Friday, May 21, 2010

The Week in Review

    This week I have had off from work. Because of that, it appears that I have been off from writing. This past weekend was not a great silver hunting weekend anyway. We have been having a lot of storms so there are fewer sales to attend. Saturday I went to Purcell Oklahoma. This small downtown has about 6 antique shops, some of them quite pleasant some of them dubious. The problem is that Purcell is so close to where I live that I have been there dozens of times and the stock is not fresh or exciting to me. Still, compared to Guthrie which is supposed to be the best antiquing in Oklahoma Purcell is awesome.
   Monday I had to go to Oklahoma City for some business and went to a couple of shops that I had not visited before. One had never been open when I was in the city and it had a very nice selection of silver. What was strange was that in the two shops that I visited I saw three plateaus. They were not the grand plateaus of a manor house but small affairs that were perhaps a foot in diameter. They all ran about $ 150, two were in fair condition and one in good condition.  I did not pick them up but it struck me how sometimes I notice things in groups. I imagine it has something to do with selective attention. I should reread Kurt Koffka's principals on Gestalt theory.

     I did however find a couple of interesting things. One is a sterling spoon set marked Kitty. The second is a brides basket I picked up. I hope to give both the recent cake/brides/fruit baskets a good write up. The one I found on Monday was on a bottom shelf, covered in stuff in a booth that was having a 40% off sale. So I made out like a fat rat on this one.  It has some plate loss but it was still worth the pittance I paid.

     The only other thing of note this week was that a few select pieces of the collection went to be displayed for a drawing class at a local art center. They were borrowed for the purpose of creating still life scenes.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sterling Marked Macie


My skills at photography are pretty poor and I lack the ability and camera at this moment to show great detail. This is one of the reasons why there are not better pictures of the gobs of flatware that I bring in and process. I just cannot get close enough to really show the extraordinary detail of some of them. This piece is one of those times where the camera has utterly failed to capture its beauty. 

I was talking to one of my favourite dealers at the local flea market, she usually has silver on hand and knows a bit about it. I had poked around on her table and there was nothing of real interest and on a whim I asked her if she had anything else. She reached in a box and pulled out this little thing. Its about the size of the palm of my hand, about half a dollars length. It was clear that it was sterling (from the mark on the back) and was stamped MACIE. The best part was that you could tell that it had been hand hammered. the hammer strikes are all over the piece but not purposely.  This is a piece you can tell that has been made by someone still learning the craft but getting better and better at it.

Every other little dip on the rim has a hand chased figure in remarkable detail. There are some worms with leaves, a small bird like a sparrow, a flower, a butterfly, some grapes, and a larger bird like a duck. Around the rim on the underside there is geometric chasing. The style looked Mexican thought there are no marks to that effect. The best I could track down was a really shaky report of a Macie silversmith in Mexico but with some pieces it may take years to know or you may never. Unfortunately this picture can not really do this piece justice. I got it for a song, and it is small but it already has a nice place in the display cabinet. Unlike a lot of my silver that is an industrial product and is beautiful for being a beautiful industrial product. This is a beautiful piece of silver made by someone moving towards mastery of an ancient craft.

Sterling Compote For the Melt


In Shawnee Oklahoma this weekend I also picked up this weighted sterling compote.  It is marked P.S.C.O. 151 Sterling weighted. As you can see in the picture the middle has some sort of blunt force trauma that occurred to it. This makes it useless as an object of beauty unless crumpled metal is your thing. The great part? It was a dollar. It will go into my box of trashed sterling that is waiting for the melt. My other thought was the I could cut a sheet from it and try my own hand at hammering a small object from it. A thimble perhaps? Or a smaller bowl? At any rate, for a dollar you can't beat that with a stick.

Leaf Dish from Wilcox Silver Plate

I also picked up this leaf dish this weekend. There is a seller at the local flea that bought out another seller and the organizer of the flea. He bought so much stuff and so much of it has been in storage for sometimes over twenty years that in order to sell it he pulls out boxes and anything in them gets sold for a dollar.

I am guessing that they go through the boxes very quickly before they get sent to the flea but I don't think that I can describe the condition of most of the stuff. Some of it has had rain on and animals living amongst it for twenty years. So you have to do some digging. Usually there is nothing. The last things I bought off of him were a creamer/sugar (late 1930's) both for a dollar after bargaining and a ten pound box of silverplate flatware for seven dollars.

The chap who works the booth is an employee of the chap that owns the goods and I am a good customer of the chap that owns the goods antique stores and know his daughter. In fact before I knew him I was the first customer in his new antique store the day it opened one town over. Plus as it turns out I also know his sister. But back to the dollar booth. 

