World of Coins

Other tokens and medals => Advertising, propaganda and numismatic artefacts => Private countermarks => Topic started by: brandm24 on March 26, 2020, 11:58:25 AM

Title: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: brandm24 on March 26, 2020, 11:58:25 AM
I thought I'd start a thread portraying coins or tokens featuring silversmith counterstamps, retail marks , or touchmarks. Other "fine craftsmen" would include goldsmiths, watch and clock makers, jewelers, pewterers, whitesmiths, etc. Examples from all countries are welcomed as the small number I have are mostly from American makers. I'd love to see yours.

I'll start with one of the older ones in my collection, a piece I bought at auction 6 or 7 years ago. The host coin is an 1803 American Large Cent. The stamps include two "A & G Welles" stamps in oblong depressions struck in an X-shape surrounded by four spread eagle touchmarks. As American silversmith counterstamps go, this one is quite early...sometimes between about 1804 and 1811.

Alfred and George Welles were brothers. George was born in Gilead, Connecticut in 1784, but details of Alfred's birth are unknown to me. Their parents were John Howell Wells and Mary Bills.

The "A & G Welles" smithy was founded in Boston in about 1804 and survived only until 1811. From whatever reason the partnership was dissolved at that time. George then partnered with a man named Hugh Gelston in the firm of George Welles & Co...later named Welles & Gelston. Apparently, they imported jewelry and military regalia but were not silversmiths. Their shop was at 56 Cornhill in Boston right next door to the old A. & G. Welles shop at no. 55. A third partner, Horace Porter, joined the firm in 1825 and it was re-branded  Welles, Gelston & Porter. The partnership ended with George Welles death in 1827.

The fate of Alfred Wells is a bit sketchy after the dissolution of the partnership with his brother. Apparently, he continued in business as a jeweler until his own passing in 1860. But further details of his business were uncovered.

The stamps on the A.& G. Welles coins are too large for silverware, especially the eagle stamps, so there products were likely limited to larger items such as  tankards, tea pots, pitchers, etc. I have attached an image of a server c1805 made by them

Only two of these stamped coins are documented, my example and a second on an 1802 Large Cent. Interestingly, the second example has two additional stamps, "G. Libby / 1790" applied to it. While the identity of Libby is uncertain, it has been speculated that he may have been a maker or importer of military equipment retailed by W & G. The date stamp resembles that of a model number or type found sometimes on firearms and swords, and thus the speculation. Libby has not been positively identified.

Bruce
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: Paris on March 28, 2020, 12:44:02 AM
Do you know the reason to counterstamp these coins?
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: Figleaf on March 28, 2020, 08:00:12 AM
I suppose it was to test the stamps. If I'd have that counterstamped coin, I'd crave that cake server. :)

There is an interesting predecessor to this practice: the "probatio pennae (https://books.google.fr/books?id=28pAcp7hY7gC&pg=RA1-PA29&lpg=RA1-PA29&dq=probatio+pennae+si+bona+sit&source=bl&ots=SeNi44tya5&sig=ACfU3U2Qbr32F8Jm6QfjmZvrb-IWNNhxmA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjW6YrpyrzoAhVB4YUKHbxiDLwQ6AEwAnoECAYQAQ#v=onepage&q=probatio%20pennae%20si%20bona%20sit&f=false) si bona sit." In medieval times, monks would make their own pens, but before they'd use them on valuable vellum, they would test them on scrap vellum with a standard phrase to see if they were well cut.

Peter
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: brandm24 on March 28, 2020, 10:20:19 AM
Do you know the reason to counterstamp these coins?
It would be to test their punches as well as to advertise. Counterstampers in early years very rarely stamped anything but their name on coins...no address, city, or even their trade. Typically, the circulation of coinage was very local so the merchant would be recognized by name only.

Most silversmith marks are struck on silver coins for obvious reasons, so this one on copper is a bit unusual. Not rare but less common.

Bruce
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: brandm24 on March 28, 2020, 10:26:33 AM
I suppose it was to test the stamps. If I'd have that counterstamped coin, I'd crave that cake server. :)

There is an interesting predecessor to this practice: the "probatio pennae (https://books.google.fr/books?id=28pAcp7hY7gC&pg=RA1-PA29&lpg=RA1-PA29&dq=probatio+pennae+si+bona+sit&source=bl&ots=SeNi44tya5&sig=ACfU3U2Qbr32F8Jm6QfjmZvrb-IWNNhxmA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjW6YrpyrzoAhVB4YUKHbxiDLwQ6AEwAnoECAYQAQ#v=onepage&q=probatio%20pennae%20si%20bona%20sit&f=false) si bona sit." In medieval times, monks would make their own pens, but before they'd use them on valuable vellum, they would test them on scrap vellum with a standard phrase to see if they were well cut.

Peter
Interesting story about the monks.

