Name That Pattern!

I’ve been thinking about writing a post on electro plated English flatware for some time now as I have not been able to find one central source of this information. I’ve identified about forty pattern names thus far. These pattern names have come from either catalog pages or advertisements. But I’m at a loss to identify twenty more.

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If you have a catalog page or advertisement containing any of the patterns shown, I would greatly appreciate receiving a photo of or link to that documentation. My email address is queenofsienna@gmail.com

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The following list is really the only information I have regarding these twenty patterns.  The first picture in this post contains images taken from catalogs and the second contains images of actual pieces of flatware.

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Posted in British Silver, English silver, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

W.B.1900

I was recently researching the various backstamps of Williams Bros. Mfg. Co. One of those marks was W.B.1900. I believed this to be a Williams Bros. mark but I hadn’t been successful in finding an advertisement or a catalog from that time which corroborated my belief.  It left an uneasy feeling with me. Sometimes you think you know something. And sometimes you can be very wrong.  I knew this from experience.

As luck would have it, persistence paid off and I found the following article in a 1902 issue of Current Advertising:

1902-current-advertising-vol-12-pg55

The article shown above mentions Wallace Brothers of Wallingford, Connecticut and their advertisement for the “Essex” pattern.  “Essex” was a pattern that had the W.B.1900 backstamp which I believed to be Williams Bros.  Warning bells started to ring.  Elsewhere in this blog I had stated that W.B.1900 was a Williams Bros. mark.  Maybe the Wallace “Essex” pattern was a different pattern than the Williams “Essex” pattern? But then I found this:

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The 1908 Hardware magazine article shown above discusses the Wallace Bros. “Poppy” teaspoon. It states “This is the brand called W.B.1900”. Well, that settled that.  I was wrong about William Bros.; this was a backstamp of Wallace. The 1914 article below on Advertising also discusses this Wallace “Poppy” pattern:

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The little “Essex” spoon I have with “W.B.1900” and “Junket” on the back is not a Williams Bros. spoon as I had thought, but instead Wallace Bros.

img_20170226_070715

This little spoon reminds me of my youth…I ate quite a bit of Junket rennet custard back then. And it doesn’t matter at all to me who made my spoon…I love it!

I have amended my blog post on J. B. Williams and William Bros. Mfg., “Soap to Silver”. And I apologize for providing incorrect information earlier.

Posted in Uncategorized, W.B.1900, Wallace Brothers, Williams Manufacturing, Williams Silver | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Trenton Aesthetics

Looking at the following photo, you might think that these plates with aesthetic patterns were manufactured by Staffordshire potters.

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The cartouche and scroll designs as well as bamboo, birds and flowers all point to the Aesthetic Period in Great Britain during the 1880s.  But surprise!  All three of these plates were made in Trenton, New Jersey.

Trenton had many potteries in the second half of the 19th Century.  The three plates above are samples of pieces produced by Mercer Pottery Co., Burroughs & Mountford Co. and Willets Mfg. Co.

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The plate shown above is by Willets Mfg. Co. and the pattern name is Tropics. It is similar to the patterns of Gildea & Walker (Melbourne), W. H. Grindley (Burmah), Brownhills Pottery (Kioto) and Edge Malkin (Tonquin).

The following illustration is taken from Willets letterhead:

willets

And the following article was taken from the 1888 Illustrated New York publication:

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The example shown above is the Newport pattern by Burroughs & Mountford. The asymetrical design seems to go right off the edge of the plate.

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The above article on Burroughs & Mountford was taken from the 1887 Quarter – Century’s Progress of New Jersey’s Leading Manufacturing Centres.

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The plate shown above is by Mercer Pottery Co. Unfortunately, I do not know the name of the pattern. The following article comes from that same 1887 Quarter – Century’s Progress book:

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I have located a few other aesthetic type patterns manufactured by Trenton potters as follows:

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I always found it curious that while England was known for its beautiful aesthetic pottery, it was the United States that was known for aesthetic designs in silver and silverplate.  It was common for me to pair a Staffordshire plate with American flatware.

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But now, at last, I am able to combine American made dinner plates with appropriate American flatware.  Shown above and below is a fork in the Japanese pattern manufactured by Holmes, Booth & Haydens.  The bamboo on the front of the handle works wonderfully with the Mercer plate.

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Even the back of the Japanese handle works with the cartouches on this plate!

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The picture above shows other aesthetic flatware designs with these plates.  The Mercer plate and some of the aesthetic silverplate shown above are available at my Etsy shop:

http://www.Etsy.com/shop/queenofsienna

Posted in aesthetic, Mercer Pottery New Jersey, Staffordshire, Staffordshire pottery, Trenton NJ, Uncategorized, Willets, Willets Pottery | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Elusive Siren

Being a nut pick nut, there is one pattern that has eluded me for quite some time.  It is the “Siren” made by 1847 Rogers.  The first reference I have to this pattern is in the 1891 Hibbard, Spencer, Bartlett catalog: 1891-hibbard-spencer-bartlett-catalog-pg1018

You’ll notice that they are showing a nut pick for “Assyrian Head” (the second to bottom on the page) but not for “Siren” (fourth from bottom).

The September 11, 1891 issue of “The Tariff Review” featured an advertisement for the pattern: 1891-sept-11-the-tariff-review

And the Youth’s Companion publication offered a berry and nut spoon as a premium in 1894:

1894-the-youths-companion-pg491

The 1896 Busiest House Catalog showed this pattern and the pieces available.  You’ll note there are no nut picks listed.

