ASCAS Association of Small Collectors of Antique Silver         newsletter # 55 - DECEMBER 2008
YOUR GUIDE TO DECEMBER NEWSLETTER: articles    new members    members' window
mail to ASCAS    replies    a page per month     a word per month    a book on my shelf   
contributors to this Newsletter    search engine    silver dictionary (updated)   
disclaimer and privacy policy

2009 ASCAS membership

No fees are requested nor accepted for ASCAS membership.
Members still interested to ASCAS and its activity are invited to send an e-mail to

confirming their 2009 membership (the simplest way is to use the 'reply' button on our December e-mail).
I apologize for this little effort requested to whomever appreciates and supports ASCAS activity.

No action is requested to unsubscribe. Members not confirming their membership will be automatically deleted from the sending of our monthly Newsletter and will be suspended on February 2009.

Giorgio Busetto
ASCAS Secretary

Two new articles for ASCAS website

  Berndorf Alpacca mark 1880-1891
Prof. David N. Nikogosyan from Ireland presents a new article about
Marks of Alpacca and Alpacca-Silver II Products
English version

... In my previous article published in Silver Magazine, I made a detailed study of the marks used for high-quality silver-plated hollowware (with triple-layer silver coating of Alpacca alloy, so-called Alpacca Silber I) issued by the Berndorf metalware factory. This paper is devoted to a brief listing of marks issued on more low-quality items, namely, on pieces made of pure Alpacca alloy, as well as of Alpacca base covered by a double layer of silver (so-called Alpacca Silber II)......

click here English version
  strawberries, leaves and blooms
An explosion of colors in the article presented by Dorothea Burstyn

Gorham's Fleurs des Siècles gift line designed by Jane Hutcheson
English version

... "Blooming beautifully from here to eternity to grow more precious with time?" and "The Gorham Fleurs you will pick will last forever" were the enthusiastic advertising slogans Gorham chose to describe their Fleurs des Siècles gift line. The large selection of flower arrangements, which were produced by Gorham from the early 1970 to mid-1980s contain an amazing variety of flowers, leaves, nuts and berries. Each jeweled metal flower or leaf is handcrafted and hand enameled over gold plate. Looking at these exquisitely arranged bouquets tucked into sterling and gold plated cachepots, authentic reproductions of antique porcelain vases, various baskets or blooming within Murano glass domes, one has no idea of the romantic story behind their creation....

click here English version

New members

Welcome to new ASCAS members:  

H.W.B. Elston - South Africa
Steve Fisher - England UK
Pamela Gustin - USA
Lisa Kichener - USA
Michela Marchetto - Italy
Stefan Miller - England UK
Terence Anthony Morgan - South Wales UK
Kelli Rooney - USA
Graham Stapleton - England UK
Floyd Wiggins - USA
top page - page map

Members' Window # 55

silver kantharos - modern copy detail with Centaur (male) with krater and cherub
Giorgio Busetto presents:

Silver Kantharos from Pompeii
A "Five Ws" Investigation (WHY, WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE) English version

Some time ago Ampelio Vimercati wrote
"I send the photos of two silver "kantharos" I bought about twenty years ago.
They are 14 cm. high, diameter at the top 10.5 cm. (15.5 cm. at handles) and 5 cm. at the base and they weigh 910 and 978 grams respectively.
The Kantharos have no hallmark or maker's mark to indicate their origin and bear only a later fineness mark "800".
Anyway we are in the presence of beautiful artifacts, crafted by a highly skilled silversmith."...      click here English version

Mail to ASCAS: e-mail

Guillaume Bernard writes:
... I need your help to identify the marks of this silver chalice.
Merci d'avance pour votre aide.
Guillaume Bernard
Service de l’Inventaire du Patrimoine
Collectivité Territoriale de Corse
Ajaccio - France
The hallmark of this chalice is Russian and refers to:
Town of Gitomir,
assayer AA = A. Arzhanihov (active 1865-1874)
silversmith AGR (Cyrillic) = not identified
Giorgio Busetto

Ginter Christophe writes:
... Please let me know about the attached Italian mark (from Rome presumably).
What does it means and usage period?
Many thanks in advance.
This mark was used in the Stato Pontificio (Rome - Papal State) from 1815 to 1870 for works of 889/1000 silver fineness.
The maker is Angelo Giannotti, active in Rome from 1824 to 1865.
Your item is a holy water font. I have an image (unfortunately, not of high quality) of a couple of similar holy water fonts (made in Rome) hanging from their wall support holders. These holy water fonts were used in pairs and hung at both sides of the conjugal bed (below left).
A less common example, similar in construction but standing on a base, was presented in the April 2008 Newsletter of Silver Society of Australia (below right: courtesy Patrick Street, SSA)
Giorgio Busetto

