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tline3open  Art Nouveau style - French silver - maker's mark?

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Author Topic:   Art Nouveau style - French silver - maker's mark?
cogito

Posts: 4
Registered: Jan 2008

iconnumber posted 01-01-2008 04:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cogito     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
[26-1559]

Hello all,

I'm a newbie, so I'm not certain if this post is most appropriate here or in the continental silver section.

I recently purchased an art nouveau creamer and matching cup/saucer, which from the Minerva mark I think means that it is french but the maker's mark has been difficult to track down. The creamer has an A-cross-B w/ star beneath mark, while the saucer/cup have the same mark but on these pieces it looks over struck by another mark (maybe the engraver?).


creamer


creamer mark


saucer/cup over struck mark

Any help on attributing these pieces to a maker would be most appreciated.

Jeff

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blakstone

Posts: 493
Registered: Jul 2004

iconnumber posted 01-01-2008 01:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for blakstone     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The maker's mark is that of Albert Beaufort of Paris, registered 16 Sep 1886, and the overstriking mark (probably the retailer) is that of C. Brunet, also of Paris.

Happy New Year!

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silverhunter

Posts: 704
Registered: Jul 2007

iconnumber posted 01-01-2008 04:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for silverhunter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Beautiful silverpiece, nice shape and engraving is beautiful done. (I've learned from the solution Blakstone).The marks are very clear, good sharp photo's. I'm not so familiar with french silvermarks so I have two short questions.
Are the french silversmiths intitials in stamped marks always used in combination with one star and do they use it only in France?.
The second question is, why are there a lot of countries using the symbol of a minerva head. In holland it's a check which is made by control offices.In the minerva head is stamped a letter which tells in which city it's checked. I'm curious about that.
H.N.Y.

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cogito

Posts: 4
Registered: Jan 2008

iconnumber posted 01-01-2008 04:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cogito     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you, both!!!! The Internet is such a wonderful thing.

Jeff

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blakstone

Posts: 493
Registered: Jul 2004

iconnumber posted 01-02-2008 01:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for blakstone     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The device in a French maker's mark can be anything of the maker's choosing; stars are popular but by no means mandatory.

Oddly enough, France is the only country which uses the Minerva head. The similar mark of other countries is actually the head of a different mythological figure, e.g.: Perseus in the Netherlands, Diana in Austria, Partenope in Naples, Cybele in later Italy, etc. These countries were all at least partially under the control of Napoleon's First Empire and eventually adopted, to some extent or another, French-style marking systems.

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DB

Posts: 252
Registered: May 2006

iconnumber posted 01-02-2008 10:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for DB     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Blakstone, I value your expertise in European silver, but Austria's Diana head was introduced 1867 and has very little to do with either the French system, nor Napoleon, nor was Austria ever under French rule.....

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tmockait

Posts: 963
Registered: Jul 2004

iconnumber posted 01-02-2008 01:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tmockait     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
He said "controled" not ruled, and he is correct. Napoleon defeated the Austrians at Ulm in 1805 and then destroyed an Austro-Russian army at Austerlitz the same year. He temporarily occupied Vienna, ended the Holy Roman Empire (which became the Austrian Empire at this point), and went on to marry the emperor's daughter to cement the alliance. Napoleon certainly strongarmed Austria, so I guess it depends on how one defines "control."

Minerva (Greek Athena) was goddess of crafts, which might explain the choice of her for the silver mark.

Diana (Greek Artimis) was goddess of the hunt, but in the 19th century her figure adorned commerical buildings, symbolizing the hunt for profit. Seems a bit far fetched, but there you have it.

Tom

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silverhunter

Posts: 704
Registered: Jul 2007

iconnumber posted 01-02-2008 04:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for silverhunter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Blakstone thank you for explaining the mythological figures and in which country they are used or still will be used.

Considering the name of the dutch mythological figure like you mentioned used in Holland is Perseus.I send a photo with my reaction because than I know if this is Persues and if it is, than in one of my books it is wrong used and called Minerva.

The little book is called "dutch gold-and silver marks 1445-1951 (Ellias Voet jr.) page 60 explaining number 10 of the figure on page 61.and is mentioned Minerva head.

So that's why I react (It's possible that I'm wrong so I read the lines in the book again). But it is interesting when they use the wrong mythological person name.

Tmockait also thank you for giving all the facts. Also interesting to know.

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DB

Posts: 252
Registered: May 2006

iconnumber posted 01-02-2008 04:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DB     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting history lesson, Tom, but in what way would the French troops occupying Vienna in 1805 and then 1809 have influenced Austrian stamping laws?? That Austria solved its expansion wishes and other problems with marriage is also a known fact - "tu felix Austria nube".I am Canadian and so not overly patriotic for Austria, but it should be said that the Austrian Empire had laws regulating the silversmithing trade since 1530. And I would like to see some written proof that the Diana head was introduced 1867 because the French introduced their Minerva head 1838.This whole discussion might be tedious, but rumours and errors mentioned on sites like the Forums tend to hang around for a long time.