I thought of cake too when I first saw the server. :)

Bruce
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: Paris on March 28, 2020, 11:53:47 AM
Thanks. Perhaps is it more usual on silver coins because if their aim was to test the stamp, they would have better to do so on the same metal they would use for their works. The resistance of the metal for exemple may be different.
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: Figleaf on March 28, 2020, 01:38:37 PM
Keep in mind that the stamps were applied by hand, so pressure was inaccurate anyway. The reasoning was probably that a cent cost just a cent, the flan was already cut to size and there was no need to re-melt. Used as an ad, it could be even more cost-effective, since the receiver had a fair chance of spending it again. Therefore the ad could be seen as a gift of a little bit of money.

Peter
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: Paris on March 28, 2020, 01:51:27 PM
It is the opposite of what brandm24 wrote : rarer on copper coins than on silver coins.
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: brandm24 on March 28, 2020, 03:49:13 PM
I should have clarified my statement "for obvious reasons".  I think both of you make good points. A test would be more accurate on silver because it's the material he'll be stamping. Copper is softer and takes the stamp differently. On the other hand, if the stamper means to advertise, the copper would be readily available and circulate more. The large cents of the day were the workhorse of everyday commerce so the ad would reach more people.

The evidence I've seen for silver vs. copper is anecdotal of course. Decades of studying counterstamping has led me to that conclusion. It may actually be that examples on copper were more common but most have disappeared over the years. Silver is more durable in more ways than one.

Bruce
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: brandm24 on March 29, 2020, 12:14:27 PM
I bought this example of an early silversmith mark from a collector in Little Falls, NJ in September, 2014. At the time I wasn't sure about the trade or identity of "JS" but felt that it was worth paying a premium for. After a bit of research and assistance from a fellow collector, we discovered it was the mark of Windham, CT silversmith John Staniford. Since it wasn't listed in Greg Brunk's counterstamp reference, I wrote a short description and sent it along with a picture for him to see. Below is that description.


     The 1786 Spanish 1-Reale is stamped with the mark of silversmith John Staniford who practiced in Windham, CT. from 1760 until about 1793. The last two or three years he was in a partnership with Alfred Elderkin trading as Staniford & Elderkin.
     
     For unknown reasons he decided to open a tavern and inn in about 1794 and abandon the silversmith trade. He operated his new business on Windham Green in Windham until his death in 1811.

     Staniford was born in Ipswitch, MA in May, 1737 to Thomas Staniford and Sarah Burnham. He married Jerusha Stoughton on July 5, 1760 and would later (1765) have a daughter with her named Mary.There is some evidence that he also had a son  (John Jr.?) who later continued operation of the inn after his father's death. Staniford passed away  on August 12, 1811 and was buried in Windham Center Cemetery.

     I think this is an important early American silversmith's counterstamp. Pre 19th century examples are rare, this one even more so because it's struck on a Spanish 1-Reale. The denomination circulated very little in America, unlike the 2-Reale and higher value Spanish coins. The stamp is easy to date as well.The wear pattern of the coin, counterstamp and even the hole are consistent, so it would have been stamped and holed between 1786 (date of the coin) and 1790 / 91 when Staniford abandoned his independent practice and partnered with Alfred Elderkin. It's at least interesting to speculate that John Staniford himself may have carried or wore it as a personal "pocket piece".


Since 2014 I've done additional research but haven't found any significant information to share. I did come across a notation in one reference that noted there were a set of Staniford's tools, including a punch used to stamp his silver, in the silver collection of  the Heritage Foundation. Unfortunately, I wasn't successful in taking it any further, Also in the same reference it stated that Staniford's "sunburst mark" was first registered in 1785. That information fits nicely with my original assumption of an issuance date 1786 thru 1790 / 91.

With the pictures of the coin, I've included ones of alternate marks used by Staniford.

Bruce
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: Figleaf on March 29, 2020, 07:58:44 PM
Another pretty brilliant piece of research, Bruce. I am quite impressed. Thank you for posting it here. Did you ever get a reaction from Brunk?

As for the change from jeweller to inn keeper, this may be explained by the fact that in these days, inns could serve as mini market places. Think of Lloyd's coffee house (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lloyd%27s_Coffee_House) in London that developed into a serious financial business. If, for whatever reason, Staniford decided he could make more money as a, say, metal trader than as a jeweller, an inn would have been a good business model.

Peter
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: brandm24 on March 29, 2020, 10:30:00 PM
Thank you so much for your kind words, Peter. Researching historical issues and people from past eras was never a chore for me as it's something I love to do. Understanding history is important to me. Even more important is the people who made it.

I suppose I did but don't recall whether Brunk mentioned it in our correspondence or not. For years we kept in touch through snail mail as he never shared his email address with me. Apparently, he enjoyed written communications over other forms. That changed about five years ago when he finally connected with me via email. The original edition of his reference was printed in 2003. In 2013 he sent me a copy of the unedited manuscript for a second edition so the Staniford material wouldn't have been included.

