of Small Collectors
Members' Window # 7
by Giorgio Busetto from an idea of Fred Sinfield

click on images to enlarge


Fred Sinfield writes:
The opportunity to purchase a reasonably sized piece of antique silver at a leading auction house's general goods auction is rare.
As their rooms are nearby it is a good excuse to walk the dog and see if anything of interest is coming up. One item caught my eye so upon returning home out with the reference books to try to trace the maker – but to no avail.
Acquired the piece as I had expected competition but I was the only one willing to take the chance that it was identifiable. With the bowl and a pile of auction catalogues, the long process of thumbing through these eventually proved successful.
Had to go back to a Sotheby's New York “Sale of Important English and Continental Silver.” of 19th April 1991. The illustrated description of Lot 42 and the bowl next to me was very similar to “An Important Silver Oval Sugar Bowl, North Italian, Third Quarter 18th Century, Probably Modena, of lobed and fluted oval form, the rim applied with eight cast openwork cartouche-shaped spoon holders, conforming pedestal foot, marked on the base rim with an eagle an a ? a lion holding a shield, 10ozs, length 16.5cm.” that realised $1650+.
The main differences between the two bowls being four spoon holders, 13.5cms and weighing 225grams.
The maker “MG' was traced to Mark 821 in “Il Marchi dell'Argenteria Italiana.”
The other mark on the base is probably the Town Mark of Venice as illustrated in Marc Rosenberg “Der Goldschmiede Merkzeichen. VI Band.” Mark 7485.
Might any reader know the style of the spoons that would have accompanied the bowl?
Fred Sinfield.
lobed and fluted 
sugar bowl
Venice, 2nd half 
of 18th century
Sotheby's New York, 19th April 1991
Important Oval Sugar Bowl, North Italian, Third Quarter 18th Century

Venetian silver
sugar bowl Venetian silver
sugar bowlVenetian silver
sugar bowl

Venetian silver
sugar bowl
spoon holder Venetian silver
sugar bowl
spoon holder

silver sugar bowl with four spoon holders

assayer's mark MG
Venice, unidentified
sugar bowl marks

The idea of Fred Sinfield is correct. The silver sugar bowl was made in Venice in the second half of 18th century.
The 'lion' is the mark of the ancient Repubblica di Venezia (Republic of Venice - Italy) and represents a winged lion's head holding a Gospel.
'The lion' is the emblem on Venice flag representing the symbol of its Patron, St. Mark Evangelist, It holds a Gospel (not a shield) with a latin inscription PAX TIBI MARCE EVANGELISTA MEUS (Peace to Mark, My Evangelist).

The mark M G isn't a maker's mark but the assayer's mark ('Toccador' or 'Sazador in Zecca'). There are many silver pieces with this mark (sugar bowl, coffee pot, ,,,,) but the assayer is unidentified.

The sugar spoons had a shape very similar to English 'fiddle thread' and the use of this style went on in 19th century.

Giorgio Busetto - 2004 -