Last week I wrote:
Ray Williams supplied the above image at my request. Who can tell us what these marks mean, and their numismatic significance? For extra credit, what do they all have in common? More next week.
Pete Smith writes:
What are Ray Williams' mystery marks? They are silversmith marks.
What do they mean? They were used to mark the maker of silver items and to verify correct silver composition.
What do they have in common? They were all marked on silver items.
What is their numismatic significance? That part I haven't figured out.
John Burns wrote:
Mark me down as first ......even if I'm not.
Sorry, he was second. And I din't know what " DOHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!" means on his planet, but on the phone I got him to explain that he knew that these were silversmith marks.
A more cogent response came from Roger Siboni, who writes:
They are Silversmith Hallmarks. Each hallmark is from a smith who engraved Colonial coins.
Kay Olson Freeman provided the best answer yet. She writes:
They are all the names or marks of American silversmiths.
They all worked in "coin silver" before the American sterling silver standard was used.
Each silversmith made coins or tokens in addition to usual spoons, bowls etc.
What is shown in the photos should be called maker's marks (or pseudo-hallmarks) and not hallmarks, as America did not have a central hall where silversmiths took their work to be assayed for fineness - such as was done in England since the 14th Century.
I am making this pedantic point now in case anyone calls them "hallmarks."
Thanks! But the "what they have in common" was a bit of a trick question. I'll let Ray explain.
Ray Williams writes:
We all have some family traditions, and I'm sharing with you a tradition I started at Thanksgiving about a decade ago.
I actually use these spoons once a year, at my Thanksgiving table, and it is the price of the food for those present to listen to a little bit about of the history of these colonial silversmiths. All of them have a numismatic connection to our colonial times.
Ray provided these details:
Here's a list of the silversmiths:
1) William Coley. NY, NY.
2) Abel Buell. New Haven, CT.
3) Ephraim Brasher. NY, NY.
4) Theophilus Bradbury. Newburyport, MA.
5) James S. Mott. NY, NY.
6) Daniel Van Voorhis. NY, NY
Coley and Van Voorhis were involved in the VT Copper coinage in NYC.
Abel Buell did many things but I remember him for his connection to CT Coppers.
Brasher is legendary.
Brasher needs no introduction as he's famous for the doubloon.
James Mott is of the Mott family responsible for the Mott Token, which I personally think is a Hard Times Token (no proof)
Bradbury was an apprentice to Jacob Perkins in Boston. Perkins was responsible for some of the MA Copper dies and on either side of the "B" you can see the Native American with bow and the Eagle, both are depicted on the MA Cents and Half Cents. I have a couple Bradbury spoons. I also have a British spoon that has Geo III bust as part of the identifying marks. Also, I have a ladle that has a Queen Anne Shilling embedded in the bottom, the bowl was made most likely from a William III Crown and the handle is made from a twisted piece of baleen (from a whale)
What a great idea! Tableware can be used at dinner again and again. Sure, they could quality as museum pieces, but not much harm could come to them from use - that's what they were made for. So why not? What a great holiday tradition. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
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