You make an interesting point about the importance of colonial inns and taverns. It was a gathering place for all kinds of people and offered opportunities for an enterprising man such as Staniford. It may very well be that the contacts he made there were very beneficial to him. It may also be that he tired of the silversmith trade and had lost interest in it.

Bruce
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: malj1 on March 30, 2020, 12:11:22 AM
I'm frustrated with the search engine here I can do better searching with Google search but I'm unable to find the thread discussing this silver sixpence from 1877. There is also another thread showing silversmiths marks.

The obverse has been erased and then engraved and holed and after all this has had the hole filled and then been counter-stamped with these stamps.

Maybe IG is Indian Government?
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: brandm24 on March 30, 2020, 11:39:44 AM
The mark "(Crown) / IG / 53 (Cross)" looks similar to British cutler's stamps I've seen, Mal. I have a piece in my collection stamped somewhat like that. it's been awhile since I've seen it so don't remember precisely what's stamped on it. I'll go look for it later and post a picture. There's also a website or two that lists a small number of cutler marks but I don't recall what it was. I'll have to think on that one.

It looks like your coin was re-purposed...a couple of times. A possible love token to begin with I think. I guess the marriage ended badly. :(

Bruce
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: brandm24 on March 30, 2020, 03:20:06 PM
This coin is from my collection, and while it's not a match to the 6 pence, it is similar in some ways.

William Butcher was a Birmingham cutler who used this stamp ( the W. Butcher one) between 1818 and 1828. The arrow and cross are apparently newer and may have been used while in later partnerships, one of those being with his brother Samuel as W.& S. Butcher. The "German Steel" is an implied warranty of quality material and workmanship. Other enticements such as "Cast Steel" or "Warranted" were also used for the same purpose by toolmakers, and other craftsmaen.

I looked on several sites to see if I could match the symbols on your coin to a company or individual, but was unable to do so. I've posted an I.G. mark that was used by the silversmith firm of John Green, Roberts, Moseley & Co. c.1793 - 1803. It's certainly not related to your IG stamp but illustrates the common use of an I in place of a J in the name John. It was nearly universal in early years though I don't recall the reason why it was done. In short, your IG stamp may really stand for JG. No apparent help in identifying it but just something to keep in mind.

An interesting mystery that I'll look into further.

Bruce
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: brandm24 on March 30, 2020, 06:09:36 PM
Here's a great resource for researching English silver hallmarks and maker's marks. I've used it often and recommend to all who have an interest in such things.   English silver hallmarks: British maker's marks identification JC (http://www.silvercollection.it/englishsilvermarksXJCCC.html)

There are other useful sites too for world and US silver. I'll provide links after I have a chance to review them.

Bruce
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: brandm24 on April 06, 2020, 09:30:16 PM
Another silversmith stamp from my collection is even older than the Staniford example posted earlier. Though the counterstamp is unevenly struck and heavily worn, it's easily assigned to Massachusetts silversmith William Swan. I've attached an example of the complete stamp pictured online, plus an alternate mark of Swan's.

Swan was born in Charlestown on April 18, 1715. His father, Ebenezer, died when William was only a year old, so he was raised by his mother Prudence.

I found no record of who he apprenticed with but was in the trade in Boston by at least 1740. His tenure there lasted until 1752 when he removed to Marlborough. Spending only two years there, he moved on to Worcester in 1754. It's uncertain how long he practiced in Worcester as I found no record of him past 1755, at least not as a practicing silversmith. However, he remained a resident of that city until his death on May 4 ,1774. A notice of his passing appeared in the May 5th edition of the "Boston Weekly News-Letter" where he was described as "Goldsmith, formerly of Boston, a man of a very respectable character." He was survived by his wife of thirty years, Levinah Keyes Swan.

Two other pieces of information came to my attention in regard to his years in Worcester. He was appointed Clerk of the Market in 1772 and Sealer of Weights and Measures a year later in 1773.

Three examples of Swan's work were found online. A covered cup dated 1749 now in the Essex Institute, a porringer c 1750 in the collection of the Winterthur Library, and a silver cream pot c 1755 housed at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The pot was engraved KC (Katherine Chandler Willard) and JM (her son John Willard). The covered cup was engraved "THE / Gift of Province of the / MASSACHUSETTS / BAY / TO / Benjamin Pickman, Esq' / 1749" with the Pickman family crest on the back. The porringer was engraved "V" over "EL" over "OL to PL." These are initials of unknown persons, but was likely a wedding gift or something of that nature

The counterstamp in struck on a heavily worn George 2nd halfpenny of unknown date. These coins were minted from 1727 until 1760. Taking into account the extreme wear on the coin and the stamp, I would guess that it was applied sometime during his 1749 / 1753 tenure in Boston. A very old American silversmith mark indeed.

