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Silver Colored Flatware - Is it "Sterling" ? Where is it from (hallmarks shown) ?

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English Silver6 of 165Mystery Birmingham makers markRobert Hennell IV, London, sterling silver and cut glass cruet set, 1872.
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    Posted 6 months ago

    PileOfJunk
    (15 items)

    A silver colored piece of cutlery. Is it "sterling" or is it "silver plate" ?

    I think the "hallmarks" may make it English ? A capital "D", followed by an Sovereign King (?) looking DOWN inside of an "octagonal" box .
    Then there is what looks to be a capital "G" facing DOWN in an "octagonal" box followed by a Lion in an "octagonal" box (walking to the left).
    The makers name is very worn. looks like a worn blank space and then a "4-Leaf Clover" symbol (or rosette) or some kind of "AND" (&) symbol, followed by the word "DUNNING".
    Any ideas to it's country of origin, silver content and age ?

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    Comments

    1. dav2no1 dav2no1, 6 months ago
      I am not a silver expert. But I think you're on the right track. The D be dublin?

      http://www.silvercollection.it/englishsilvermarksXR2.html
    2. vetraio50 vetraio50, 6 months ago
      It will be London. If it's a C then 1798 and if G then 1802. The King's head will be George III. The D will before the Dunning firm.
    3. truthordare truthordare, 6 months ago
      The assay office mark is not there, so I would say silverplate, meant to fool the eye with the pseudo Sterling Hallmarks, a law was passed in Britain against this sort of approach.

      Was doing my own research about this in the last few days for a silver/sterling item I found. The shape of the applied marks are also significant, your piece here has the wrong shapes for the lion, and the king's head, and the letter is a capital G, in a crest shape not an octagon in 1821 for London..
    4. vetraio50 vetraio50, 6 months ago
      Unfortunately that which truthordare adds is not correct. The assay office mark for English sterling is the Lion mark you have there. Often the city Mark is missing on small pieces but in my experience that means London.
    5. truthordare truthordare, 6 months ago
      Well, I do happen to be accurate, Kevin, contrary to your opinion.

      The 'lion passant' is the British country hallmark for Sterling Silver grade, hallmarks are the accurate words to be used when it is sterling silver, marks are the accurate words for the other type of silver such as silverplate.

      The assay office hallmark, is the city were the item was processed and tested for silver content, that would be: London, Birmingham, Chester, Sheffield (yes, they also produced sterling silver with their own assay hallmark, the crown), etc.

      Here, my reasons were how the marks were used or not, the shape of the impressed marks, and the inconsistencies if the assay office was in London.

      "The assay office mark for English sterling is the Lion mark you have there."
      The London assay hallmark is the head of a leopard not a whole animal.

      The letter D is for the grade of silverplate that was used, the full name of the producer was already provided as Dunning, I believe the mark says EPNS (bow motif) DUNNING.
    6. vetraio50 vetraio50, 6 months ago
      It is clearly a piece of hallmarked English silver and not silver-plate as in the comment : "The assay office mark is not there, so I would say silverplate".

      The Lion passant guardant mark clearly is in pic 1 certifying the silver quality of 'Sterling'. The head of George III and the date letter for either either 1798 0r 1802.
      As regards the "shape of the applied marks are also significant" : these three marks all have a similar outline. The mark D has no outline and was added by someone outside the London Assay Office.
      As regards the comment "EPNS (bow motif) DUNNING." Unfortunately this is also incorrect and is in fact the mark of Curtis & Dunning of Woodbury, Conn. The firm's mark on another piece of flatware can be seen here : "https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/coin-silver-spoon-l-o-dunning-hotchkiss-schreuder"

      Yet another example here : https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/curtis-dunning-burlington-vt-coin-spoon-9

      Note the use of the D mark added to the English Birmingham mark too in the example.

      You can learn more about the firm of Curtis & Dunning here :
      https://www.jstor.org/stable/1594111
    7. vetraio50 vetraio50, 6 months ago
      More relevant information : http://freepages.rootsweb.com/~silversmiths/genealogy/makers/silversmiths/94555.htm
    8. vetraio50 vetraio50, 6 months ago
      The "D" may not be Dunning as I mentioned above. Perhaps it is D for Dollar ???

