This month I am pleased to celebrate a double anniversary,
the 7th year of activity of ASCAS and the 150th anniversary of
Robert Massart presents:
The Bigorne mark on French silver
L'argent massif en France et le poinçon de bigorne
.....In order to prevent and detect fraud of hallmarked
silver articles, French authorities instituted, by
Ordinance of 1st July 1818, a system of countermarks on
the opposite side of the guarantee mark. These
countermarks are known as "bigornes".
The term bigorne literally means two-horned anvil or
two-beaked anvil and refers to the shape of the
projecting ends of the anvil. Each anvil has two
striking areas, one flat and one of rounded shape. The
rounded horn served to mark hollowware and the flat horn
was used to mark flatware....
Welcome to new ASCAS members:
Andrea De Vita - Italy
Marco Di Bonaventura - Switzerland
Susan Brüll - Argentina
Laure Dorchy - Belgium
Emmett Eldred - USA
Mary Ann Fraser Sawant - USA
Edward Gryg - Australia
Carin Huizinga - Australia
Justin Jones - USA
Caroline Mergalet - France
Pierre Moullard - France
Delia Munoz - USA
Anita Payne - Australia
Lou-Ann Raimo - USA
Michel Sage - France
Bob Stewart - USA
Pete Summers - England UK
Life History of a Small Caster... or ... Just a
Once upon a time there was a little caster (10,5 cm, 65
g) made in 1718 by the London silversmith Charles Adam.
His silver purity was 958/1000, in Britannia standard,
which had to be used those times (1696 - 1720) to limit the
clipping and melting of sterling silver (925/1000) coinage.
The London Goldsmiths did not like this material. They thought
it was a disadvantage their competition with the Huguenot
immigrants, who were used to working with this softer material,
because the silver standard in France was 950/1000.....
Piero Eduardo writes:
... Dear George,
another lucky find! An old pipe Axfin (a mark completely unknown
to me!) with pure amber mouthpiece. I need your help to identify
the maker of the silver mount (mark WH WH, without frame,
Chester Assay Office 1912). This maker is not quoted in your
site and I think you can possibly add this mark as "unidentified".
Thank you in advance for your help.
I do not find any WH over WH mark entered in Chester Assay
Office. I believe that, in this case, we are in presence of a
double struck of the mark W.H. If this hypothesis is correct,
the maker would be William Harrison (many addresses in London)
who entered very similar marks in Chester between 1907 and 1912.
William Harrison is quoted as "silversmith" in Chester register,
but one of his marks was presented to registration by Imperial
Tobacco Co. The mark WH is illustrated in my web site at
A.de Jong writes:
... I have a silver item from the 18th century but I do not know
what the marks mean.
Would you be so kind to tell me the meaning of these hallmarks?
I hope you can help me
The mark is not 18th century, but Hanau (Germany) end 19th
century. The maker is, possibly, Wolf & Knell, founded 1887.
Philippe d'Arschot writes:
... I send you a question for the next newsletter:
I have found a very unusual silver object. Maybe it could be a
counter for an old card game, but I will be happy to have other
Dimensions: 9 x 6 cm
4 small feet on the reverse
All the small plates on the sides can be raised or lowered
Werner Lack writes:
... The shown mark is from former Tschechoslovakia, in use
since Jan. 1st 1929 - for silver content 800 (Tardy p. 399)
Adam Goldsmith writes:
... The triangular mark with the ‘5’ in it on John
Alexandro’s pyx and paten is the Czechoslovakian 800 purity mark
used between 1929 and 1940. Hope this helps.
David Nikogosyan writes:
... The image inside the triangle relates to the famous
cross of Slovakia (see for example Slovak eurocoins). Therefore,
my suggestion that these marks are related to the first Slovak
See attached is the scan of 2-euro Slovakian coin.
Karin Sixl-Daniell writes:
...the item originated in the Czechoslovakia as it bears the
Czechoslovakian hallmark denoting 800 fineness used from 1929
onwards (I am not sure how long this mark was used for, if I am
not wrong it was until 1942). Unfortunately, I am unable to shed
more light on the maker.
Maja Houtman and Janjaap Luijt write:
...John Alejandro asked about the mark with the hill, cross
and five in a triangle. It is struck in Czechoslovakia between 1
January 1929 and 30 January 1942. It stands for 800/1000 silver
Met vriendelijke groet,
Maja Houtman and Janjaap Luijt
Les Salvage writes:
... I contacted Birmingham Assay office about Piero
Eduardo's pipe and received this information today.
The 'LA' Sponsor Mark on the pipe belonged to Louis Adler, a
merchant from London, first registered the mark in 1897, the
mark on the pipe is from 1905'.
Chitra Balasubramaniam writes:
... I write about the object presented by Joy Aumiller - I
think is a surma dani - or Kohl liner. The black powder inside
it might by Kohl used to line the eyes with.
Luis Castelo Lopes writes:
Itar dhan (essential oil based perfumes) or Perfume holders are
also shaped like this. But if it has black powders it could be
surma dani (surma meaning kohl for the eyes) and dan or dani
meaning container. It is used extensively in the Middle East,
The little pointed stick is what the kohl is lined with. Kohl is
also made by traditional methods, at home in many parts.
... Your small bottle is a 'makhala' or a 'kohl' container,
and these were/are used by ladies to "paintquot; the make-up
around the eyes (or eyeliner), in a number of Arab countries.
Kohl is the black powder used as eye paint.
Maja Houtman writes:
I have found a similar piece in a market in Cairo this January.
