ASCAS Association of Small Collectors of Antique Silvernewsletter # 113 October 2013 SITE MAP
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A new article for ASCAS website

London Assay Office Letters: Cycles 1-2-3-4
David McKinley presents:

The Date Letter on English Hallmarked Silver English version

A date letter first appeared on English silver plate in the year 1697 as a result of legislation. In clause VIII of the Act 8 & 9 William III c.8 which, among other things, deals with the marks that must be applied to assayed plate at Goldsmiths' Hall the following wording is used: " .... and a distinct variable mark to be used by the warden of the said mystery, to denote the year in which such plate is made;..." This legislation remained in place until 1999 in which year the Government adopted European hallmarking practice which does not require that an assayed item of plate must be dated.

A similar system of alphabetical lettering had been used on English assayed plate since 1478 but that this system of lettering gave some date reference to the piece on which it appeared was purely coincidental. In 1423 by the statute 2 Henry VI. c. 13 "The Keeper of The Touch" or "Touch Warden", who was responsible for striking the leopard's head on all plate assayed and found to be of the required standard, became liable to a fine if an article so marked and found to be sub-standard, should come to light. This statute was reinforced by the statute 17 Edward IV. c. 1. which came into force on 16th. January 1478 and although "The Keeper of The Touch" was again mentioned as the responsible warden this time the other wardens were mentioned as well; ".......then for non-sufficiency of the said Keeper and Worker, the persons of the said craft of goldsmiths of the said city of London, by whatsoever name or names they be corporate, shall be chargeable and charged of the forfeitures by like action or actions of debt as is aforesaid in like manner and form as immediately before is specified."...
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New members

Welcome to new ASCAS members:

Mark Edwards - USA
Mary Kay Felton- USA
Maurice Meslans - USA
James Simpson - Scotland UK

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Mail to ASCAS: e-mail

Debbie Rindge writes:
... Please help identify the marks on this 9-1/8 inch long silver salad server.
Some elements of the mark look Dutch, but not all.
What we see is: 1) stylized A, 2) gothic A, 3) gothic B, 4) quadripartite shield, 5) leopard face?, 6) sword.
Thank you,
Debbie Rindge
It's a silverplate item made by Alfred Browett / Browett Ashberry & Co, Birmingham. see my website at
Giorgio Busetto

Daniel Hardy writes:
... I do own a large gold gilt silver twin handled bowl which is embossed with decorative scenes and under the base there are a set of hallmarks. As you will see on the attached photos the hallmarks depict two crowns in a shield, a lion in a shield with a crown above, a capital P with a crown above, a decorative crown with something underneath in a shield? and a capital L with an o above.
From doing my own research these are Dutch silver hallmarks and I know that the lion in the shield with the crown above the shield was marked on silverware of 1st standard and this mark is the province coat of arms of Holland which was used between 1663-1807.
From viewing the hallmarks on my piece of silver if you could advise me your thoughts as to how old this could be and also advise me as to what these other hallmarks mean that would be great!
Kind regards,
Daniel Hardy
I don't know what is the source about the Dutch origin of your cup. I'm unable to identify the marks, but I don't exclude it's a Hanau silver of late 19th century.
Giorgio Busetto

Maurice Meslans writes:
... This spoon is not marked, it looks like a 20th c. souvenir spoon, but it has a lot of patina, and I think it could be much earlier. It is about the size of a sugar spoon, 15.8 cm.
I think it is an anti-papal piece, but I really don't understand what it is saying. The bowl is gilt, there are no marks. Originally I thought it might be German, but subsequently had the metal tested. It turns out to be .925 fine, which would point to Britain or the U.S.A. There is some similarity to the Hunt pattern by Paul Storr, especially the shape of the bowl, and ornate handle.
I should point out a few things in case they are not clear enough in the photos. First the Pope looks like Leo X who headed the Catholic Church during the reformation. The nude Venus I think speaks for itself.
The slightly draped figures on either side of the Pope are actually angels (their wings are visible on the back). They seem to be holding a crown over the Pope, who is already wearing the Papal tiara. Finally someone is sitting in a chair or throne, seems to be comforting someone kneeling at his left. He seems to be sitting in front of some windows, which could be Raphael’s Logia. If I had to guess I would say the piece is early 19th c.
Any suggestion will be appreciated.
Maurice Meslans