      Kovel's says : "The earliest silversmiths in the colonies used their initials. Many makers used their last name, or first initial and last name. Pseudo-hallmarks were used about 1800. They were meant to mislead the public into believing that the silver was of English origin. Many unmarked pieces of American silver were made by 1825. The pieces were later marked with the store name. By 1830 the words COIN, PURE COIN, DOLLAR, STANDARD, PREMIUM, or the letters “C” or “D” were placed on silver to indicate that it was 900 out of 1000 parts silver. The word STERLING was frequently used by 1860. STERLING means that 925 out of 1000 parts are silver. This is still the standard for sterling silver. "

      (https://www.kovels.com/marks-identification-guide/identification-help/silver-identification-guide.html)
    9. truthordare truthordare, 6 months ago
      You just answered my question about why an American silversmith would use English hallmarks.... I found it suspicious that all the pseudo marks were octagonal in shape.

      That put's the whole 'is it sterling silver grade or not' in doubt. As per your comment below:

      "It is clearly a piece of hallmarked English silver and not silver-plate as in the comment : "The assay office mark is not there, so I would say silverplate".
    10. vetraio50 vetraio50, 6 months ago
      I did didn’t I ???
    11. vetraio50 vetraio50, 6 months ago
      PILEOFJUNK you have a very nice example of a sterling silver spoon being marketed By an American firm in the 1830’s. It’s been a learning experience for me. Thanks for posting this interesting item.
    12. PileOfJunk PileOfJunk, 6 months ago
      vetraio50,
      I looked at the thumbnail pictures on the Worthpoint site. They wouldn't let me "blow them up" (I guess you have to be a member ?). So I did screen captures and pasted them into an MS Word document and enlarged it there (a little fuzzy).

      I do see the similarity in the "fonts" in the word "Dunning". The first 2 letters of the word in front of that DOES look like it could be an "I" and an "S" for "Curtis'. (and an "&" symbol).

      The second Worthpoint example of a spoon (next to a quarter) has different symbols (anchor, star, profile and a "D" on the outside).

      My mind is still all over the map. I do appreciate all of the input you guys have offered.
    13. vetraio50 vetraio50, 6 months ago
      Hi PILEOFJUNK. The first reference to DUNNING HOTCHKISS & SCHREUDER is one of the first hits I got when I searched for a spoon with the name Dunning which lead me to Curtis & Dunning of Woodbury Conn. It was the name which is important. Dunning was what you had and the earlier part obliterated it turns out. The second reference is to a "Nice early spoon with the mark of Curtis and Dunning of Burlington, Vermont Ca 1820's. Having several other hallmarks, C & D may have been the retailer. Monogrammed "MB". Slight wear to the tip but pretty nice condition." This is the important part in my argument. You have on this spoon the full mark of the firm and you will se that what is 'obliterated' on your spoon is 'CURTIS &".
      But it shows that your spoon was marketed by Curtis and Dunning. Their history is explained on the free-pages site above. It looks to me that they were watchmakers and sold clocks but also had an interested in selling silver items: "Advertised in the Northern Sentinel (Burlington VT), 6 Jan 1821, as CURTIS & DUNNING, offering a large assortment of silver items of the best silver and superior workmanship." ( Flynt, Henry and Fales, Martha Gandy, The Heritage Foundation Collection of Silver.)
      On the net we see a few examples of silver marked by them with the CURTIS & DUNNING impressed mark. The pieces do not seem to be made by them. Yours is an example of a sterling spoon made in England and marketed at some stage by CURTIS & DUNNING with their impressed mark and the D mark beneath the English hallmarks.
      There is also that other spoon in the second reference above but if you look at it it bears the CURTIS & DUNNING mark an anchor, a star like mark and a King's head and D. The anchor suggests Birmingham in England but the star like mark is confusing to me. (It might be an example of a "pseudo-mark"). The D will be for Dollar as Kovel's suggests.
      However your spoon is interesting as an example of an imported spoon bearing English hallmarks and an American firm with the D for Dollar.
      I agree it all looks confusing but I am only trying to make the point that it is Sterling. Electroplating of silver over alloys of nickel and copper did not come into practise until 1860.
      Curtis & Dunning folded when Dunning died in 1841, twenty years before the electroplating process began in Sheffield England.
      To me it an interesting spoon.
    14. vetraio50 vetraio50, 6 months ago
      Or is it a fork ???
    15. truthordare truthordare, 6 months ago
      Since we are changing the story again, the utensil being hallmarked in England, and retailed by Curtis & Dunning in USA, before 1840, the process of silver plating did exist, but was not the electroplating of nickel silver process, or EPNS.