They are made either of silver or plated metal. The models are
always very similar. As I can not see a clear enough photo of
the marks I can not help you with that. As for the date of the
piece, as far as I know the model has been the same for the last
200 years at least.
I hope this is of some help.
Luis Castelo Lopes
... Joy Aumiller has this bottle, I think it might be a
bottle for kohl, the black powder women (used to) put around
their eyes in Northern Africa and the Middle East. The design of
the finial and (maybe) Arabic letters on it make me think this
met vriendelijke groet,
Pierre Strobbe writes:
... The arms are those of the family Wostrowsky von Skalda
und Witzab. Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia:
Karin Sixl-Daniell writes:
"De gueules à deux poissons d'argent l'un sur l'autre .
cimier: un poisson d'argent en pal, la tête en bas".
(two silver fish on a red background)
This piece has a hallmark from Germany
... In response to David March's German beaker, here is some
information about the maker's mark:
it refers to Behnisch & Co, Berlin. I have no information on the
coat of arms as of yet.
In this column we present a page
obtained from makers' brochures, books, auction catalogs,
advertising or whatever other printed paper, related to silver,
that may be of interest for ASCAS members.
The images will be published at a "low resolution" level and for
private and personal use only
This month ASCAS presents an 1895 advertisement of
WHITING M'F'G CO
Broadway & 18th St.,
"A WORD per MONTH"
The "Hanoverian" is the most important British
flatware pattern in the 18th century. In this pattern
the stem widens gradually toward the curved terminal and
then turns upward.
This form was adopted because the spoon was lad on the
table in the French manner (the bottom of the bowl
"A SILVERSMITH per MONTH"
THOMAS BRADBURY & SONS LTD
The business traces its
origin to Fenton, Creswick & Co, a partnership involving
Matthew Fenton (an apprentice of Thomas Law), Richard
Creswick and William Watson. They were active as
silversmiths and Sheffield platers and were among the
first to enter their mark at the Sheffield Assay Office
In 1789 Fenton left the firm and was replaced by Edward
Oakes. The firm changed its style to Fenton, Creswick,
Oakes & Co. In 1795 the partnership was dissolved and
the business was continued under the style of Watson &
Co under the partnership of Thomas Watson, James Fenton
and Thomas Bradbury I (a former apprentice of the firm)....
"A BOOK ON MY SHELF"
In this column we present books, new
or ancient, dealing with silver in all its aspects (history,
marks, oddities...). This isn't a "book review" but only a fair
presentation of some useful "tools" that anyone may have in the
shelf of his bookcase.
ASCAS members are invited to contribute to this column
(click to enlarge images)
In the "book on my shelf" of this month Karin Sixl-Daniell
COLLECTING AMERICAN 19TH CENTURY SILVER
by Katharine Morrison McClinton
The field of American 19th century silver is
a veritable collectors' paradise: the supply is
plentiful and the variety extensive, from
elaborate tea and coffee services of many pieces
down to thimbles and book marks. there is
something for everyone, no matter what his taste
This book give the collectors a survey of the
century's varied styles which included:
Federal and Empire (1800-1840)
Renaissance Revival (1850-1870)
Art Nouveau (1895-1910)
The early pieces, like those of the preceding
century, were hand crafted and not as plentiful.
With the opening of American mines, the
development of machine techniques and invention
of electro-plating, production was greatly
increased and silver became such an important
item in 19th century life that the number of
articles manufactured far exceeded what is made
and used today.
"A CREST per MONTH"
In this column we present images and
descriptions of Crests and Mottoes of British, Irish and
Scottish families as engraved on silver items.
BODDINGTON, BODINGTON, CAHILL, SCRIMZEOR, SCRYMZEOR,
English, Irish (Cahill) and
Scottish (Scrimzeor, Scrymzeor, Wadderburn) families.
A lion’s paw grasping a scimitar
The crest was found on a sterling silver hip flask
hallmarked Sheffield 1898, maker (possibly) William
Fairbairns & Sons, 65 St. Mary Axe, London
Closing our April 2011 edition of ASCAS
Newsletter I hope you have appreciated its content.
Your comments, suggestions and advices will be of great help.
My thanks to Chitra Balasubramaniam, Philippe d'Arschot, A.de
Jong, Jayne Dye, Piero Eduardo, Maria Entrup-Henemann, Adam
Goldsmith, Maja Houtman, Werner Lack, Luis Castelo Lopes, Karen
A. Lottie, Robert Massart, Claudio Morelli, Prof. David N.
Nikogosyan, Les Salvage, Karin Sixl-Daniell and Pierre Strobbe
for their invaluable contributions.
ASCAS is a community of people having a common
interest in antique silver.
It is a non-profit association without commercial links.
Membership is open to whomever has a true interest in
this subject matter.
ASCAS has no real property and no fees are requested nor
accepted from members.
ASCAS keeps in touch with its members only through
periodical newsletters, e-mails and web-site updating
and ignores and is not responsible for any other
activity pursued by its members.
Likewise, ASCAS is not responsible for opinions,
evaluation and images displayed, and in any form
published or supplied for publication, by its members
who, in any case, maintain the property of their works
and assure the respect of national and international
legislation about Intellectual Property.
ASCAS does not have the full addresses of its members (only
town, country and e-mail address are requested for
ASCAS handles and protects with care its members' e-mail
addresses, will not disclose the addresses to third
parties, will use this information only to reply to
requests received from members and for communications
strictly related to its activity.
These rules are expressly accepted by submitting the