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Rare Silver Pencil by Gabriel Riddle ~ Silversmith

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Silver1723 of 2310Flower HolderCoin silver spoons from family, Ebenezer Knowlton Lakeman
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Posted 5 years ago


(51 items)

A truely beautiful addition to my collection of Pre Victorian ~ Victorian Silver & Gold Writing Equipment: This is a Sterling Silver propelling pencil by Gabriel Riddle the sometime partner of Sampson Mordan Snr.

The pencil tests as 925 Silver but it bears no Hallmarks but is marked "PATENT ~ G.RIDDLE ~ MAKER ~ LONDON".
Length: Closed 85mm - Open 108mm. The letter 'M' on nozzle denotes the lead type required (Specification as laid down in the Patent of Sampson Mordan). See my post below for details of Patent/Leads:

The last photograph shows the "pepperpot" or "revolver" end to the lead refill storage area; revealed by unscrewing the finial cap. The finial often bears an inset, faceted jewel but in this case a silver "crown". The "pepperpot" storage compartments are invariably a sign of quality in these gold or silver pencils, and is always something to be "looked for". One of the "finer" presentations is a central tube surrounded "revolver style" with five further tubes or cylinders, for the lead storage. As you can see; this example has just three tubes or cylinders.

A further note on "quality": to the uninitiated, it may seem that "quality" is denoted by the presence of Hallmarks, however this is not true with the very high quality, prestigious makers, often their pieces had no Hallmarks at all, they preferring their name alone to guarantee the unquestionable quality, they did not present their work to be officially assayed, and consequently marked. (You will often find pieces by such makers as Riddle, Mordan and Butler etc. etc. to have only their name, "maker", "patentee", "Co" and perhaps their city marked).

Another reason for the absence of Hallmarks is the fact that these pencils are very small and delicate and could sometimes be damaged in the Hallmarking process, depending on the skill of the person wielding the hammer and punch! So you will also find lesser makes without makers name or personal marks AND without Hallmarks too!

To confuse things slightly more; sometimes you will also find precious metal pencils made by one of the premier makers with all their own personal company markings AND the assay Hallmarks too! That then is a bonus for the collector trying to date and identify.

You will also find gold items sometimes have even less markings than silver to assist. In the case of Sampson Mordan they would use 15ct gold and NOT mark their name / patentee/ company / city NOR have Hallmarks, but what they did show, was; what has come to be called the "Mordan Arrow", a small simple fletched arrow! And nothing else! (I will post an example of just such a pencil in the near future).

See my earlier post for a potted history of Mordan & Riddle:


  1. Hems303 Hems303, 5 years ago
    Heres the Mordan/Riddle history link to save cut'n'pasting:
  2. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 5 years ago
    Magnificent and splendid!
  3. Hems303 Hems303, 5 years ago
    Many thanks BELLIN68, yup...I'm thankful for all my blessings!
  4. Hems303 Hems303, 5 years ago
    Thanks miKKo!
  5. johncb1963, 5 years ago
    Hello,I was wondering if you could check out my post on American ebay antique forums and offer some info on a miniature sword I have marked"G.Riddle,london"? Not selling,just seeking input.
  6. Hems303 Hems303, 5 years ago
    Hi Johnny
    I see you joined Collectors Weekly just to ask this question? I eventually found my way onto the US eBay forum..a bit difficult if you are non US! Anyway I'm pleased to help a fellow CW Member for sure, but I'm not quite sure of the question: What do you want to know..about Gabriel Riddle?....

    Gabriel Riddle was a wealthy stationer who entered into business with the famous Silversmith Sampson Mordan (see my CW Posts elsewhere for indepth history). They entered their Registered Makers Mark on 30th April, 1824, so "SMGR" was born and they used premises at 22 Castle Street, City Road, London. England. Their partnership was dissolved on 20th December 1836. It is unknown why they parted company and went their separate ways.

    The important reference that is "Culme's London Directory" suggests that Gabriel Riddle was out of business by 1851. Riddle was a fine "Silversmith" and sold silver pens, pencils and all manner of other high quality novelty silverware. The fact that he was still in the "SMGR" partnership until 20th Dec 1836 and defunct by 1851; puts your sword (novelty letter opener) within this timeframe.

    Gabriel Riddle was a London "Maker" so your silver novelty letter opener should bear the London Assay mark of a "Leopards Head" along with the date letter. You do not actually say whether the sword has any Hallmarks, often they did not; just bearing a high quality "Makers Mark" or name.

    Hope this helps. Otherwise get back to me on one of my posts on Collectors Weekly. I'll also leave this reply on all CW posts where you have left a comment. Kind regards Hems
  7. johncb1963, 5 years ago
    Hello Hems,
    Thank you so much for responding,youve already cleared up one major question,wich was,what exactly is it?We thought it might have been a fancy toothpick on the ebay board,no one had ever seen anything like it.It doesnt have any hallmarks that I can find,just "G. Riddle,london" on the hasp and case,and Ive examined it under magnification very closely.Its just under 2 1/2 inches long,and it looks like there were some sort of straps(not sure of the proper term) that are long gone.I googled and looked at literally 1000s of pictures and hadnt seen one like it as of yet.
    Thank you so very much for your help,and as far as the other question,Im just not sure yet but you'll be the first to know! I would love for it to be as treasured in the future as I have.
  8. Hems303 Hems303, 5 years ago
    Hi Johncb1963, sorry but you didn't give the size and there was nothing in the photo to give the size comparison....however; at 2.5 inches long, I'm afraid it is NOT a letter opener for sure. It is obviously a purely decorative piece and a very nice piece too! It is a relatively "valuable" piece just because of who made it! You are a lucky guy!
  9. johncb1963, 5 years ago
    Thank you, Hems.I will keep you apprised if I decide to offer it.
  10. Hems303 Hems303, 4 years ago
    Here is a link to my CW Post dealing with Lead Refills for Antique propelling pencils, especially Mordan examples:
  11. vetraio50 vetraio50, 4 years ago
    Season's Greetings to you and Yours, Hems!
  12. Hems303 Hems303, 4 years ago
    vetraio50; many thanks, and Happy Christmas & Peaceful New Year you you and yours, and all CW members!
  13. lundy lundy, 4 years ago
    hi , that's super nice ,I have one on here I found at a yard sale for a buck
  14. Hems303 Hems303, 4 years ago
    Hi Lundy;
    If it is a Gabriel Riddle marked pencil then you are a lucky man! and if it is in good condition you will have increased your investment of a dollar perhaps a couple of hundred fold (in UK circles that know and appreciate these items!!) ENJOY!
  15. lundy lundy, 4 years ago
    did you see it I have it on here ty
  16. Hems303 Hems303, 4 years ago
    Lundy: no I didn't see it...what is it listed under?
  17. lundy lundy, 4 years ago
    its here on my posts
  18. Hems303 Hems303, 4 years ago
    Thx Lundy! :)

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