Bruce
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: brandm24 on April 06, 2020, 09:56:20 PM
I meant to attach this picture of Swan's covered cup. When I went to retrieve the picture online, I learned something of the engraving done on silver pieces in this time period.

Silversmiths rarely did their own engraving, leaving that task to professional engravers. This cup is thought to be engraved by a craftsman names James Turner of Marblehead, Massachusetts. Turner was extremely talented and was used by many smiths to adorn their work.

Bruce
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: Figleaf on April 06, 2020, 10:19:09 PM
Not sure if this will help, but it will do no harm. According to this source (https://ancestors.familysearch.org/en/LDTK-6K8/levinah-keyes-1725-1813), Levinah and William had 12 (!) children. Seven lived to "ripe" old age, including Lavinia and William Jr..

Just for the fun of it, here (https://www.geni.com/people/Capt-Humphrey-Keyes/6000000009244223740) is the story of Humphrey Keyes, brother of Levinah.

Peter
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: brandm24 on April 07, 2020, 11:39:47 AM
I knew they had a pond full of Swans, but found nothing about them. ;D

 It's always fun to investigate the families of people you're researching. It adds a human touch to the often dry facts of date, place, and situation. Not only that, but it sometimes reveals things about your subject that you didn't discover by only investigating THEM.

Thanks, Peter.

Bruce
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: brandm24 on April 18, 2020, 05:55:16 PM
Franklin Richmond was a rather obscure American silversmith, jeweler and watchmaker who worked his whole life in Providence, Rhode Island. His years in practice are generally given as 1819 through 1858, but during my research I found a reference to him in Stephen Ensko's  1948 reference "American Silversmiths and Their Marks". In it, Ensko, dates his mark, the bar stamp struck on my coin to 1815. While details of early craftsmen are sometimes contradictory due to poor historical records or sloppy research, the difference here is of little importance.

Richmond was born in Little Compton in 1792 to father Benjamin and mother Sarah Church. He married Elizabeth Coy in 1817 in Providence and had a daughter with her named Harriet. Little more is known of his personal life.

 In an advertisement in the Sept.22, 1819 edition of the "Providence Patriot" he introduced himself as a silversmith and watchmaker and sought an apprentice for watch repairing. His shop was at 17 Market and later 43 and 45 Market. In the 1850 census he was listed as a jeweler only.

I described Richmond as "obscure" because almost nothing of his work seems to have survived. I came across about a half dozen tea spoons all with the alternate mark shown below. I found no examples of Richmond manufactured clocks or watches or any jewelry with his mark. The bar style back mark found on my coin is pictured in Flynt & Fales silver reference, but wasn't seen on any products.

My coin, an 1803 US large cent, was acquired from Steve Hayden's Mail Bid Sale #40, Lot 401 (July, 2014). It has an illustrious pedigree having been in the collections of Dave Bowers, John J. Ford, and F.C.C. Boyd. Richmond is listed in Brunk's reference. Only three examples are known in both styles.

In addition to finding only a small number of extant examples of Richmond's work, I came across a single example of a watch paper in the collection of the "American Antiquarian Society." Watch papers are small oval slips of decorative paper or fabric used to protect the inner workings of the watch. They also served as advertisements. The paper, probably parchment, was printed while the fabric examples were hand sewn. I've attached a picture of the watch paper. The other illustration is a sketch of a typical 19th century watch maker's shop.

Bruce

Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: mrbadexample on April 18, 2020, 10:51:20 PM
I've posted this before here: http://www.worldofcoins.eu/forum/index.php/topic,37689.msg238017.html#msg238017

I would be interested if the maker could be identified - letters AT with what appears to be a bee in the middle.
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: Figleaf on April 19, 2020, 11:25:39 AM
Your research is great, Bruce. The watch paper was a discovery for me. I suppose watch cases were not yet dust-tight. I had a bit of a chuckle over the learned Latin motto PRO VIRENCE (for ruin), which is presumably the opposite of what the dear Mr. Richmond wanted to proclaim. Or maybe ANTI VIRENCE sounded too Russian-revolutionary :D

Peter
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: brandm24 on April 19, 2020, 11:38:29 AM
I assume that's the small diamond-shaped stamp just below the loop on the pendant? If the piece is silver, I expect it's a silversmith or jeweler maker's hallmark...most likely a jeweler. I'm pretty sure it's English by the style. American makers often used pseudo-hallmarks to imply quality and imitate English craftsmanship, but I doubt this is one of them.

It would be good if you could get a sharper picture but it looks to be a difficult piece to photograph. You could try to scan it. Scans often raise the stamp designs above the background and sometimes make them easier to decipher. The effect is artificial looking but sometimes helpful in an identification.

In the meantime, I'll see if I can find anything for you.