      The wiki link history for Sheffield plate started in the mid 18th century into the 19th century as the article explains fully. Best way to resolve the issue is to have it tested. I think it is conjecture that it was sterling imported for retail, as Kovels pointed out, more likely to be plate locally produced.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheffield_plate
    16. vetraio50 vetraio50, 6 months ago
      The Contrarian is getting there, finally. I am sure PILEOFJUNK will be able to look for signs of wear on the item to see if it is a piece of Sheffield Plate (copper beneath) and could even smell the item to see if it is nickel plated. Testing for silver would resolve the question finally . Thanks again for the post.
    17. IVAN49 IVAN49, 6 months ago
      Curtis & Dunning, American silversmiths Burlington, Vermont.
      British pseudo marks.
      They used various marks resembling British marks (e.g. an anchor for Birmingham, George III duty marks etc) as a commercial trick.
      Genuine British lion passant would mean sterling fineness (.925) but this spoon must be coin silver or even less; so for purely commercial reasons it was opportunistic to use British pseudo marks indicating sterling on silver of lower fineness.
    18. vetraio50 vetraio50, 6 months ago
      That is totally a possibility, IVAN.
    19. PileOfJunk PileOfJunk, 6 months ago
      TruthOrDare, I found a Men's Gold ID bracelet one time. I thought I hit the jackpot because it was marked "18kt" and it had a fancy double safety clasp. The place for the ID had a fancy swirl pattern. It was very dark and dirty. I cleaned it and it looked great. Then it started to darken again very quickly. It turns out to be "18kt" brass. So I guess people can cheat.
    20. PileOfJunk PileOfJunk, 6 months ago
      vetraio50,
      That's funny because I bought a Columbus spoon (had to be the World's Fair 1892-93) from an eBay seller in Calif. His pix showed the back of the spoon and it was marked US Silver Co. I sent an email asking if it was "sterling" and he said "Yes." When I got it you could see the golden colored metal peeking out from worn spots. It was a crappy, cheap silver plate spoon. So the seller lied to me. (It does have a different “feel” to it.)

      I just saw that on eBay with a spoon marked “sterling”. As I looked at the pictures I saw an “800” mark. I then read her description and she said this spoon is what they call “Argentine Sterling”. They sell it as “sterling” down Argentina.

    21. truthordare truthordare, 6 months ago
      As a contrarian, I may have different experience and point of view that some here on CW PileOfJunk, but that is really how a discussion should be handled.

      My favorite example of a fake silver mark, is a worn ring from China that I kept, with an impressed 925 on the inside band, right beside the copper base showing on the edges....lol.
    22. PileOfJunk PileOfJunk, 6 months ago
      vetraio50,
      As you stated:

      “The pieces do not seem to be made by them. Yours is an example of a sterling spoon made in England and marketed at some stage by CURTIS & DUNNING with their impressed mark and the D mark beneath the English hallmarks.”

      I have my Grandmother’s sugar spoon. It has a scallop shell bowl and it has a strawberry & leaves on the upper handle. On the back, it had words that were very worn. My mother said that when she was younger you could read it and it said “PURE GOLD”. As a kid I asked, “Why is it silver colored then ?” She said it was “white gold”. (It was very thin.) It always stayed “shiny” from constant use. You could still read the maker’s name “PATENT. Palmer.Batchelders & Co.”.

      I brought it into an antique store one time and the proprietor told me the worn mark of “PURE GOLD” actually said “PURE COIN”. Being young and inexperienced, I immediately thought he was trying to “rip-me-off”. As I did more research, I discovered he was right.

      Every time I looked up “Palmer.Batchelders & Co.”, the results were that it was a jeweler in Boston. When I questioned a seller on eBay one time, he said that “Durgin” was the maker of the spoon and that the “Palmer….” was just the retailer.

      I received many lessons from this spoon.
    23. vetraio50 vetraio50, 6 months ago
      Silver is a great collectible. There is much to learn. I’ve seen Argentine Silver here in Oz and always thought it to be a form of silver plated ware. Berry spoons were a thing in Victorian times and a lot of Georgian sterling was ruined by makers reworking the bowls with repoussé berry work. Your grandmother’s sugar spoon sounds like it was purpose created with that decoration on the handle. I think they were gold plated because gold is inert and does not interfere with the flavour of food or drink. The gold plating was just a coating but was marketed (and still is today) with statements like “Pure Gold“. Caveat Emptor. I always smell a silver item because I can easily identify the smell of the nickel below the silver plate. Silver has its own smell when but it is light in comparison.

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