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Author Topic:   Fiddle Pattern Development
nihontochicken

Posts: 289
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 05-19-2003 07:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nihontochicken     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi, all!

I thought I'd try out the forum with my new registered name.

First, thanks again to those who helped with my Hanoverian tbs. hallmarks.

My follow up question is more one of general philosophy. We all know that the Old English Pattern (OEP) directly preceded the Fiddle Pattern (FP) as the most popular style of the time. (Note: I prefer "Oar Pattern" as it seems to me that the later true Fiddle Pattern exhibits the double swelling of the handle, but I will accede to general usage.) The major changes were the abrupt swelling of the handle from the stem, and the addition of shoulders (collars? fins?) at the base of the stem adjacent the drop. But which came first, the chicken or the egg (I love this kind of question wink , or in this case, the paddle or the shoulders? In America, it appears that there were numerous "shoulder-less" FP (or Oar Pattern) spoons made in the approx. 1800-1810 transition period. But I have yet to see an American shouldered OEP (well, the American equivalent) spoon. OTOH, I have seen some British shouldered OEP spoons, but not any British shoulder-less FP spoons. Here are some pics of the shouldered British OEP teaspoon I have, hallmarked lion passant and maker T.T (probably Thos. Towman, mark reg. 1771), no town or date marks as typical for small teaspoons, but bottom marked indicating likely made prior to 1781:


A shouldered OEP basting spoon just sold on line (alas pics have been removed) that was dated 1782. So, as opposed to what was evident in American practice, the idea of the shoulders apparently preceded that of the oar handle, at least in the Isles. Did the American lineage diverge from the British, only to converge again in the form of the shouldered Fiddle (Oar) Pattern? And who was first responsible for putting together the shouldered stem with the oar handle, Brit or American?

TIA for any enlightenment!!!

Rick

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nihontochicken

Posts: 289
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 05-19-2003 10:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nihontochicken     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It occurred to me that, yes, the French "invented" the Fiddle Pattern long before it was utilized by Britain and America. However, I'm interested in who firts combined the oar handle and shouldered stem in the Anglo-American tradition. Thanks!

Rick

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labarbedor

Posts: 353
Registered: Jun 2002

iconnumber posted 05-19-2003 11:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for labarbedor     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well I like your name, but it doesn't fit your character. FYI there are far to many letter substitutions in your question. All I could think of was SPQR. It took me five minutes to figure out OTOH wasn't a pattern. I was about to point out the fiddle pattern was French in origin, but you beat me to it. So I am not sure of the question. Unless you restrict your question to Anglos and leave out Canadians and Mississippi valley Frenchmen your answer is in your second posting. I hate to say it, but the French lead the way in most things cultural. Considering the influx of French silversmith throughout the colonies, I can't imagine one of them didn't just teach the Anglos how to do it. I like the nature of your question, because it reminds one of things like the shouldered OEP, and its possible abscense in the colonies. However I've got a better question. We all know that when the French made a spoon the tip was thicker, even to the extent that there was a little shelf. This allowed the owner to scrape the bottom of the bowl for a hundred years before there would be tip wear. Why didn't the Anglos here ever get that right?
Maurice

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nihontochicken

Posts: 289
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 05-20-2003 12:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for nihontochicken     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Maurice and all -

Okay, let me try again. Yes, the French invented the fiddle pattern. Soooo...

1. Was it adopted first by the Brits or by the Americans? By who and when?

2. In the late 1700s, American style began to significantly diverge from that of the British, particularly in drop shapes and finial shape. Later, the styles seemed to somewhat converge again (for a short while) in the form of the shouldered Oar Pattern spoon. In getting there, Brits had added the shoulders first, then the oar handle, whereas the Americans did the opposite. So who first put the shoulders and the oar handle together, and when?

Rick

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nihontochicken

Posts: 289
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 05-20-2003 12:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for nihontochicken     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Maurice, I forgot to respond to your question. The reason the Brit and American spoon tips were so thin as compared to the French items is that the Anglo-American mercantilists, always concerned with the value of a buck (or pound) were well aware that the silverware would one day become quite collectible in worth well beyond its silver content, and that tip wear would prove a major factor in separating the top items from the also-rans, thereby also separating the real men from the wannabees. You shoulda known! ;o)

Rick

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labarbedor

Posts: 353
Registered: Jun 2002

iconnumber posted 05-20-2003 10:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for labarbedor     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
OOO! Touché! But I'll bet the "American"who first did it turns out to be of French origin. He was just pointing out the mistakes of the others. Who has the earliest shoulder fiddle?
Maurice

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swarter
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iconnumber posted 05-24-2003 02:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Rick: in another posting on the coin silver forum you invited me to comment on these questions.