Bruce
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: brandm24 on April 19, 2020, 11:54:36 AM
Your research is great, Bruce. The watch paper was a discovery for me. I suppose watch cases were not yet dust-tight. I had a bit of a chuckle over the learned Latin motto PRO VIRENCE (for ruin), which is presumably the opposite of what the dear Mr. Richmond wanted to proclaim. Or maybe ANTI VIRENCE sounded too Russian-revolutionary :D

Peter
The watch paper is actually round but it turned into an oval when I resized it. :o You'll notice my use of the word "it" (it turned into an oval) instead of "I" (I turned it into an oval). Not my fault you know...darn resizing tool!

The American Antiquarian Society has a very nice collection of watch papers. Apparently, they're quite rare as one might suspect. I hadn't heard of them before either, until I was researching Richmond. As far as the Latin motto PRO VIRENCE goes. He was probably shown a proof by the printer, and not wanting to show his ignorance, said "sure, looks good."

Bruce
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: brandm24 on April 20, 2020, 12:11:50 PM
I've posted this before here: http://www.worldofcoins.eu/forum/index.php/topic,37689.msg238017.html#msg238017

I would be interested if the maker could be identified - letters AT with what appears to be a bee in the middle.
I did a bit of  looking around for your mark, mrbadexample. I focused on what appears to be a bee in the maker's mark and searched for the use of such a symbol among English...and some American...silversmiths, pewterers, and silverplaters

 In the course of my search I found that the bee motif was incorporated into the Manchester coat-of-arms in 1842. It symbolized the industriousness and hard work of Manchester's textile workers. The city was known for it's textile industry more than anything else. I've attached an image of the top of the coat-of-arms showing the bees.

 Unfortunately, I found no Manchester connection to the AT initials, but did come across a firm named AT & Co. They were silverplaters  but the exact name of the company wasn't known by the author. He thought perhaps they were located in either Sheffield or Birmingham. There was a small, indistinct photograph of their mark that I couldn't link to. I'm not so sure how closely it resembles yours. It looks similar but the picture is badly out of focus.

I think I may be able to identify AT & Co but have to look a little closer. I'll keep in touch.

Bruce
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: mrbadexample on April 20, 2020, 01:14:07 PM
I assume that's the small diamond-shaped stamp just below the loop on the pendant? If the piece is silver, I expect it's a silversmith or jeweler maker's hallmark...most likely a jeweler. I'm pretty sure it's English by the style. American makers often used pseudo-hallmarks to imply quality and imitate English craftsmanship, but I doubt this is one of them.

It would be good if you could get a sharper picture but it looks to be a difficult piece to photograph. You could try to scan it. Scans often raise the stamp designs above the background and sometimes make them easier to decipher. The effect is artificial looking but sometimes helpful in an identification.

In the meantime, I'll see if I can find anything for you.

Bruce

Thanks Bruce, I appreciate the help. I've tried a scanner, but to no avail. The mark is less than 2mm across - I can't do better than this picture with a USB microscope unfortunately.

It's a curious piece - I'd love to know more about it.
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: brandm24 on April 20, 2020, 05:49:15 PM
The picture is better but still hard to see the left side. Thanks for posting it. Just one quick question; are you sure the first letter is "A"? Very honestly, I just can't tell.

BTW, I did find out who AT & Co was. Ainsworth, Taylor & Co. were silverplaters in Birmingham from 1878 until 1906. I found some images of various marks they used and none really matched yours. I do have an image I'll attach of one that's a bit indistinct. I don't think it matches but I'd like for you to take a look.

Bruce
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: malj1 on April 21, 2020, 09:25:56 AM
I've edited the image a little.
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: Figleaf on April 21, 2020, 10:05:22 AM
The reason for using an I for a J and a V for a U are the same: the letters J and U are late comers in the latin letter set. The switch back in letters at later times is archaic. It sends a value of tradition, old-fashioned values or rejection of later values. The prime example is the Greek catholic church, which may still not use J and V and also still uses the Byzantine calendar and flag. In commercial use, the switch back may symbolise "old-fashioned quality", hand work or suchlike.

Peter
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: brandm24 on April 21, 2020, 11:59:30 AM
With the enhanced picture it does look more like an "A" With the left-tilting right leg of the letter it couldn't be anything else.

Bruce
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: mrbadexample on April 22, 2020, 01:17:49 AM
I've edited the image a little.

Thanks Mal.  :)

I can just about pick out the A with a loupe (although it's not easy) but getting a decent picture is nigh impossible with the kit I've got.
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: brandm24 on May 10, 2020, 08:19:04 PM
Phillip Apple / Philadelphia Coppersmith

Counterstamped coins by this issuer are extremely rare and one I always wanted for my collection. Fortunately, this example...the plate coin for both the Greg Brunk and Russ Rulau token references...was offered in a Steve Hayden Mail Bid sale in August, 2015. I was lucky to win it despite intense interest from other collectors.

Hayden noted in his listing that it was previously owned by at least four prominent American numistmasts, F.C.C. Boyd, John J. Ford, Q. David Bowers and Amon Carter Jr. 