I dug around a bit and out pops this (which was crustier at the time) so I paid a dollar for it. It appears that someone had been using it as an ash receiver. I am not in particular love with the piece but it is marked as Wilcox Silver Plate and I have a soft spot for that maker.  It is Wilcox after the formation of the International Silver Co. I know that because it is also marked International Silver Co.

It should polish up nicely and perhaps I will use it for something outside the kitchen. It is a weird shape for table service and I have plenty of pieces for that. Today I was reading about pin receivers and shirt button receivers so it may go towards that purpose. I had not done much reading on "silver novelties" or dressing table silver until recently and a couple of weeks ago I passed up a hair receiver that I am sort of kicking myself for not picking up when I had the chance. But there is always another time.

Star Pattern Juelep Strainers from 1890

Did I mention I was not done showing you all the wonderful things from this weekend? No? Well how remiss of me. These are two julep strainers I picked up in a pile that included a First Colony (1975) pie server, a Meadowbrook plate and some sort of stainless steel knife that I have now consigned to the garage. (sometimes in silver lots you get stainless I have a bag in the garage that I will eventually take to the thrift shop) 

These two beauties are what I really wanted. Though I do have a box of Meadowbrook (1936, Wm A Rogers A1 Plus) that is second only to my Queen Bess surplus. Simply because of the mass of it is the plate of any interest unless I could find a rich collector of Meadowbrook that wanted to take all of it off my hands. What I really wanted were the julep strainers. They are pretty rare as far as serving pieces go and there they were in perfect condition. The cap would only sell as a lot, he would not sell separately. This is unusual because I always try to bargain cheap by buying the lot and most sellers want to sell by the piece. This chap would not sell by the piece but I bargained with him until I got the whole lot for less than I was willing to buy the pieces for, so in a way it was win win for me as I paid less than what I had offered for the piece for the lot. 

Still, these are wonderful pieces and I was happy to slip them into my hunting bag and move on before the seller figured out that he had just underbid himself. This is the Star pattern made by 1847 Rogers Bros. They were only made in the Julep Strainer so if you have this pattern you have a julep strainer or something made by someone else. The date for the Star pattern is 1890. They are great little pieces and unfortunately for them I drink precious few juleps. I have julep cups and plenty of mint but it just does not seem to come up that often.  

Monday, May 10, 2010

El Unico Orange Knife

This advertisement from The Century magazine from 1894 shows another Victorian way of dealing with the orange.  The knife is steel and is silver plated. The handle is sold in ivory, pearl, celluloid, sterling and silverplate. It "has a fine saw edge" and can "cut orange and grapefruit smoothly without releasing any bitter oils from the skin".

Other than this advertisement I have never heard of El Unico of St. Augustine Florida. Rainwater nor any other of my references mention this maker. It is possible that they are a reseller. However, te blade is stamped with their mark. To be honest again if someone brought me this knife I would probably confuse it with a cheese knife which it closely resembles. 

Holmes & Edwards Silver Company Advertisement for the Waldorf Pattern

This is a advertisement for the Holmes & Edwards Silver Co. Waldorf pattern. It appears in The Century in 1894. It is an Easter advertisement urging surprise on the morning of  or surprising that "particular friend".  One of course wonders what that is a euphemism for. 

J.H. Johnston & Co. Advertisement 1894

This is an advertisement for the J.H. Johnston & Company for a variety of silver novelties.  They have their offices in Union Square New York and show a wide variety of silver goods. This advertisement appears in The Century magazine in 1894.  My favourite piece here is the "Cleopatra" pen rest in the shape of a snake and I am guessing an asp. The advertisement also features an ink eraser.

Spaulding & Company Sterling Silverware Advertisement

This is an advertisement in The Century magazine from 1894 from Spaulding & Company Inc. for their sterling flatware. They claim addresses in Paris and Chicago.

Simpson, Hall, Miller & Company Almond Bowl 1894

This is an advertisement for an almond bowl from Simpson, Hall, Miller & Co. This advertisement appears in The Century magazine in 1894. What is interesting here besides this unusual Victorian piece of silverplate is the advertisement mentions the unnecessary nature of luxury goods.

It claims that fine china and silver make life better by their aesthetic qualities "Life Brightening". It also instructs the reader in the use of the almond bowl where the almonds are placed in the middle nut bowl and then distributed into the cups on the edge for the individual. To be honest, if I came across this piece for sale I would have had no idea what it was originally used for.

Unusual Shaving Stand from Pairpoint Manufacturing Company 1896

This is another unusual piece of silver from the Pairpoint Manufacturing Company. This advertisement that appears in Public Opinion in 1896 shows a combination shaving set. There are trays for brush, soap, powder, matches, and a water bowl that is heated by either a candle or oil lamp. (It is hard to tell though I would guess lamp oil)  It claims to make boiling water in two minutes and end the problem of cold water shaving. We have to remember that during this period water fromt eh tap was still a very rare thing, and hot water even rarer.