The English have paid more attention to the study of spoons than have the American authorities. I would refer you to Ian Pickford's 1983 "Silver Flatware - English, Irish and Scottish 1660 - 1980" for a detailed treatment with much information on the historical development of the various patterns within Great Britain, including the Coffin End and the Fiddle Without Shoulders (Oar Pattern in Scotland). The more general discussion of American spoons in Martha Gandy Fales' "Early American Silver" is probably as good as any. These should answer most of your questions without a long duscussion here.

I would add that, since many of the American silversmiths and their customers came from elsewhere, they brought with them their customs and preferences, and spoon patterns here reflected those tastes. After the Revolution, when Hanoverians had largely disappeared, rounded end (Old English) and downturned fiddles with shoulders were most popular, likely with the English (the popularity of the Coffin End modified OE after 1800 might be attributed to a desire to retain that pattern without appearing Loyalist in the post revoultionary period); downturned, finless fiddles most likely with the Scots; pointed end OE with Scots, Irish, and Germans; and double swell type fiddles perhaps with Scots and Scandinavians. The latter association is less clear, as the pattern also can be derived from the outline of the English Kings pattern, but that may be ultimately traceable Scandinavia anyway.

Which fiddle came first here is difficult to determine. The earliest fiddle with shoulders I can date without equivocation could have been made no later than 1801. The finless fiddles probably followed only a few years later, seem to have enjoyed their greatest popularity early on, and were largely supplanted by the more common shouldered variety. Only the downturned fiddles were made at first - the upturned French style did not attain popularity until the rise of the French derived Empire style. Round and pointed end OE styles continued to be made here into the 19th C (they are not automatically 18th C, as many ebay sellers would have you believe!).

Actually, some Old English with Shoulders were made in this country, probably in the 70's or 80's (Earlier in England), but perhaps because of war-related economic conditions, there were very few. I have seen published examples by Paul Revere, and possibly by Myer Myers and others, seemimgly prominent smiths with wealthier clienteles.

[This message has been edited by swarter (edited 05-24-2003).]

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nihontochicken

Posts: 289
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 05-24-2003 08:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for nihontochicken     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, swarter, for your response. I have Fales' book, but failed to see the detail there in which I am interested. I'll have to try Pickford's text. It is interesting that you indicate the the very first fiddle pattern spoons to appear here in the US were shouldered, and were then briefly supplanted by the shoulderless fiddle (or oar) pattern. That is a wrinkle I hadn't seen or considered. It does seem that there were a boatload of shoulderless fiddle (oar) pattern spoons made in the US between about 1800 and 1810, when the fins were added to essentially all American spoons. OTOH, the Brits added fins to a few Old English pattern spoons beginning around 1780 or so, but these apparently never gained much popularity. So in the Isles, at about 1800, it appears that the British went from the standard (finless) Old English pattern to the finned or shouldered fiddle pattern in one swell foop. Before I get the Pickford text, can you indicate who it was introduced the shouldered fiddle in the US "no later than 1801"? Thanks!

Rick

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wev
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iconnumber posted 05-24-2003 08:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
...the very first fiddle pattern spoons to appear here in the US were shouldered

I think he was referring to Old English pattern spoons, not fiddlebacks. Here is an example, one of six by Revere, his mark overstamped by J. Austin.

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swarter
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iconnumber posted 05-24-2003 09:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Rick:

I don't think I said that finless fiddles ever supplanted the shouldered varieties - only that they had a shorter period of popularity. Both were made at the same time, both here and in England, where the fiddles without shoulders were never very popular, nor were they as popular in England as they might have been in Scotland or here.

I have no idea exactly when the first American made fiddles appeared, nor who might have been the first to make them. I am sure that there were plenty of English ones in circulation; exactly who first copied one may never be known. The spoon I referred to is one made by Isaac Davenport sometime prior to 1801, when he stopped working - exactly when it was made cannot be determind, as there is no provenance with it, nor do I know if there is a surviving day book of his in which it might be documented. I would not be surprised if there were earlier ones by someone else, but there might not have been many. You will not find the kind of specific details you apparently seek in Fales' book nor any other I know of, because they simply may not exist.