(http://www.worldofcoins.eu/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=74.0;attach=98993)

There are only three examples of this issuer's stamps extant.  Two of this style with displayed eagle include the example on the 1818 Large Cent and a second struck on a “copper disc.” More likely the disc is a heavily worn copper coin. The third is struck on an 1810 large cent and is made up of two separate bar stamps captioned “P. Apple” and “Phila.”.

(http://www.worldofcoins.eu/forum/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=74.0;attach=98994)

Previous auction results for both varieties are listed at the end of this report.

While the few existing examples are well documented, the issuer not so much. Despite cataloger Russell Rulau's description of Phillip Apple as “one of America's best-known early coppersmiths” my own research couldn't confirm much of the scant history offered. However, some new material surfaced and is detailed in this report. Still, Apple apparently left a very small footprint and remains mostly a forgotten craftsman.

The dates generally offered for his participation in the Philadelphia copper trade were 1806 through 1839. He actually first appeared in city directories in 1805 listed as Phillip Apple & Co. Whether the “& Co.” indicates that he had a partner or not is unclear.  However, the 1839 date is accurate as it was the last time he appeared in city enumerations. The one year discrepancy in the date of his company's founding is of little importance but for the sake of accuracy.

After 1806 he was described as a coppersmith,  coppersmith / brazier or a copper and tin worker. Various addresses for his business were 112, 201, and 213 N. 2nd St., 130, 157, 185, and 216 N. 3rd St. and 116 High. (now Market St.). Although it was common for early 19th century merchants to move frequently, the number of times Apple relocated is unusual.

Conventional wisdom also states that Apple maintained a second shop in West Chester, Pa., at least in 1826. That assertion raised some skepticism for West Chester is nearly 40 miles from Philadelphia and would have made “commuting” a daunting task in those early times. Unfortunately, Philadelphia didn't publish a directory in 1826 so it was impossible to confirm his residency in Philadelphia that year. However, he was listed in subsequent years, at least through 1839.

 Because of this skepticism, a search was conducted for Apple's possible residence in West Chester or Chester County. The first bit of information was uncovered in the 1838 Chester County tax records. Though no record was found of Phillip, there was a William Apple listed. He owned what was described as a “lot” in the town but provided no further details.

 The name William Apple had surfaced earlier while searching Philadelphia census records. In 1821 he was a coppersmith working at 201 N. 2nd St., nearly next door to Phillip's shop at 130 N. 3rd. Interestingly, in 1822, he operated a dry goods store at the same address. William didn't appear in another directory until 1825 where he was described as a coppersmith once more, but now located at 178 N. 2nd. He disappeared from city census records after that.

Moving onto the US Federal Census listings starting in 1830, William did appear as a resident of West Chester. Unfortunately, early federal census rolls before 1850 provided only very basic information. They were essentially used as a method for counting residents and recording the number of people living in each household. These statistics were broken down into gender and age groups in both the female and male categories. Only the name of the head-of-household was revealed but nothing on occupation, age, marital status, or other personal data. That changed in 1850 when the enumerators questioned respondents more thoroughly.

The 1840 federal census also showed William at the same location but, surprisingly, included a notation that he was a coppersmith. That proved definitively that it was the same man who disappeared from Philadelphia records nearly fifteen years earlier.

William continued appearing in federal enumerations through 1870 and was always described as a coppersmith or tin worker. Apparently, he became quite wealthy as he had a maid residing in his home with him, his wife Mary, and a number of apprentices of both the copper and tin trades. More than likely they all worked for him. The value of his property was listed as $134,000 and personal wealth at $40,000, hefty numbers for the day. William passed away in May, 1872 at the age of 75 and was interred in Oaklands Cemetery.

Cemetery records yielded further information about William and his family. He was born on 17 December, 1796 to a Philadelphia cooper (cask and barrel maker) named Valentine Apple, another name that had surfaced during early city records searches. His mother's name was Elizabeth as was the name of his younger sister. Other sources suggest that he had sons, but their names or occupations weren't revealed. Apparently, William had an association with what was probably a local militia, these militias being common for the day.  He was often referred to as Captain William Apple but no details of his service were forthcoming.

Why spend so much time investigating William Apple? It was important to establish if he were the proprietor of the alleged “second” coppersmith shop in West Chester and not Phillip. It became obvious to me that he was when I found no historical references of any other Apple family member living there during the relevant time period.

Although no family connection between Philip and William was found, it's almost certain that they were related. Circumstantial evidence indicates that Phillip and Valentine were brothers which would make William his nephew. Related or not, it's clear that Philip Apple never had a second shop in West Chester as opined by earlier researchers.

While doing a federal records search for William, Phillip Apple surprisingly reappeared. Having thought that he passed away in 1839 or 1840 the truth of it said otherwise. The assumption that he had died was bolstered by the fact that he wasn't found in the 1840 federal enumerations despite an intense examination.
 

