Author Topic: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen  (Read 1135 times)

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Offline brandm24

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Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
« Reply #15 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

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

Bruce
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Offline brandm24

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Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
« Reply #16 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
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Offline brandm24

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Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
« Reply #17 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
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
« Reply #18 on: April 06, 2020, 10:19:09 PM »
Not sure if this will help, but it will do no harm. According to this source, Levinah and William had 12 (!) children. Seven lived to "ripe" old age, including Lavinia and William Jr..

Just for the fun of it, here is the story of Humphrey Keyes, brother of Levinah.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline brandm24

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Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
« Reply #19 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
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Offline brandm24

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Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
« Reply #20 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

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Offline mrbadexample

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Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
« Reply #21 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.

Offline Figleaf

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Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
« Reply #22 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
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline brandm24

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Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
« Reply #23 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
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Offline brandm24

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Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
« Reply #24 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
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Offline brandm24

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Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
« Reply #25 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
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Offline mrbadexample

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Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
« Reply #26 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.

Offline brandm24

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Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
« Reply #27 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
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Offline malj1

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Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
« Reply #28 on: April 21, 2020, 09:25:56 AM »
I've edited the image a little.
Malcolm
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Offline Figleaf

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Re: Counterstamps of silversmiths and other fine craftsmen
« Reply #29 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
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.