Orange Holder Advertisement from Pairpoint Manufacturing Co. 1894

This is an advertisement for a rather rare piece of silver the orange holder. This advertisement appears in Munsey's Magazine in 1894 and was bought by the Pairpoint Manufacturing Corporation. These pieces would later be called orange bowls. They sought to help the stodgy Victorians figure out the "proper" way to eat the newly widely available oranges.

Pairpoint Mfg. Co. Advertisement 1896

This is an advertisement form the Pairpoint Manufacturing Co. that appears in Century magazine in 1896. It highlights a child's bowl and plate. It also mentions orange bowls, tea sets, tureens and bakers.

Daniel Low Salem Massachusetts.

This is an advertisement for Daniel Low silversmith in Salem Massachusetts. It appeared in The Century magazine in 1894 and features the Salem pattern.  I like the description of "florid European patterns"

Sunday, May 9, 2010

From This Saturday in Shawnee Oklahoma Pairpoint Mfg. Co. Spooner

This little beauty was also found in Shawnee. Once again on a back shelf hidden from view. The owner of the shop Jackie, was a little upset because he had meant to purchase this piece but had forgotten about it. He collects Art Nouveau silver and been at the auction where this was originally sold. He had gotten distracted at the auction and missed the piece and then had forgotten about it in his own shop. 

To his credit he had just opened his shop three months ago and had been particularly busy getting it up and running. We talked a bit about the trade and I picked his brain for advise about running an antique shop. His shop was on the higher end of the scale. He kept referring to it as a gallery, rather than a shop.  In fact I thought to suggest better signage because we almost did not go in because we were unsure what it was. 

Still it was quite pleasant. Much better than the antique shop that has two things from the fifties and a bunch of feathered pens and crap from Two's company. These shops are the worst. They are like some sort of sick Hallmark store and because I go to a lot of shops in rural areas, they have a very strange idea about marketing to middle class white women. I mean these are hard to describe, it is as if the decorator section of Hobby Lobby has vomited into a small town. 

But I digress. The shop owner Jackie pointed out to me that this was a spooner and I agree.  Had he known that I was a writer for the leading silver blog I am sure he would have asked me what I thought but we can't be famous everywhere. In honesty this piece has spent some time as a "penner". When I gave it its inital wash, a good step before polishing, the water from the inside ran out blue. Seems there was a whole splotch of dried ink on the bottom of the inside. When I first checked it I knew there was some muck in there but did not realize what it was. So it spent last night filled with water on the counter soaking. 

The piece itself is in good condition. It was made by Pairpoint Manufacturing Company of New Bedford Massachusetts.  This company was founded in 1880 as the Pairpoint Mfg. Co. and named after Thomas J. Pairpoint a founder that left the Meriden Britannia Company. Mr. Pairpoint is noted for his ideas about silver as a form of art and for the introduction of intricate design into the manufacturing process. I think if we compare Victorian silver with earlier pieces we can see some of his influence. Renaissance silver is very figural and decorative. Colonial silver is very plain. Victorian silver begins by copying the intricacies of the Renaissance. Thomas Pairpoint was partially responsible for this. 

The Pairpoint Mfg. Co. became the Pairpoint Corporation in 1900 due to financial difficulties. Prior to this Pairpoint had acquired the Mt. Washington Glass Corporation in 1894. they continued as a dual company making glass and silver until the depression on 1929 forced them to shut down silver production. The Niagara Silver Co.  purchased the flatware lines in 1900. Some patterns for holloware were purchased by the Rockford Silver Plate Co.

I really like everything I have see from Pairpoint. While quite a few of my colleges feel that Meriden Britannia Co. is one of the top corporations for silver plate, and I agree that they created work, I think Pairpoint often exceeds them in terms of design. Now I am known in the industry for liking smaller makers and smaller pieces, but I think there are a number of collectors that would agree with me on this point. Pairpoint on the whole had beautiful designs. I would have to say that they are in my top five manufacturers.

Found in Shawnee Oklahoma Meriden Pitcher

Last weekend was sort of a bust for silver hunting. I can't really recall finding anything really good. This weekend was sooooo mush better. It comes and goes like that. I think the main thing is persistence.  I mean I could find things every weekend if I just went up to the shops in the city and bought something I liked. But finding pieces, quality pieces, that I like at my budget is a bit of hard work. I mean to say it is hard work I enjoy. 

