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Author Topic:   Another Whatzit?
tmockait

Posts: 963
Registered: Jul 2004

iconnumber posted 02-05-2006 01:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tmockait     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
[01-2384]

I have a hallmark question about this piece, but I thought it might be fun to post it as a "whatzit" first. If some one knows the answer off the bat, please hold back so we can have a bit of fun.

Tom

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Polly

Posts: 1939
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 02-05-2006 04:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Opium pipe?

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tmockait

Posts: 963
Registered: Jul 2004

iconnumber posted 02-05-2006 04:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tmockait     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No, but creative answer!

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Russell

Posts: 52
Registered: Oct 2003

iconnumber posted 02-05-2006 04:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Russell     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Tom,
Just a guess - a mate straw from South America.

Russ

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William Hood

Posts: 271
Registered: Apr 2000

iconnumber posted 02-05-2006 04:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for William Hood     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have a request to make of all submitters of whatzits. Please give dimensions. From your photograph, one cannot tell if this piece is 3 inches or 30 inches in length.

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tmockait

Posts: 963
Registered: Jul 2004

iconnumber posted 02-05-2006 05:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tmockait     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Oops, right you are about the dimensions: 8" long, 1/4" wide at narrowest point, 1" wide at widest point.

Rus,

You win - a Mate straw it is! The Spanish term is "bambilla". Instead of using a closed spoon or tea ball to contain the herb or tea leaves during brewing, people from parts of S. America strain the beverage by sipping it through these very elaborate straws. Modern ones seem to be made of Alpacca though I saw several antique ones (and a few new ones) made of silver. They often have a mouth piece of a different metal, perhaps because silver conducts heat so well (?). This one may be plate or silver, which leads me to the hallmark question. Anyone recognize this mark?

Thanks,
Tom

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Kayvee

Posts: 204
Registered: Oct 2004

iconnumber posted 02-05-2006 10:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kayvee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Made in Argentina, brand name or maker La Mulata

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tmockait

Posts: 963
Registered: Jul 2004

iconnumber posted 02-05-2006 11:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tmockait     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks. I gathered it was mad ein Argentina. Any idea of the silver content? Or if it is even silver?

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Kayvee

Posts: 204
Registered: Oct 2004

iconnumber posted 02-06-2006 09:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kayvee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As Argentina has a regulated silver standard, if an object isn't marked it is safe to assume that it is not silver.

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tmockait

Posts: 963
Registered: Jul 2004

iconnumber posted 02-06-2006 10:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for tmockait     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Agreed, but according to Tardy, current regulation dates to 1959. He does not indicate what marking system was used previously. I have not found many references in English for South American marks.

Thanks,
Tom

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Kayvee

Posts: 204
Registered: Oct 2004

iconnumber posted 02-06-2006 10:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kayvee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No standardized system was used prior to 1959. Another clue to the age of your straw is that the maker has a registered trademark. You could do a bit of research to find out when Argentina began to register trademarks. You might find that to begin quite late in the 20th C.

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FredZ

Posts: 1069
Registered: Jun 99

iconnumber posted 02-06-2006 02:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FredZ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I suspect this bombilla is made of nickle silver. Most of the modern ones are not made of silver. Yerba Mate is served very hot and is an acquired taste. My Mother and siblings are from Costa Rica and I have seen both historic and modern examples. Some of the historic pieces were made in silver sometime decorated with applied gold designs.

Mate is served in a hollowed out goard with metal mountings. Early silver mate containers of silver could be rather elaborate. The bombilla has a strainer to filter out the ingredients of the tea as it is been drawn through the straw.

Fred

[This message has been edited by FredZ (edited 02-06-2006).]

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tmockait

Posts: 963
Registered: Jul 2004

iconnumber posted 02-06-2006 03:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tmockait     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Fred. I did not taste the stuff but it did look interesting. The Uruguays encase the gourd or cup in leather and have a silver or nickel silver rim. Besides the cost, I would think solid silver would conduct heat to well to be an effective straw. I did see some marked "800" though.

Tom

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FredZ

Posts: 1069
Registered: Jun 99

iconnumber posted 02-07-2006 09:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for FredZ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Tom,

I too have seen bombillas marked 800 and have assumed that that was the finess of silver in the alloy. Silver bombillas are often made with a rather ornate center portion to the straw. Perhaps this was created to help discipate the heat that would normally be conducted by the silver to keep the mouthpiece cool.

Does the strainer open up so it can be cleaned out. Usually you can either unscrew the strainer from the shaft and this allows the two parts to open with a hinge for cleaning.

Fred

[This message has been edited by FredZ (edited 02-07-2006).]

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Kimo

Posts: 1597
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 02-07-2006 05:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Without a fineness marking you should assume it has no silver content. The Argentine silver I'm familiar with normally is marked with 800 or 925. These mate straws are very popular tourista items - they generally are hawked in the local markets as "authentic" gaucho (South American cowboy) items.

I've tried mate a couple of times in my visits to the area but I've not developed a taste for it. It is made with chopped up leaves from a local tree that you pack into a gourd or a fancy mug and then pour hot water in it. To my unsophisticated taste buds the flavor reminds me of what you might get by brewing up some dried some alfalfa and straw. It is definitely popular among the indians and various others in the southern cone region though so I know you must acquire the taste after a while.

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tmockait

Posts: 963
Registered: Jul 2004

iconnumber posted 02-07-2006 06:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tmockait     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This one is rather worn, and I bought it at the Sunday flea market frequented by locals rather than tourists. Most tourists to this area are from the Southern cone or Europe and they usually go to Punta del Este during the summer (e.g. January). So I think what I bought was actually made for use. I bought it for looks an curiosity and was by no means sure it was even silver. It cost me $6. I have alreay gotten more than my money's worth of enjoyment from this discussion.

Sadly, Uruguay has not had an indigenous population for over a century. Some were ethnic cleansed while others died of disease.
The drink survives, but as I said, I did not try it. Actually, I was more worried about how clean the "straws" were. They seem Ideal repository for germs. I suppose that is why each person has his/her own, rather like a tooth brush.

Tom

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t-man-nc

Posts: 327
Registered: Mar 2000

iconnumber posted 02-09-2006 06:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for t-man-nc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just curious, but I have seen a number of these lately, with Gold Bands... most obviously made to look older than I think them to be, I can't remember the marks, but I think they were better than 800 Silver...

Were these only made in So. America?

"Smaug"

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tmockait

Posts: 963
Registered: Jul 2004

iconnumber posted 02-09-2006 08:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tmockait     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Smaug,

I also saw ones with the bands you describe, although I think the metal may have been brass. I suspect that a baser, less conductive metal than silver may have been used to cut down on heat flow from the tea.

I suppose one could try and make these items look older, but they were so abundant as to hardly make it worthwhile. I suspect that the old ones found in the flea market I attended and in antique shops really are 800 silver.

As for the beverage and the straws, I understand that they are unique to S.America. I am not, however, a Latin American historian, so I am relying on colleagues for that information.

Regards,
Tom

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