Though nothing at all was discovered about Phillip's life between 1840 and 1849, he resurfaced as a resident of Moultrie, Illinois in the 1850 federal census. He lived alone and worked as a coppersmith.

Earlier Philadelphia marriage records had revealed that he married a German immigrant named Elizabeth (or Elisabeth) Shively on April 19, 1804 at the Philadelphia Monthly Meeting and had at least five children with her. What became of her is unknown but she likely passed away about 1840 which may have prompted him to leave Philadelphia. However, Elizabeth never appeared in Philadelphia death records.

By 1860, Phillip, by then about 80 or 81 years old, still resided in Moultrie, but now in the household of a farmer named James Higland and his family. James' wife was named Eliza who was born in Pennsylvania the same year as his daughter Elizabeth. This was certainly the same person and would likely be the reason for his removal to Illinois. Nothing else was found regarding Philip Apple after the 1860 census record.

Additional Information

The same source that promoted the second shop theory also noted “Apple's signature appears on copper teakettles, copper mugs and other handmade products.” Despite an intense internet search no examples were ever found.

Two other minor details of Phillip's life revealed themselves in the later stages of this investigation. Very early United States Marine Corps muster rolls noted his enlistment in the service on January 11, 1822. Though of little detail, it noted his posting to Philadelphia, possibly at the naval shipyard there. A comment added to the record stated “Disabled on ….” but the rest was unreadable. It appears that he was discharged as physically unfit to serve.

The final bit of information came from official U.S. Patent Office records. He was awarded a patent for a “funnel for fluids” on July 13, 1808. Early patent records offer minimal details, as they had to be reconstructed after fire destroyed the originals in the 1840's. Nearly all note only the patent holder's name, a brief description of  his invention and the date. These reconstructed records are known as X-patents. Unfortunately, Apple's patent award falls into that category.

Past Offerings

Stephen K. Nagy, a Philadelphia coin dealer, offered the 1818 example in his fixed price list of 1948 / 1949. It was listed for $15 as Lot # 1168.

Stack's, Bowers (Coin Galleries) as Lot # 3187 in the November 15, 1989 sale of “Ancient and Modern Coins of the World and the United States”. Again, this was the 1818 specimen, at the time owned by Amon Carter Jr. It realized $462.

Presidential Coin & Antique Co. Sale # 76 “The Sarah Hinckley Collection of Hard Times Tokens” (November 11, 2006) Lot # 170. Also the 1818 example. It fetched $275.

The aforementioned Steve Hayden Mail Bid Sale of August 2, 2015. It sold for $775. This is also the 1818 specimen.

Paul J. Bosco Auctions / New York, NY. (April 1989) This was an auction for the “smooth disc” variety. No further details were available.

Presidential Coin & Antique Co. (Sale # 47) Lot # 114 (December 2, 1989). “George Hattie Collection of Civil War Die Types”
The offering was for the unique 1810 bar stamps strike. It's unclear if Hattie owned the coin or if it were consigned by another collector. It was sold for $825.

Presidential Coin & Antique Co. (Sale # 59) Lot # 135 (December 9, 1995) “Emerson Arends Collection of Gold Medals.” This offering of the 1810 bar stamps specimen fetched $400.

                                                                     B.R.& M.
                                                                     May, 2020
Bruce
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: brandm24 on May 12, 2020, 01:07:42 PM
I was always interested in studying die progression or die deterioration in an effort to identify earlier or later strikes and other interesting things that might come from them. This mostly applies to struck coins or tokens, but my interest lies mostly with counterstamps. Unfortunately, a large majority of these issues are either unique or populated only by a few examples.

The Phillip Apple stamp posted above is extremely interesting. I never noticed the extreme deterioration evident on the punch until about a year ago, although I've owned the coin for about five years. While no "study" can be done for lack of examples to compare, it did raise a question about the age of this eagle stamp as opposed to the bar stamps issue from the same maker. Although the bar stamps are only known on one coin, my thought was that maybe Apple, realizing that his big punch was near failure, cut the two smaller ones to replace it with.

While both are very old, I think the eagle stamp came first and probably survived only a short time. The bar stamps on the 1810 large cent may have been a test piece and the reason for it's uniqueness. It's just a shame I could never find images of Apple's signature on any of his work.

As you can see by the scope images, the damage on the eagle stamp is extreme and was likely close to failure.

The underside of the eagle's left wing and most of the right wing are missing or are so corroded as to only a raise a faint image when struck. Heavy die cracks are evident above and below "P. Apple" and below "PHILa"  The entire punch has numerous areas of deterioration. The stop after "P" is grotesquely large and looks more like a cud than a period. I believe some of the lack of detail can be attributed to poor die cutting, but believe the majority is caused by die failure. What ever the cause, it makes for an interesting study.