Gary Barborin writes:
... I have some silver spoons (I'm not sure they are sterling silver) and I'm unable to identify the maker and their origin. I'd greatly appreciate your help.
Gary Barborin
I'm unable to identify these marks (your spoons are silver plate and not solid silver).
Any help will be welcome
Giorgio Busetto

Fernando Viana writes:
... I have bought this yad in local street market, and only later I decided to search the Internet looking for qualified comments on it.
I now have my doubts about the authenticity of the hallmarks, as I suspect this piece is not so old.
Would you kindly favour me with your comments on the subject?
Thank you so much in anticipation.
Kind regards
Fernando Viana
In my opinion your item isn't ancient Russian silver but a modern reproduction. Obviously this isn't an appraisal but only my thought.
In my website there's a page devoted to Fakes on Russian Silver , but many other "dubious" pieces are available on the web. Below a "selection of ...(pseudo) ancient Russia" pieces with two "new entries": the circumcision clasp and the wedding ring.
... and a wide array of "antique Russia silver yad" proudly exhibited on a street market
Giorgio Busetto

Dave Wnuck writes:
... I am a coin collector and dealer in the US. We recently came across a 1799 silver dollar counterstamped with a hallmark that is unknown to the coin collecting community.
This hallmark was stamped on a 1799 US silver dollar. Based on the wear on the coin, it may have been stamped during the 1810-1850 time period, but that is just a guess.
It was originally purchased in an estate sale in Connecticut. There are towns named Berlin in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maryland and perhaps elsewhere in the USA. It may be the counterstamp of a gunsmith, blacksmith, metalsmith, clockmaker, etc. and not a silversmith. The hallmark may or may not be of US origin.
Any help from your membership would be most appreciated.
Dave Wnuck
I hope that ASCAS readers may supply some information about this overstamped coin
Giorgio Busetto

Robert Massart writes:
... Recently I acquired a silver vesta case but can't trace back the maker. I contacted the local silver museum but the experts do not know the mark either. The experts assume it is Hanau silver.
Do you have an idea?
Hereafter the description of the vesta case: Antique solid silver draw vesta case, probably manufactured in Hanau. The outer sleeve is repoussé with two different scenes on either side, featuring full figures of 18th century styled gentry. The detail in these figures is stunning. On one side it shows a bird hunting scene with two gentlemen firing arrows into the trees with a bow, while behind them in the brushes a man on his knees is kissing a woman. The other side of the body shows an erotic scene of two couples in the bushes. The activity of the first couple leaves nothing to the imagination of the viewer while the second couple, sitting on the ground, is watching the scene. This vesta case was for sure designed as a gentleman’s case.
The gold wash inside the metal drawer is partially worn and the striker is heavily eroded. The silver body is in good condition and shows no damage. The vesta case measures 60mm high, 40mm wide, 12 mm deep and weighs 50 grams. The side of the sleeve is hallmarked with 800 for the silver fineness and the letter "A" surrounded by a semicircle.
Thanks for your advice.
Kind regards,
The taste of this vesta case is typical of Hanau silver. Any suggestion about the mark will be highly appreciated.
Giorgio Busetto

José Luis Muñoz writes:
...I'm unable to identify the marks of this item. Maybe they are Italians. Any idea?
Un cordial saludo
José Luis

The images of these hallmarks are not well readable.
My hypothesis is that these marks are of the Kingdom of Naples (a crown over NAP). Usually this mark has also a three digit date, but I found also an example without the date (beginning of the 19th century).
In this case the silversmith's mark (A.M) may (possibly) belong to Antonio Maddalena (a documented work c. 1809-1823).
This is, obviously, only a faint hypothesis. Any further contribution or correction will be welcome.
Giorgio Busetto

Replies to questions

Stephanie Andersen receive this reply about her mysterious WMF object (see November Newsletter)
Mario Galasso writes:
... The maker is the well known Württembergische Metallwaren Fabrik W.M.F. (its factory was in Mechernich, Rheinland, Germany).
In the antique catalog I own, the object is identified as "eierbechergestell", that is an egg holder. The eggs, hard-boiled or to drink, were placed three by three on the rings, while suitable accommodations on the base contained single egg holders and salt cellars.
The "eierbechergestell" isn't sterling or solid silver but silver plate.
Mario Galasso

Sue Tiffin receives a further reply about her "pip tray" (see October Newsletter)
Pierre Strobbe writes:
... Pipp- tray's are not only to find in Belgium. I have a set of 12 of these made in Germany by J.Bautz in Breslau, Hutschenreuter. Made for an hotel Berliner Hof, Gottbus. We still use them indeed and this may be a Belgium habit: we respect old "tricks"!!!