This piece is a great example. It was on a shelf, in a store in Shawnee Oklahoma. Behind a bunch of other stuff, low in the dark, so easy to miss. I was looking at a Greek revival (no maker) baby cup that was priced for a dollar and low and behold at the back was this little gem. It is from the Meriden Britannia Company. I have seen this in a catalogue but my quick searches this morning did not turn up the right one. I think it will polish up nicely. The faces vary all around the base. I think if I get some time I may provide the panoramic view this is such a nice little piece.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Dragon Pitcher, Simpson Hall and Miller, Pride of the Collection

This silverplate pitcher is part of the pride of the collection. It has an inside spout shield, incised decorations and the figure of a dragon on top. The dragon is not quite the Welsh dragon but is close enough as far as Victorian silverplate goes for my taste. If it is not a dragon it might be described as a sphinx though it is defiantly not an Egyptian sphinx.  Its tail is a swirly scaled affair almost like a sea monster but there is no other sign of sea life on the pitcher so I think this can be dismissed. The scroll work on the side and the shape of the handle add a Persian influence, perhaps Assyrian. Look at the handle, the scroll work, shape and proportion recall the ancient world.  I have not yet found this piece in a catalogue but I hope to soon.  

It is from Simpson, Hall and Miller, also known as Simpson, Hall, Miller & Co.  from Wallingford Connecticut. They were founded in 1866.  By 1895 they were manufacturing sterling. They also had the contract to manufacture the Eagle Wm rogers Star Brand flatware. In 1898 they were a founding member of the International Silver Company. When they joined international, they focused mainly on sterling becoming the center of the International Silver Companies sterling production. This means their mark was used well beyond 1898 for sterling ware. Silver plate was left to to other companies, Derby, Wilcox, Meriden Britannia Company.

Above we see some of the marks used by Simpson, Hall, Miller and Co. This is not exhaustive of the marks that they used. The pitcher uses a mark of the name Simpson, Hall, Miller and Co. above a rectangle that reads quadruple plate with Wallingford Connecticut below. Another common mark are the initials seen above S H M &Co. and for sterling the S in a shield with a helmet.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mustard or Jam Pot

I picked up this little mustard or jam pot a couple of weeks ago. No
makers mark but the glass and swag on the sides really called to me.
Plus it fills a gap in the serving ware. A nice piece is a nice piece
no matter who made it. I do not think that it is particularly old, but
unlike many modern pieces, this has a quality lid and good welds. Plus
I can jazz it up by using a really pretty and detailed spoon.

Star Rogers & Bros. New Century Pattern

This is another piece that I acquired this weekend. It is New Century
by star Rogers & Brothers. This pattern is from 1898. The flatware
from the turn of the century is awesome in its weight, plate and
craftsmanship. After World War One you can see and feel a real
difference in the way the objects are made. This does not make them
lesser objects, it simply makes them different. Styles of taste had
changed and I suspect cost of materials rose. This piece has classic
swirls and design. Though it does have more blank space than other
earlier patterns. I guess it is a harbinger of the new century that
was arriving.
The nice card is how I store flatware after it is identified. The
piece is placed in an airtight bag with a card with the pattern name,
year, maker, and sometimes who bought out that maker. The bag helps
prevent tarnish. The card helps to keep the flatware organized and
prevents having to look things up again and again. This card was made
by my partner. She has much better handwriting than mine.

Reed & Barton Cashmere 1889

Sometimes I get a piece of silver and put it to use. This happens most
often to serving-ware. Yesterday I was making a pizza for dinner and
grabbed a ladle to scoop and spread some tomato sauce. The ladle was
marked Reed & Barton but I did not recognize the pattern. Turns out it
is Cashmere from 1889. What a great way to spread pizza sauce.

Mysterious Spoons

I picked up these spoons this weekend as well. I liked the shields and
the mark was one I did not recognize. I figured they were turn of the
century and the maker would be in one of my reference books at home.
Turns out I was wrong. The backstamp is a diamond followed by a dash
then Diamond Edge dash T.P.

In silver I have had learn to live with mystery. Perhaps at some time I
will find some information on this backstamp. But for now I have two
pretty mystery spoons.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Victorian Silverplate Flatware: Roman Pattern

This weekend I stopped by a garage sale while looking for another
sale. I picked up a large bag of flatware at .50 cents a piece. I
got to hand pick the pieces out of a suitcase full of patterns and
walked away with a bag of Victorian silverware.

Below are two pieces in the Roman pattern. The fork is from this
weekend the butter knife from an earlier haul. This pattern is from 1865.
Pieces can be marked Rogers & Brothers, Anchor Rogers, Derby Silver Plate, 1847 Rogers
and Rogers Smith & Co.

Goblet of Flowers

This weekend I also went to El Reno to the hamburger day celebration.
It was awesome. On the way home I stopped in Bethany Oklahoma and
found this goblet for under five dollars. It is in bad shape but I
think it will polish up nicely. The makers mark is long gone. Turning
it over reveals a hole where it used to be. This might account for how
inexpensive it was. I may never know unless I stumble across it in an
old catalogue. Still, most of the time its the beauty of the piece not
its value because of a particular maker. This is a nice little cup.