As added interest,the scope image also reveals some of the host coin's badly worn design. A partial of the word "Liberty" on the headband shows as "(LI)BER(TY) and is shown under the crook of the eagle's right wing. Three digits of the date "18(1)8" can be seen faintly to the left of the eagle's wing.

Bruce
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: Figleaf on May 12, 2020, 02:26:14 PM
I think the P. APPLE, the eagle and PHILa formed one punch in view of the seamless contour. Yet, the three parts were engraved separately: the whole is neither round nor oval. My guess is that by adding the lettering, the punch wore more quickly, because of the irregular form of the whole; pressure on the punch became even more unevenly distributed, causing die cracks.

Your latest illustration makes clear that there is another counterstamp, upside down along the eagle's hind parts. It is a banner with BERT. So there. One more mystery.

Peter
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: brandm24 on May 12, 2020, 04:06:07 PM
The size of the punch definitely was one reason for it failing. That, and the fact that die steel available at the time was soft and of inferior quality. The softness is highlighted by the finished look of the strike. One diagnostic to look for when authenticating  supposedly older counterstamps is that very look. The edges of the strike should appear rounded and indistinct as should the valleys of the letters and other devices. Modern punches imprint a sharp, crisp image while old ones don't.

 A large punch like that always presents unique challenges because it suffers more under repeated hammer blows. The small bar stamps by nature are more resilient and fare better under pressure.

The "BERT" isn't a second counterstamp, but part of the coin's original devices. It's what's left of the word "Liberty" on the portrait's headband.

Bruce
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: Figleaf on May 12, 2020, 04:27:04 PM
the fact that die steel available at the time was soft and of inferior quality.

That is a bit of an iffy proposition. I have a source proving that hardening dies was a known technology in Birmingham around 1830. At that time, Birmingham was at the edge of metallurgical and minting technology, but any workman who'd seen tempering (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardening_(metallurgy)) could repeat the process and I am sure there was migration from Birmingham to the Americas. Keep in mind that while the host is dated 1818, it is quite worn. Still, you could argue that the technology hadn't come to Philadelphia yet.

Peter
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: brandm24 on May 12, 2020, 07:49:51 PM
The technology here was probably significantly behind that known in the UK at the time. I don't know who made Apple's punches. He may not have had the skill to do such as he was into copper and tinware only. No harder metal experience that I know of.

The style of his counterstamps are quite old and couldn't have been applied after 1839 when he left Philadelphia. More likely they date to the 1820's, at least the eagle stamp (the bar stamps may be later) I call that style of eagle the "skinny, frightened' variety.  ;D They generally appear on early American issues.

Bruce
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: brandm24 on May 17, 2020, 12:23:43 AM
Throughout the early years of  the  American silver trade some smiths applied hallmarks to their products along with their names or initials to identify their wares. The hallmarks are actually known as pseudo-hallmarks as they're meant only to imply quality in craftsmanship. British craftsmen were the masters of the trade at the time and were revered the world over for their high standards of workmanship and quality. Pseudo-hallmarks were an attempt by American silversmiths to claim the same standards, whether deserved or not.

While the US didn't regulate silversmiths, tool makers, cutlers or others in this way, the British had a system of regulation in place dating back to medieval times. You could call it a form of "consumer protection" that guaranteed standards of quality and craftsmanship.

 The first illustration highlights hallmarks used by London Gold and silversmith Paul Storr (1792-1838). The first mark identifies the maker (Storr in this case). The second (a lion passant) is a mark of purity. The third is the symbol of the assay office that regulated this particular craftsman. The example of the crowned leopard is that of the London office. The letter "O" tells the year of manufacture (1809) and the final hallmark shows a bust of King George III and is what's known as a  duty mark (taxes, you know).

In any case, American silversmiths who used pseudo-hallmarks were unregulated. They could use what they wanted. I couldn't trace the marks on his coin to any particular craftsman, but some are similar to those used by Dickson & Co. of Philadelphia. The portrait is likely George Washington and the American eagle replaces the British lion, of course.

The attached advertisement is one of silversmith retailer Bailey & Co. and references both British and American wares.

Bruce
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: Figleaf on May 17, 2020, 10:13:42 AM
It may of course have been different in Britain and the US, but in France and the Netherlands, hallmarks were not guarantees of the work, but check marks for the quality of the metal, signs of distrust. The smiths' honesty was not taken for granted, so the government's assay office marks guaranteed the silver of gold content of the object. Typically, one of the (usually three) marks would indicate or symbolise metal content.

Peter
Title: Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
Post by: brandm24 on May 17, 2020, 11:39:34 AM
Yes, my statement " guaranteed standards of quality and workmanship" isn't exactly correct. It confirmed the purity of the metal, not the quality of workmanship. On the other hand, with the King hanging around and a crowned leopard glaring at you, it would certainly spur the silversmith on to do his best work. ;D

Bruce