will be anybodys guess, which I am grateful for all the advice and ideas.

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venus

Posts: 282
Registered: Jul 2005

iconnumber posted 02-16-2006 07:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for venus     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The following marks were valid in Czechoslovakia until 1940
959 925 900 835 800/1000 Would post where I got the info but don't want to get snipped.

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IJP

Posts: 326
Registered: Oct 2004

iconnumber posted 02-17-2006 12:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for IJP     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I did a brief web search a retrieved a site that does indeed list .959 as a legitimate Czech standard, used to the present day.

I have reviewed the Guidelines once again, and as this particular site is exclusively a reference resource, and has no commercial interest, I'm sure it complies.

You may view the site here.

However, notice that while .959 is a true Czech standard, the mark on pieces of that fineness is actually an assay-standard mark "1". The number "959" would not be stamped on such a piece. I am not at my library, and do not know off hand whether the stamping regulations of that region would have allowed for a simple "959" mark at any time in its history, or at present, but my first thought is that the mark described by venus is not consistent with Czech rules. Alternatively, it is, I suppose, remotely possible that the piece was made in the Czech republic at .959 fineness, for export, and thereby could avoid the national marking laws, though that seems like a real long-shot.

Bottom line is, without a photograph of the piece and its marks, anything we say here is purely speculation.

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venus

Posts: 282
Registered: Jul 2005

iconnumber posted 02-17-2006 08:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for venus     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Went to that site, which I use quite a lot.
However it says "marks in current use" What I found from my source was 959 and some others "used until 1942." As far as an import, why would everything have to come in as an import? People have come to the USA from other countries for years, bringing their possesions. I live in a relativly small community and I have purchased other things that an elderly lady from (checoslavakia) family had sold. In fact she had a housefull of things. It is not much of a strech that these could be from that same estate. I will ask Louise, the dealer I got them from if she knows the history. Thanks for the help. Lynnda

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IJP

Posts: 326
Registered: Oct 2004

iconnumber posted 02-22-2006 04:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for IJP     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My source for the silver marks is International Hallmarks on Silver Collected by Tardy. Most forum members will agree that it is the most comprehensive and dependable reference on international silver marks.

Historical and political sources include various websites about Moravia/Bohemia, Czechoslovakia, and the Czech Republic.

The earliest illustrated silver marks for the region in Tardy are dated at the 16th and 17th centuries. During this time, the area was under the control of the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg dynasty. Standard marks for silver items crafted in this period seem to use the Löthige system: This is a ratio of 16. Typical numbers include 12 (indicating .750 purity) and 13 (.812). This system appears to be used through much of the 19th century.

After World War I, the Austro-Hungarian Empire falls, and in 1918 the Czech lands and Slovakia unite to form Czechoslovakia. By 1922, the nation established a new marking system. The marks were not very dissimilar in immediate appearance from the Russian kokoshnik marks, depicting a woman in a peasant headdress. However, the standard figure which indicates an item's fineness or purity is always a 1 (indicating .950 quality), 2 (.900), 3 (.800), or 4 (.750).

In 1929, these marks are changed yet again. The new mark is a stout isosceles triangle, inside of which is depicted a mountain range or hill country surmounted by a Patriarchal cross (this cross has two cross-beams, the lower one nearly twice as long as the upper). This mark would bear one of the standard numbers 1 (.959), 2 (.925), 3 (.900), 4 (.835), and 5 (.800).

By 1939, the Czech lands of Bohemia and Moravia were invaded and conquered by Hitler's armies, and Slovakia declared independence. Slovakia's standard marks by 1941 took the form of various similar shapes depicting a woman in peasant headdress, with the same numbers 1 (.959), 2 (.925), 3 (.900), 4 (.835), and 5 (.800). In 1942, Bohemia and Moravia used marks in the form of stout isosceles triangles decorated with a checkerboard pattern, also with the numbers 1 (.959), 2 (.925), 3 (.900), 4 (.835), and 5 (.800).

After World War II, Czechoslovakia is reunited, and soon falls into the hands of the Communist Party. In 1949, the country adopts essentially the same marking system used previously in Slovakia, except that the quality of the first standard 1 is dropped to .950

As of the publication of Tardy (1985), since 1962 Czechoslovakia (Now Slovakia and the Czech Republic) had used marks depicting (I believe) the head of a goat within various shapes, each accompanied by a number, 1 (.959), 2 (.925), 3 (.900), 4 (.835), 5 (.800), or 6 (.750).

So Czechoslovakia did in fact regularly use a .959 standard, at least from 1929-1949 and after 1962.

However, during neither of these periods did any of its standard markings ever actually bear the numbers "959".

My immediate thought would be that, despite the fact that Czechoslovakia did have such a standard, the item in question is not marked consistently with that country's regulations. Again, and this is only a stab in the dark, it is remotely possible that the item is of Czechoslovakian manufacture, but made expressly for export sale. I only say this because I know that objects made in certain other countries could escape their marking laws if made for export to another country, and not for sale in the country of manufacture. If so, and if bound for the right market, I suppose the fineness might be expressed as the numerals "959". Yet after 1929, when the .959 standard appears, Czechoslovakia (or its composite territories) stamped a special mark on pieces bound for export, usually an anchor, but in Slovakia (1941-1949) a bird with outstretched wings. I can't imagine why an item bound for export would not bear the export mark. But I actually know very little about Czech or Czechoslovakian silver (though I know a lot more now than I did before I did this research!).