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cogito

Posts: 4
Registered: Jan 2008

iconnumber posted 01-02-2008 06:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cogito     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hello again. I didn't mean to generate a controversy.

Are there any standard references or artist-specific materials that would provide biographical information for the silversmith and retailer involved in the piece that started this thread? I've done a thorough web search, but have come up empty handed. Are both persons relatively obscure?

Jeff

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DB

Posts: 252
Registered: May 2006

iconnumber posted 01-02-2008 10:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DB     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Catherine Arminjon wrote most of the Dictionnaires de fabricants d'ouvrages d'or at d'argent - so search under her name for the right period (there are several books) and there is apparently also a site from the French Ministry of Culture, which lists maker's marks - search the Forums and you will find it, I have never used it.
As for the Forum, please don't think we are a belligerent bunch of people, more or less a friendly exchange........of ideas, theories, knowledge......

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tmockait

Posts: 963
Registered: Jul 2004

iconnumber posted 01-02-2008 11:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tmockait     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
DB,

You missed my point. I was not saying anything about French influence on Austrian silver stamping, about which I have no expertise. However, you made a blanket statement about Blackstone's claim being incorrect when it was in fact correct. The Napoleonic Empire did exert control over Austria for a time. I am not sure what citizenship or patriotism have to do with the discussion. Like you I am interested in accuracy (and having fun!). I am a professional historian (who teaches military history) and a complete novice at silver collecting, so I try to contribute hisotrical background information when I can. I certainly meant no offense. By the way I travel fairly regularly to Canada and Austria, teaching at defense colleges in both countries (of which I am equally fond).

Happy New Year,
Tom

[This message has been edited by tmockait (edited 01-03-2008).]

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blakstone

Posts: 493
Registered: Jul 2004

iconnumber posted 01-03-2008 02:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for blakstone     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Good Gravy. That's what I get for posting so late at night.

I was wrong; the Dutch mark is indeed Minerva, according to the all the Dutch, Belgian, French references I have. I swear I thought it was Perseus, and I swear I read it somewhere, but clearly my mind was only trying to resolve the nuttiness of two Minerva's in two different countries. Mea Maxima Culpa.

I took that out, because upon reflection it was pretty snarky and I was in a foul mood. No more late-night posts, I promise.

DB, all I meant was that the new French system of marking was radical: it abolished all guilds, established nation-wide, state-run assay offices, instituted decimal calculation of fineness, etc. Later, when other countries were confronted with the economic changes of the Industrial Revolution and fall of the guild system, those that had been within the sphere of influence of France in the early part of the century adopted assay office and marking systems similar to France's, as opposed to the variant systems that developed outside of that sphere (Russia, Sweden, England, etc.).

I did not mean to imply that there was a direct, cause-and-effect line from Minerva to Diana. I meant only that the style of mark - a single mark, often a mythological figure, which contained a code for the assay office and a number for the standard of fineness - was a French innovation, and that this innovation was later adopted by Austria and other countries, though not necessarily by the force or imposition of the French.

In short, I was trying to answer briefly silverhunter's question about where all those mythological heads came from: "the French started it."

Hoping this clarifies things.

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silverhunter

Posts: 704
Registered: Jul 2007

iconnumber posted 01-03-2008 04:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for silverhunter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
All information is compleet what concerns the question I had. Thank you all for giving information. Now I have to find out all the looks likes, named by mythological persons. There are used a few different look likes of minerva mark stamps in Holland. I'm standing in the shadow off all that knowledge that you have. I enjoy to collect, try to find out information, put a question, or try to discuss about subjects on this forum.I never be able to correct you, thats for sure!

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tmockait

Posts: 963
Registered: Jul 2004

iconnumber posted 01-03-2008 01:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tmockait     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I found references to the Dutch Minerva as Perseus, so this seems to be a common confusion. I fired off an e-mail to the Dutch assay office to find out the origin of the mark and why they chose it. I suspect the choice of mythical figures was part of the nneo-classical movement that began in late 18th c. France and spread throughout Europe along with revolutionary ideas.

Cheers,
Tom

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cogito

Posts: 4
Registered: Jan 2008

iconnumber posted 01-03-2008 02:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cogito     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I checked and there are only two volumes (I believe) of Dictionnaires de fabricants d'ouvrages d'or at d'argent, with the second volume only extending to 1875. Since this maker was registered after this date, I'm assuming that these reference works will be of little use.

Any other suggestions on tracking down bio information on this silversmith and/or the retailer?

Jeff

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silverhunter

Posts: 704
Registered: Jul 2007

iconnumber posted 01-04-2008 10:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for silverhunter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Tmockait for trying to get information by sending your email.
I look forward for the answer.

André.

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Kimo

Posts: 1577
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 01-04-2008 11:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This discussion started my mind wandering and I got to thinking about old silver coins of the classical era. Many of these have busts of these various gods and goddesses on one side with the king or emperor on the other. The hallmarks being discussed are very much like small versions of these busts on such ancient coins and so I was wondering whether there may have been either a deliberate or subliminal decision at least in some cases to use these images to mark "modern" era (last couple of hundred years) silver given their millennia long connection to their officially marking classical era silver coins.

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