Mario Galasso supplies further information and corrections about the silver plates of José Luis Muñoz (see November Newsletter)
... "Torretta" is a numerical mark. Genoa became part of the Kingdom of Sardinia in 1815 but the ancient mark was used until 1825. The plate's mark has a date between 1814 and 1819. The mark of the female head with "2" isn't French but a later Kingdom of Italy hallmarking for 900/1000 silver fineness of the period 1873/1934.
About the mark of the silversmith Giuseppe Balbino, may be useful to remark that the information source of Donaver-Dabbene book is Augusto Bargoni, 'Studi Piemontesi', 1976, where the author specifies that the mark belongs "possibly" to Giuseppe Balbino. Moreover, known information about Giuseppe Balbino activity are from 1775 to 1778 (and presumably until 1798) and not 1775-1814.
Mario Galasso

Dave Hill is the author of an interesting article "THE SGARABHAIGH SILVER SIXPENCE" published as article # 73 in ASCAS website. Now Dave writes:
Hello Giorgio,
I am writing to let you know that the Sgarabhaigh Silver Sixpence is now a formal deposit in the National Museum of Scotland having been accepted as a coin of merit by the Senior Numismatic Curator of the museum. It will now be part of the history of Scotland along with its story forever for the reference of the world.
Keep up your good work with the Association, the scope of the website looks very impressive.
Take care.
Kindest regards


In this column we present a page obtained from makers' brochures, books, auction catalogs, advertising or whatever other printed paper related to silver, which 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 a Trade Card of Elizabeth Godfrey, "Goldsmith, Silversmith and Jeweller to His Royal Highness the Duke of Cumberland"
Trade Card of Elizabeth Godfrey
Elizabeth Godfrey, belonged to a Huguenot family and her maiden name was Pantin.
She first married to Abraham Buteux (a Huguenot silversmith). Abraham Buteux presumably died by 1731, when she registered her first mark as Elizabeth Buteux. She carried on the business as a widow until her marriage to Benjamin Godfrey, her journeyman, October 3, 1732. Second mark, as Elizabeth Godfrey, registered June 29, 1741, presumably on Benjamin Godfrey death, and for the next 17 years she ran the family business with a firm hand. Elizabeth Godfrey mark (London, 1752)  
Elizabeth Godfrey mark (London, 1752)
The diamond shaped shield of the mark indicates that she was a widow, following the heraldic practice of enclosing a widow's coat of arms into a diamond shaped shield.
According to some historians, it is she, rather than Hester Bateman, who would be regarded as the pre-eminent woman silversmith of the 18th century. She favoured the rococo style, and many of her pieces equal those of the most famous Huguenot silversmiths of the George II period.
She employed skilled journeymen and was probably a skilled craftswoman in addition to having exceptional taste and style.


In this column we presents an abstract from a page of the "What is? Silver Dictionary"
courtesy of home page
silver reliquary of St. Daria: Bartolomeo Spani, 1538


A reliquary is a container for relics. These may be the physical remains of saints, such as bones, pieces of clothing, or some object associated with saints or other religious figures. The use of reliquaries became an important part of Christian ritual from at least the 4th century. Relics are venerated in the Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and some Anglican Churches. Reliquaries provide a means of protecting and displaying relics. They range in size from simple pendants or rings to coffin-like containers, to very elaborate ossuaries.......


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)

The "book on the shelf" of this month presents:

of the Collection of
formed by
by Frederick W. Fairholt
by T. Richards, 87, Great Queen Street
(London) 1860  
Descriptive Catalogue of the Collection of Antique Silver Plate formed by Albert, Lord Landesborough Descriptive Catalogue of the Collection of Antique Silver Plate formed by Albert, Lord Landesborough


Closing our DECEMBER 2008 edition of ASCAS Newsletter I hope you have appreciated its content.
Your comments, suggestions and advice will be of great help.

My thanks to Gary Barborin, Guillaume Bernard, Dorothea Burstyn, Jayne Dye, Mario Galasso Christophe Ginter, Dave Hill, Robert Massart, José Luis Muñoz, Prof. David N. Nikogosyan, Pierre Strobbe, Fernando Viana, Ampelio Vimercati, JoAnne Wilkinson, Dave Wnuck, for their invaluable contributions.

Giorgio Busetto
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 membership).
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 membership request.