It's also entirely possible that the object you're asking about isn't really silver at all, and I've wasted my breath!!! There's no way to know without seeing a picture.

Would blakstone or sazikov2000 care to weigh in on this? They are the real experts in this field. They are also likely to have more specific reference books than I.


[This message has been edited by IJP (edited 02-22-2006).]

[This message has been edited by IJP (edited 02-22-2006).]

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venus

Posts: 282
Registered: Jul 2005

iconnumber posted 02-22-2006 07:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for venus     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Have traced the birds back, but not very far. They were brought to my town from Alexandria, Va by a well to do family. I have seen some of the other things that came from the estate and they are extremly nice. I will try and get them tested and try and post photos. The assey office of the Czech Republic say that 959 is not currently used. As far as I know any Silversmith in the USA can mark an item with the silver continent without restraint. If a maker had roots in Chekoslavakia they may well have marked it such. Right now I know that I don't know much. It is not stainless and it is not pewter, that leaves rhodium and platinum or silver or silver plate. Guess I need to get with the program and get some of the research books. wink Thanks for the well researched information. I think I will email the assey office and see what if any thing they tell me.

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IJP

Posts: 326
Registered: Oct 2004

iconnumber posted 02-22-2006 07:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for IJP     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
venus, I certainly don't want to send you on any wild goose chase. All of the above replies from forum members seem to unambiguously declare that the mark "959" that you describe matches no known silver mark. Yes, nothing would stop a person from simply making something out of silver of exactly .959 fineness, and marking it with that number (except in those countries where all silver produced for the market must by law be marked with the official standard mark - And I believe that this comprises most western producing countries). However, why would someone ever stamp an object with an obscure or inscrutable mark to indicate its quality? Silver is marked in order to clearly proclaim to its intended market that it is in fact silver. This is why many countries have strict regulations on the marking of its silver, and this is also why in the USA (and in some other countries which do not have an official assay office), makers stamp their wares "STERLING" or with the commonly accepted and understood figure "925" or "925/1000".

Despite all the information I've provided (which was really only done for fun and for the education, if desired, of other members), I am coming to believe that your "959" mark is probably a manufacturer's code which has nothing to do with silver content. If anyone has information to dispel these doubts, do please post.

You know, at times like this, I'm very thankful that we have at least England, which has utilized essentially the same marking system for hundreds of years. English sterling has never thrilled me much, but I can now fully respect the permanence of its assay regulations. I can't think of any other nation which has managed to keep their rules straight.

I do have to confess, though, that largely the reason that Continental silver excites me so much is the complexity of assay and marking rules, the dates one has to memorize, the different stamps that one must recognize, the political events behind those changes, etc. English work is fine, no doubt, but researching its marks is by comparison somewhat mechanical, definitely lacking in the stirring undercurrents that the work of other regions offer.

Maybe it's not just the work that I love, but the hunt, the chase, flirting with history and politics, acquainting oneself with the deepest secrets of each and every specimen, then indifferently moving on to the next adventure. Ah, yes indeed... Call me Don Juan de Mark-o if you must.

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Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 02-23-2006 12:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is another possibility for content. Hard silver solder, the type used in joining pieces of an item together, has been used to produce all sorts of things. Much of it appears to be made in India, have extensive hand work and be in traditional styles. As silver solder has some silver content, it can be polished. I have encountered a few of these items, and they are truly mysterious things. Wonderfully made, with a good finish, but not sterling and not very old. I would suggest this is a possibility for your pheasants.

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venus

Posts: 282
Registered: Jul 2005

iconnumber posted 02-28-2006 08:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for venus     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That is certainly one direction to consider. As big as they are they would have taken lots of solder. They are very plain, not even certain they are pheasants. They have the same head feathers as an old spode bird I have. On the back of the head not the top.

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Kimo

Posts: 1597
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 02-28-2006 09:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You should not place much weight on your point about the birds having come from a well to do family as such estates typically are filled with all kinds of very nice but less than exceptional quality things. Given the lack of any markings that indicate they are solid silver, the assumption should be that they are silver plated unless a proper test is conducted by an expert. Such a test would involve destructive digging into the metal in a relatively inconspicuous place so see what the metal is under the surface. I really do not recommend this and I shudder at the thought of destructive testing on any object. There is no real reason to do so since you enjoy the shakers as they are so it shouldn't really matter whether they are silver or silver plate.

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sazikov2000

Posts: 254
Registered: Jan 2005

iconnumber posted 02-28-2006 05:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for sazikov2000     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
IJP - thank you for the overwhelming refresh-course in Czech hall marks! Now I can throw away my Tardy...

FWG - your piece marked 1000 could be Japanese - that is the only country I know with this hall mark.

venus - before the story gets too adventurous it is better to show some fotos.

Sazikov 2000

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venus

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iconnumber posted 03-01-2006 04:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for venus     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

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venus

Posts: 282
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iconnumber posted 03-03-2006 01:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for venus     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Best I could do on the mark....

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