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tline3open  Hallmark confusion...French?

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Author Topic:   Hallmark confusion...French?
allentownboy

Posts: 67
Registered: Feb 2009

iconnumber posted 10-07-2011 06:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for allentownboy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
[26-2203]

It's been a looooong time since I have posted here, and I know that if there is anywhere I can go for expert advice, it's here! Here is my situation:

I recently purchased a rather large vermeil service (109 pieces) at a "junk" sale and have some serious confusion over the marks. They look French, as do the pieces, but they don't seem to show up in any research I have done thus far. Perhaps someone here may understand them better than I do. I am not even certain what they are made of, as it doesn't look like a "Minerva" hallmark to me. What I do see is:

  1. A right-facing profile in an oval
  2. What looks to be a Gothic letter C or G
  3. A crown with a B turned horizontally balanced upon a larger M
  4. The makers mark in a diamond of what appears to be a B.D with nothing between the letters but a period.

Any ideas?

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Kayvee

Posts: 204
Registered: Oct 2004

iconnumber posted 10-08-2011 05:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kayvee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Nice find! These marks are not French. I believe they are from Bahia, Brazil. The crowned M with a reversed B on top is the silver standard mark from Bahia used late 18th to early 19th C. There are guild archives for Bahia that might lead you to the maker, but I don't have access to that information.

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allentownboy

Posts: 67
Registered: Feb 2009

iconnumber posted 10-08-2011 08:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for allentownboy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Kayvee, than you so much for helping to solve part of the mystery for me! Frankly, I'm a bit stunned. Brazil?? It would NEVER have occurred to me to think about researching this outside of a European country because the marks seem so "European" looking! I never even knew Brazil had a silversmithing trade at that time period...

I guess it does raise other questions now that country of origin has been determined, like:

Do you think it may date from the period you mentioned - late 18th or early 19th century?

What is the silver purity standard? 800? 900?

Is (potential) colonial Brazilian silver uncommon, and thus maybe better served being donated to a museum if rare? Although I cannot, by site rules, say what I paid for it, I can say that if it is at all important, I would rather it be where it can be curated properly. Truth is, I have 9 huge sets now and probably don't need another!

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Kayvee

Posts: 204
Registered: Oct 2004

iconnumber posted 10-08-2011 09:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kayvee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is outside my area of experience, but it seems that silver production had an important place in the life of colonial Brazil. The raw material was imported from Peru. For more information you might want to check out Ricardo Ferreira’s interesting overview article on Brazilian silver manufacture on another silverphile website.

My input would be to enjoy your new service for your personal use. While unusual to find it in North America, silver produced in Brazil is not extremely rare. I have seen it in Uruguay, a former province of Brazil, where I was traveling on business.

As for the date, according to Tardy the Bahia mark on your set dates it to late 18th – early 19th C. Later in the 19th C the mark for Bahia changed to a crowned B without the M.

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allentownboy

Posts: 67
Registered: Feb 2009

iconnumber posted 10-08-2011 10:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for allentownboy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks so much Kayvee.

Well, I'll be darned. I found a little treasure and didn't even know it!

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Polly

Posts: 1939
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 10-09-2011 08:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
How exciting!

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Kimo

Posts: 1597
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 10-11-2011 10:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is a really beautiful set of old Brazilian silver, but it may or may not be colonial Brazilian silver. Keep in mind that Portugal moved its center of government and hence its culture to Brazil from 1808 to 1821. During this time Brazil became a Kingdom affiliated with Portugal in 1815 and achieved its complete independence in 1823. The crown/sideways B/M marking was used for a while around that time period. I do not know Brazilian silversmiths or their markings so you would need to find a specialist reference book to understand the other markings on your flatware to try to determine a narrower date range.

The silver itself could have been locally mined in Brazil, or it could have come from one of the two major silver producers of the region - Mexico or Peru.

The European styling of your flatware is what you would expect of Brazilian silver, or pretty much any other Latin American country's silver of the time as most of the people came from Europe, or their ancestors did. The silversmiths would have also come from Europe or have been trained by silversmiths who learned their craft in places like Portugal, Spain, and other European countries who sent emigrants to Brazil. The move of the Portuguese government and most of the wealthier population to Brazil at that time would have included the people who made things for them such as the silversmiths.

Brazilian silver is uncommon in the USA and most European countries, but Brazil was a very large country with a substantial population in those days so I would expect a fairly large amount of this kind silver would have been made then and likely much of it is still around in Brazil. I would expect the really rare museum quality silver to be the things that were locally made in the 1500s, 1600s, and perhaps into the early 1700s.

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allentownboy

Posts: 67
Registered: Feb 2009

iconnumber posted 12-02-2011 10:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for allentownboy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Kimo,

I posted a reply thanking you for your additional info awhile back, as well as close up pics of the blades on the knives, but it seems to have disappeared into the ether...hmmmm. Odd.

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Kimo

Posts: 1597
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 12-03-2011 01:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks. I never saw a reply, though. Perhaps you did not include your user name or password - I have done that once or twice. You forget to include one or both, or you mis-type one of them and you click the Submit Reply button and everything seems to go okay until you read the fine print on the page thate comes up saying to go back and check to be sure your user name and password are added or spelled correctly.

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