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Set of Four Coin Silver Demitasse Spoons Marked OLSON? Help

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Silver2399 of 3092Old Candelabra?  Help NeededSilverplate Strainer Spoon w/a Large Bowl & an Acorn Cut in Handle~Use?
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    Posted 10 years ago

    (807 items)

    This is a mystery I cannot ID the maker. I am not sure these are American coin silver spoons, as they were advertised. They are small... perhaps Demitasse Spoons. They are clearly handmade as the differ slightly. The engraving/monogram on the top of the spoons was hard to capture. It says


    The only marking looks like "OLSON" with a backwards S. Perhaps I am reading it upside down?

    I included the hallmarks on two different spoons for inspection. Thanks!!!

    Unsolved Mystery

    Help us close this case. Add your knowledge below.

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    1. BHock45 BHock45, 10 years ago
      OK....I did it anyway, here is the mystery!
    2. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Love these!! Are all of them marked with the same pin-pricked design on the front? Will have to think about this one some! Very interesting! : )
    3. BHock45 BHock45, 10 years ago
      thanks for the loves: vetraio50, antiquefreak66, mikkochristmas11, and mustangtony!!!
    4. BHock45 BHock45, 10 years ago
      mikkochristmas11...yes they all have the same pin-pricked design...looks like a marriage or anniversary? There are two people initials on there.
    5. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Hi, BHock45! I'm keen to start on these, but can't quite yet. Thanks so much for the extra detail! Yes, that's an excellent inference, I think. Dates probably mark the date of one of the following: birth/christening, marriage, major life event, commendations, death. Yes, spoons were sometimes given out in remembrance of the deceased, but I don't know exactly when that custom commenced or ceased, exactly what information was engraved upon them in America, and I don't know how old these spoons are. I'm excited about these spoons, and can't wait to work on them. Much going on here!, so I am very slow. May I ask, did you ask the Seller why she/he thought these American colonial? The name mark is certainly unique! That will surely help. Now, about the description ‘coffin end spoons’, I may be wrong in this, but I always thought that the term 'coffin end spoon' referred to those that have terminals like those in the sixth photo featured in the article linked (first) below. You have acquired so much knowledge, however, that I find myself learning much from you these days, so I shall be very happy if I am wrong and you were correct. : )

      I found two fascinating articles that might interest you, though they won’t help ID this spoon.
    6. BHock45 BHock45, 10 years ago
      mikochristmas11...thanks for getting back to me. The seller did not claim they were American. He/she had no info. about the spoons, most likely inherited them or got them for cheap and tried to make a few dollars by flipping them.

      I agree "coffin handled" spoons are those which the handles are shaped like a coffin.
      "The third spoon has the “coffin-lid” handle, thought to have been given to relatives and friends of the deceased instead of the usual mourning ring, but probably so named because of the shape. The fourth spoon, made in the last decade of the 18th Century is by Thomas Revere, brother of Paul. The fifth, with shell-shaped bowl, is one of the novelty spoons designed for sugar and from the shape of its handle might date anywhere between 1840 and 1850. The doll’s spoon at the top was also made about 1850."

      Back to my spoons pictured above. I have a feeling these are either: 1) older than think (the monograms could have been added at a later date), or 2) even more likely, these were made by a "less skilled" silversmith. I say so because when I study these under magnification it is clean they are not exactly the same in size, and there are many imperfections.
    7. BHock45 BHock45, 10 years ago
      However, your article says, "It was customary to give one or two silver spoons to a neighbor or relative who had nursed the deceased during their last days. These were referred to as “coffin spoons” and were then put to practical use by being hung on the post of a cradle for an infant to teeth on." Very interesting thanks for the links!
    8. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Hi, BHock45! Just tried to find this maker and could not. I didn't find him listed as an American silversmith, jeweler, or craftsman. I tried Rainwater 5th edition, and the online databases we always use. I recommend that you consult “Marks of American Silversmiths Revised: 1650-1900”, by Robert Alan Green (White Plains, NY: Murphy Printing Co., Inc., 1984). I don't have a copy of this reference work.

      I did find a John Osborn silversmith (Utica, NY) with a mark containing a reversed "S".

      (There are three other Osborn's in Rainwater's 5th edition: OSBORN AND COMPANY [Lancaster, PA] Frank N. Osborn [NYC, NY], Harvey Osborn Silver Co. [Newark], so you'll want to be careful when tracking John Osborn's apprentices.). I looked to see if Olson might have apprenticed for John Osborn, but I didn't find him listed there as an apprentice. If you don't find Olson in Green, I recommend that you try to find out who worked for John Osborn. It's quite a long shot, but....

      I don't think that are Swedish, Norwegian, or Finnish. I think that they are probably American.

      As for some spoons not matching exactly, hand-wrought spoons sometimes have discernible differences, even if they are made by the same craftsman and shop. This very anomaly announces that they were hand-wrought and not machine-made. They are to be cherished. A while back, one CW member stated that America no longer produced silver. I remembered reading that Newbury Crafter's (Old Newbury Crafters) does still make silver. I think most of it - perhaps all - is fashioned by hand. The last silver I saw by the NC silversmith house was sold by Cartier-Paris. NC/ONC has supplied other luxury goods firms with fine master works silver. They don't look like manufactured contemporary-issue Gorham pieces. They are quite distinct. I think that your spoons are wonderful!!! You are so fortunate to have them. Congratulations on another great find! Take care. Later! : )
    9. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      RE other imperfections: I'm not there to see the imperfections, but I do believe you, and do not mean to cast doubt upon your judgment, sir. : )
    10. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      How long are the handles, please? Vetraio, do you think that these are five o'clock (or 4 o'clock) teaspoons? I don't think that they're demitasse, BHock45, as the bowls are too big for that. My demitasse spoons are much smaller.
    11. BHock45 BHock45, 10 years ago
      Hi mikkochristmas11. thanks for the info. and thanks for taking the time to look! Strange how the silversmith Osborn has the reversed "S" also. Looks so similar to the hallmark here. I will have to consult the text you mentioned. Thanks! You are right, I do not thin the are demitasse spoons anymore. Thanks1

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