Natali L. writes:
... I have one interesting item but I don't know anything about it!
Can you help me?
Natali L.
Your item is a silver and enamel "pomander", possibly Austrian, 2nd half of the 19th century. See my website at
Giorgio Busetto

Roberta Collins writes:
... Love receiving your newsletter and hope I can 'pick your brain' for information as to the purpose of my two chased and pierced handled bowls.
They are marked MJJ which I've identified as MATTHEW JOHN JESSOP, the MJJ mark was registered in 1883; was still in London in 1903....moved to Birmingham? They measure 1 1/2"D x 3”W and 4 3/4"Wide from handle to handle.
Would really appreciate any help you can give.
Thank you.
Roberta Collins
I confirm. The mark belongs to Matthew John Jessop. He was active in London from c. 1880 to 1911.
In my opinion your items had only decorative function and no practical use, as many other objects identified as "bonbon dish", "cake basket" or other similar definition. Don't forget that in this period "novelties" were in great fashion.
Giorgio Busetto

Francois Costes writes:
... Please find attached two photos of an Irish silver bowl.
It weighs 124 g. Height is 65 mm, and diameter at the top is 11 cm.
The inside is gilded. According to two local collectors the piece could have been the waste bowl of a tea set. And given the ornamentation (ribbons and garlands) it could date to the late 18th or the early 19th century.
Three marks are stamped on the bottom:
[1] The first one looks like the coat of arms of Tullamore county (bird with open wings at the top and three flowers of wheels underneath).
[2] The second one is the well-known crowned harp (sterling hallmark for Ireland).
[3] The third one, a crowned C, must be the maker's mark.
The Hibernia mark is missing which indicates that the bowl was not assayed in Dublin.
Can the ASCAS members help me identify the first and third marks?
Thanks again for your excellent work.
Best regards,
Francois Costes
I am doubtful about the Irish origin of these marks. I can't exclude they are pseudo hallmarks of Hanau silver.
By the way: the waste bowl is present in American tea and coffee sets of 19th century, but I don't remember have ever seen an English or Irish waste bowl (while a "harp mark" on Hanau silver would be the first time).
Any suggestion by ASCAS members will be appreciated.
Giorgio Busetto

John Lewis writes:
...I acquired a Tea Set with some puzzling marks (950).
It 'feels' like silver, but am doubtful whether a tea service would have been made with this fineness of silver.
Any help would be appreciated.
John Lewis

Peter Bower writes:
...Many English pistols from c1700-1800 had silver decoration. The butt cap, sideplate, ramrod pipes, and, sometimes, the trigger guard were made of silver, and hallmarked as required.
I am researching so-called 'grotesque' masks commonly found on butt caps of this period.
The three most common masks are attached.
I am aware of Pug masks hallmarked from 1748 through 1816
Faun masks hallmarked from 1745-1791
Green Man masks hallmarked from 1767-1780
There are other 'grotesque' buttcaps, and variations of the 'Green Man' type.
The Pug - type mask first appeared c. 1720, and examples, with unclear marks, exist from 1732, or earlier. I believe the Pug is a symbol of support for the Protestant monarchy, following the selection of the Hanoverian George's for the British throne after the death of Queen Anne. The House of Orange, and the Hanoverians, kept pug dogs. I should, perhaps, add that I have no religious stake in this; I am only interested in the history!
I have two questions for ASCAS members.
First, has anyone seen a pug represented in silver on any piece (gun or non-gun) from the 1715-1780 period? Is there any Protestant symbolism?
Second, has anyone seen a datable example of the pug, the faun, or the Green Man on any silver piece from the 18th century?
Many thanks for your assistance,
Peter Bower

