ASCAS Association of Small Collectors of Antique Silver
Members' Window # 107.1
by Christine Erratt
(click on images to enlarge)


At a recent small auction I was fortunate enough to be the only interested bidder in a pair of English berry spoons. The auctioneer's description in the catalogue was inadequate and inaccurate, describing both as Victorian. After examining them and their marks at the preview I rushed home to consult my reference books.

The first spoon was made by Solomon Hougham in the Georgian era and marked London 1801. Nothing particularly unusual about this ornate berry spoon with its gilded bowl. According to most sources, it is considered that many old plain spoons were converted into fancy berry spoons in the Victorian era - a whimsical use, perhaps, for one's old-fashioned flatware.

The second spoon held a hidden delight! The maker's mark, WE in cameo within a bi-lobar lozenge, was easy to identify as that of William Eaton. The assay office - also easy to identify - London - and the date letter 'B' for 1837.

IF I had used only a small reference book for identifying the date, the search would have finished there and then. However, my 'bible', Jackson's Silver & Gold Marks of England, Scotland & Ireland told me more information.

This mark could be narrowed down to have been applied to the spoon between 29 May and 20 June 1837 - a mere 23 days. The last day of the year marking for the William lV era 1836-1837 was 28 May 1837. On 29 May 1837 the lettering for the next 12 months began, with B being used. However, William lV died on 20 June 1837 so a new monarch's head, namely the head of Queen Victoria, had to commence the next day.

My spoon has William lV's head and the year letter B, making it identifiable as fitting into this small window of time.

I suggest that not a particularly great number of silver items would have been hallmarked in this short space of time. Along with its beauty and craftsmanship, it is a bargain that I really appreciate... and delightful to use when serving berries for dessert.
Christine Erratt
- 2014 -