The point is that these styles are not inventions - they evolved gradually over time, and in the case of American styles, virtually none are original - all are copies of, or derivations of, styles brought from elsewhere. As far as the major styles go, much the same is true of England - it might be better to wait and read the book carefully before trying to draw any firm conclusions from what is around now. An example of the pitfalls of doing this is that, at least according to Pickford, the shouldered Old English spoons, which were made in England in the 1760's and 70's, are so rare there today because people trying to complete sets of Old English without shoulders, took shouldered ones and had the shoulders removed!

[This message has been edited by swarter (edited 05-24-2003).]

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FredZ

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Registered: Jun 99

iconnumber posted 05-24-2003 11:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FredZ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Since I am a silversmith I will talk about the making of the early spoons and that many designs originate from the process in making such items.

The thickened tip is a natural result as the spoon is handwrought. If you look carefully at one of the steps of the spoon process as I have detailed in this forum. The tip is thickened while it is narrowed to form the point of the bowl.

Some of the older American spoons I own, dating to the late 18th century when more pointed bowls became popular, do have thickened points and have those shelves talked about.

I imagine some craftsmen need to be frugal in the use of silver when making spoons. We have all seen coin silver spoons so thin that could not hold up to a bowl of ice-cream.

Shoulders are devolped as the bowl is forged to widen it and if the craftsman does not intentionally forge the handle to narrow it and remove the fins. The fins can be shaped to form the shoulders.

No doubt the early American craftsmen brought with them the traditions and skill from the countries where they learned their craft. Their apprentices were taught these traditions and techniques.

I have noted the English influence in particular.

Was the fluted bowl a French trait? I have four spoons by William Roe and as we have seen, Revere use a fluted swage in some of his spoons.

Fred

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labarbedor

Posts: 353
Registered: Jun 2002

iconnumber posted 05-25-2003 12:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for labarbedor     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Could Fred direct me to the making of the spoon posting? I will bet diamonds against dimes I can find a bigger ledge on a French spoon than on any American one. I have seen small ledges on American ones which were like new, otherwise nothing. If I understand you correctly that means the American silversmiths had to acutally remove the shelves. Incroyable.
I am fairly certain, and I have to watch myself with this group, that fluting was very uncommon in French spoons. I have usually associated it with Scotland (at leaset when not talding about America). I reserve the right to weigh in on the fin question later. I would think it would be very useful to see if a concensus is possible. I would save a copy of the result.
Maurice

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

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Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 05-25-2003 10:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Fred-
Is this the one?
Spoon Making Sequence (click here)

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FredZ

Posts: 1069
Registered: Jun 99

iconnumber posted 05-25-2003 01:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FredZ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Maurice,

You missunderstood. I do not imply that the American smiths removed the shelf. Only that some of them forged and planished the spoon bowl while flat so that it was nearly the same thickness throughout.

To make the shelf we ar talking about, the thickness must be greater at the middle and tip of the spoon for durability and this when filed creates a rather sturdy and wide shelf.

I have no doubt that the French made them bigger and I won't take that as a boast... just a fact.

I am working on making a Word file on the raising of a vessel. I will post it when the images and text are finished.

Fred

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swarter
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iconnumber posted 05-25-2003 02:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No words serve as well as a picture or two:

The first shows a French Fiddle (Freedom Fiddle?) and two American ones - the extended pointed tip is present, but not as well developed - there is wear on each.

All American 19th Century spoons originally had pointed tips, before the bowl butchers got through with them - misuse (pot stirring and scraping), buffing wheels, and reshaping to hide wear, have eliminated the tips and flat tops from the bowl edges of most spoons we see. Below is a selection of styles with remaining tips to substantiate this statement (all show varying degrees of wear):

Eighteenth Century styles - trefid, dognose, and hanoverian - had more oblong bowls, rounded at the tips, as did the earliest Old English spoons. Old English and a few late hanoverian bowls became more pointed as the end of the Century approached.

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wev
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iconnumber posted 05-25-2003 02:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for wev     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This may be an appropriate place to establish some definitions. I have made up a PDF of a good basic glossary covering most spoon parts; it shouldn't be hard to discern the source

It is not complete and we may have some disputes over terms, but it is a good starting place.

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swarter
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iconnumber posted 05-25-2003 03:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Excellent move, Sir Moderator! Something like this is much needed - I hope folks who don't have something like it will print it out and use it!

