ASCAS Association of Small Collectors of Antique Silver
Members' Window # 89  
by Joanne and Emmett Eldred       if you like this page, support ASCAS clicking on the +1 button of google    
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The following is the fourth in a series of papers, which discuss several of the criteria we use in evaluating pieces we collect. These discussions will highlight our approach when considering form, originality of teapot and stand combinations, engraving, hallmarks, condition, and crests & coats-of-arms. In most cases we have used pictures from our modest but growing collection to illustrate what is being described.

As is the case with collecting almost anything, the initial learning curve can be quite steep. Being fairly new to the subject it certainly applied to us. Our initial screen involved only two basic areas; form and hallmarks. Our assessment of form was subjective and based solely on our personal tastes at the time. Of course having seen only a few examples we did not have a broad reference base and therefore were unaware of the variety of designs produced during the later part of the 18th century. Our second screen was centered on hallmarks. As noted earlier, one advantage in collecting English silver is its hallmarking system. Fortunately we were able to locate several excellent Websites for researching hallmarks, especially maker's marks. Looking back on things we were very lucky with the majority of our early purchases. We could have made some costly mistakes because we did not realize that several other key factors, such as crispness of the engraving, absence of repairs, surface patina, presence of an identifiable coat-of-arms or crest, etc., significantly contributed to the desirability and therefore the value of a set.

Over time we became more knowledgeable and ultimately developed a pretty rigorous set of criteria for evaluating pieces we were interested in purchasing. Our approach currently involves a number of assessments (form, originality, engraving, hallmarks, condition, crest), which we will describe over a series of articles.


Typically the hallmarks on the bottom of teapots are distributed while those on the bottom of stands are in a row. There are a few examples where this format was not followed. However, we feel it is important to check out teapots where the touch-marks are in a row since it is possible to cut out a section in the bottom and solder in a fragment with hallmarks obtained from a small item like a spoon. It is interesting that the orientation of the maker's mark can be the same as the assay office hallmarks or inverted. During this period the silversmith applied his hallmark and then sent the piece to the assayer's office for addition of their stamps and entry into their ledger for payment of required taxes. It is fairly unusual to see different orientations of the assayer's hallmarks, especially on stands where they are all in a row (it appears that the assay office used a holder to impress all their hallmarks at once.) There is usually a well defined area of scraping (usually an area of lighter color), which was done at the assay office to test the purity of the silver.
Bottom of Chawner stand showing assay scrapings (light colored area) Bottom of Chawner stand showing assay scrapings (light colored area)
Bottom of Chawner stands showing assay scrapings (light colored area)
Our experience to date has suggested that counterfeit marks appear to be fairly rare on teapots and stands of this period. This might well be due to their relatively low value as compared to earlier of more elaborate English silver. However as sets steadily increase in value this could become a problem in the future -- but even then it most likely will be of greatest concern when dealing with pieces by well-known and highly collectable makers like Hester Bateman.

Some sample hallmarks on original teapots and stand combinations.
Chawner; same orientation Chawner; inverted on teapot Robert & David Hennell; inverted on teapot
Chawner; same orientation
same orientation
Chawner; inverted on teapot
inverted on teapot
Robert & David Hennell; inverted on teapot
Robert & David Hennell:
inverted on teapot
Peter and Ann Bateman; inverted on stand Peter and Ann Bateman; inverted on stand
Peter and Ann Bateman; inverted on stand
Joanne and Emmett Eldred
- 2011 -