Replies to questions

Charles Deheselle receives answers about his flatware set
(see September 2013 Newsletter)
Karin Sixl-Daniell writes
I am writing with a response to Charles Deheselle's question about the flatware he has.
It was made by Jezler of Schaffhausen (founded in 1822), Switzerland and was made of 800 fineness, as indicated by the mark 0.800 as well as the control mark next to the maker's and numerical fineness mark.
This control mark was in use from 1882-1933.
Karin Sixl-Daniell

Marc Deconinck receives answers about his Jensen pastry spoon
(see September 2013 Newsletter)
Yvonne Barber writes
I checked my identical piece and it is marked design 71. I therefore think it may simply be a typographical error on the 925-1000 site as the design that follows it is also described as number 81.
Yvonne Barber

Rémy Du Pasquier receives a further answer about the makers of his flatware
(see July 2013 Newsletter)
Janjaap Luijt writes
The left marks are by: Frederik Precht from Amsterdam, who worked 1744-1787. The date letter B is most likely the one used in 1761.
Janjaap Luijt


In this column we presents 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 column is published under the kind permission of Giorgio Busetto's website home page

1876 trade card of Elkington & Co
This month ASCAS presents an 1876 trade card of Elkington & Co


Original Patentees of the
Art Workers
in the
Precious and Other Metals
London Liverpool Manchester
Manufactory Birmingham

Elkington & Co. are one of the most important names in English silver and certainly the most important in silver plate. They began life in Birmingham as a company of silversmiths in 1836, and experimented with improving gilding techniques. By 1838 they had discovered and patented a new way to electroplate one metal on to the surface of another. By 1840 production was already underway with silver electroplated wares. The company received financial backing from Josiah Mason in 1842 (renaming the firm Elkington, Mason & Co between 1842 and 1861) and was extremely successful. It introduced electrotyping as a new method of production for silver plated items. Elkington & Co exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851 with enormous success.


In this column we present an abstract from a page of the "What is? Silver Dictionary"
courtesy of home page leave your LIKE on facebook
George II silver brandy saucepan


The brandy saucepan is a small vessel of circular bulbous baluster form bulging towards the bottom. In some cases the bowl is cylindrical.
It has everted rim and a short spout at right angles to the turned wooden or ivory handle pinned to a silver ferrule.
Brandy saucepans rest on a flat bottom and have changed little in form from the Queen Anne period through the mid-19th century.
Those in the early 18th century tend to be smaller, while the latter 18th century are larger, often half pint in capacity....... more




In this column we present marks, information and history of silversmiths and silver manufacturers.
This column is published under the kind permission of Giorgio Busetto's website home page



A business established in Birmingham before 1864 as Grinsell & Bourne.
When the partnership was dissolved (1871), John Grinsell started a new business with his sons (Thomas Bywater Grinsell, James Erazmus Grinsell, Lorenzo Grinsell and Joseph Charles Grinsell) as John Grinsell & Sons.
The firm was active at Victoria Works, 57 Tower Street, St. George's, Birmingham.
Show rooms were opened at 13 Charterhouse Street, Holborn Circus, London and 73 West Nile Street, Glasgow....


In this column we present images and descriptions of Crests and Mottoes of British, Irish and Scottish families as engraved on silver items.
This column is published under the kind permission of Giorgio Busetto's website home page



family crest: EWING

A Scottish family
A demi-lion, in dexter a mullet. The Latin motto is "Audaciter" (boldly).
The crest was found in a silverplate ladle marked Mappin & Webb, Princes Plate

silverplate ladle marked Mappin & Webb, Princes Plate silverplate ladle marked Mappin & Webb, Princes Plate silverplate ladle marked Mappin & Webb, Princes Plate

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Closing our OCTOBER 2013 edition of ASCAS Newsletter I hope you have appreciated its content.
Your comments, suggestions and advice will be of great help.

My thanks to Yvonne Barber, Peter Bower, Roberta Collins, Francois Costes, Daniel Hardy, John Lewis, Janjaap Luijt, David McKinley, Maurice Meslans, Natali L., Debbie Rindge and Karin Sixl-Daniell for their precious 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.
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