[This message has been edited by swarter (edited 05-26-2003).]

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agphile

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Registered: Apr 2008

iconnumber posted 09-10-2011 08:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for agphile     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This thread predates my membership of the Forum. I thought it might be of interest to revive it with some detail in reply to the original question about when the Fiddle pattern was introduced and when shoulders appeared.

Though rare before the 19th century, the Fiddle pattern actually has a long history in England. This picture shows a tablespoon by David Willaume I, London, 1697.

It is actually a Trefid with only miniscule notches in the stem end but I see it as a proto-fiddle.

Pickford’s “Silver Flatware” illustrates a 1739 Fiddle pattern spoon (no shoulders) as the earliest known English example of the pattern proper. My next picture shows a dessert spoon by John Gorham, London, 1747.

Like the 1739 spoon, the stem end curves upwards as it does on Hanoverian spoons of the same period and is without shoulders. Spoons like this were made for customers who wanted to add pieces to a French made service or who were Francophile enough to want a service in the French style.

The next picture shows a pair of serving spoons by WC, London, 1761, in a Fiddle, Thread and Shell variant pattern. I also have a tablespoon and dessert spoon in the same pattern, same maker and date and bearing the same crest. Although acquired separately, they clearly come from a dispersed set made for a Francophile customer.

The stem end still turns upwards, but we now have a pair of narrow shoulders.

I shall continue the story in a further post.


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Scott Martin
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iconnumber posted 09-10-2011 09:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is very good.
Please continue.

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agphile

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iconnumber posted 09-10-2011 12:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for agphile     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I’m not sure what date saw the appearance of what we would now see as the standard fiddle pattern with down-turned stem end and shoulders, My earliest example is a dessert spoon by Smith and Fearn, London, 1788.

My apologies for not getting round to taking a better picture. However, you should be able to see that it has all the essential features, though its proportions are slimmer (and to my eye more elegant) than the later Victorian versions. For comparison I show another dessert spoon that is actually just pre-Victorian, by John Sutter, Chester, 1836.

Fiddle pattern spoons remained relatively uncommon through the 1790s, and often still dispensed with shoulders, as this Fiddle and Thread dessert spoon by Eley and Fearn, London, 1799.

However, from 1800 on the familiar Fiddle pattern with shoulders grew quickly in popularity, becoming one of the standards of the 19th century.

To turn to the second question originally posed, about when shoulders first appeared on Old English (OE) pattern spoons, my earliest OE spoon is from 1762 and my earliest OE with shoulders from 1767. These dates don’t prove anything but at least support my feeling that OE had appeared by about 1760 and OE with shoulders followed shortly thereafter.

Incidentally, the fashion for shoulders was not restricted to Fiddle and OE. Onslow pattern spoons were sometimes given shoulders. This example is a tablespoon by RR, London, 1772.

And extremely rarely you will find a Hanoverian spoon with shoulders. I have only come across a couple of English examples. This one is a pretty tired teaspoon, worn maker’s mark (C-) and lion passant only, and would seem to date from the 1760s.

From all this I am inclined to say that there was a bit of a fashion for shoulders in the 1760s and 1770s that may have started with the fiddle pattern but was applied on occasion to all the patterns in vogue at the time.

However, shoulders may have made a fleeting appearance in England very much earlier. My final picture is of an unusual spoon with just a maker’s mark: AR, the Britannia standard mark of Andrew Archer. The mark and the shape of the bowl, combine to suggest a date of around 1715, give or take a bit. I hope the picture reproduces well enough for you to see that there is a pair of very tiny shoulders on the stem just above the bowl.

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swarter
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iconnumber posted 09-11-2011 07:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for swarter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
American made shouldered Old English style spoons are extremely rare as few surviving specimens are known to exist. Here is a post with an example from the 1770s:
(rare form #2)

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agphile

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iconnumber posted 10-09-2011 01:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for agphile     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A P.S. on the love affair with French fashions among some of the elite in Britain.

This small, teaspoon-sized marrow spoon is unmarked and looks very French to me. I guess it dates from around 1760. The crest of the Marquess of Tweeddale is engraved on the back of the bowl. It could have been bought on the continent but I suspect it may have been commissioned from an English silversmith. We know that English smiths did not always get commissioned pieces marked. De Lamerie was a notable example but I am not trying to claim him as the maker. As the stem has shoulders, I thought it might be a relevant addition to the pieces that have been illustrated so far.

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