1896-busiest-house-1892-rogers-cat

What I find interesting are the subtle differences in the woman presented on the meat fork and spoon above. The woman on the fork has a different face, hairstyle, hand placement and bodice than the one on the spoon.  And the woman on the fork has a flowing gown and beautiful bare feet which are absent on the spoon. Following is a comparison of some of the variations of images found on various pieces of “Siren”.

three-variations

The 1897 Youth’s Companion offered nut picks as a premium.

1897-youths-companion

At first I thought these picks were a variation of “Colonnade”:

colonnade

The diagonal lines and beading were similar to “Colonnade”. But then I noticed some design elements to the nut picks being offered by Youth’s Companion that were identical to “Siren”. The woman is missing from the pattern, but the rest of the detail, the diagonal lines, leafy frond, flower and shield shaped cartouche, are all the same.

Following is a photo of the pick:

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nut-picks

I have “Siren” nut picks available here at my Etsy shop:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/490903726/six-1847-rogers-bros-silver-plated-nut

 

Posted in 1847 Rogers, nut pick, Siren, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The Egg Dilemma

One of my earliest childhood memories is being served a soft boiled egg for breakfast with teeny, tiny little pieces of crumbled bacon on it. I don’t know how my mother pulverized that nice crisp bacon to dust almost, but she did.  It was so good.  It had to be, if I’m still thinking of it all these years later.  Here’s a picture of me at the breakfast table:

In My High Chair

In My High Chair

I’ve always enjoyed eggs, whether they be boiled, poached, coddled, baked, fried or in an omelet.  There is something so satisfying about them.

A while ago, I had noticed that in the 1886 Meriden Britannia catalog they showed a spoon labelled “egg or ice cream”:

1886 Meriden Britannia Catalog

1886 Meriden Britannia Catalog

It appeared to be a shorter, smaller version of a teaspoon. 

Then I noticed that the Luther Boardman catalog, circa 1900, indicated that a bar spoon could also be used as an egg spoon.  Now a bar spoon does not have the same shape bowl as a teaspoon.  Instead the bowl flares out and is somewhat flat on the bottom as compared to the rounded point of a teaspoon.  The following illustration is from the Boardman catalog:

L. Boardman Catalog Showing Bar Spoon Illustration

L. Boardman Catalog Showing Bar Spoon Illustration

Following is a page from that catalog which indicates that the 5 1/2 inch bar spoon could also be used as an egg spoon:

Boardman Catalog Page

Boardman Catalog Page

I wondered why the shape of these two “egg spoons” varied so.  I assumed these spoons were to be used to eat a soft boiled egg out of an egg cup.  The photo below shows two egg cups.  The one to the left is the “Yosemite” pattern by T. R. Boote; the other one is the “Garfield” pattern by Wallis Gimson.

Two Aesthetic Period Staffordshire Egg Cups

Two Aesthetic Period Staffordshire Egg Cups

They are both double egg cups, meaning that a single soft boiled egg (still in the shell) would be served in the smaller side. The larger side would be used for mixing add ins like little pieces of ham, mushrooms, scallions, to an egg served out of its shell.

Big End Up

Big End Up

You’ll notice that the Garfield pattern egg cup is larger than the Yosemite.  I’ve read the sometimes larger eggs are served, like perhaps a duck egg.  Perhaps that was the reason the Garfield cup was larger?  Both eggs in the photo above are “large” eggs.  And both are placed in the cup with the narrow end down.  There is considerable discussion online about which is the proper way to serve an egg…narrow end up or big end up.

Small End Up

Small End Up

Personally, I think the egg sits better in the cup with the small end up.  I got to thinking that perhaps the differing egg spoon shapes had something to do with which way the egg was placed in the cup.

Two Egg Spoon Variations

Two Egg Spoon Variations

It makes sense to me that if you are eating an egg with the small end up, you would use the wider bowl bar spoon so you can scoop up every last little bit of egg from the big bottom.  And if you were eating an egg the opposite way, then you would use the teaspoon shape spoon to get into the narrow part of the egg on the bottom.  I have never seen anyone say this, but it seems logical to me.

And once you tap the egg with the side of a knife to crack the shell, you are supposed to insert the edge of the knife into the crack in the shell and remove the top portion of the egg and put it on the plate. You have to be extremely careful doing this as you don’t want tiny little bits of pulverized egg shell to fall into your egg.  

Did they actually make plates, or saucers, specifically for egg cups?  I don’t know.  But you definitely need a plate of some sort under your egg cup for the egg top, the spoon and for the toast.  Oh, and the toast should be cut into strips (called soldiers) small enough that you could dip them into the yoke.  I’m starting to hyperventilate just thinking about this.

Garfield Egg Cup and Small Matching Saucer

Garfield Egg Cup and Small Matching Saucer

The Garfield saucer shown above is small, just about 5 and 1/4 inches.  The indentation in the middle fits the egg cup much better than the larger saucer.

Garfield Breakfast Setting

Garfield Breakfast Setting

Although sterling and silver plated egg spoons were made and widely used, I have since learned that using such utensils should be avoided as the sulfer in the egg reacts with the metal.  So what type of spoon is one to use? 

Hercule Poirot always insisted that his boiled eggs be the exact same size, as if they vary then their cooking times should vary accordingly.

Hercule Inspecting His Boiled Eggs

Hercule Inspecting His Boiled Eggs

And he is correct, the larger egg would not be cooked to the same extent as the smaller.

Measuring His Eggs

Measuring His Eggs

I’m including two articles concerning the eating of the egg. The first is from an 1855 book, “The Illustrated Manners Book”:

1855-The Illustrated Manners Book A Manual Of Good Behavior And Polite Accomplishments Pg 140-41

1855-The Illustrated Manners Book A Manual Of Good Behavior And Polite Accomplishments Pg 140-41

And the following from the 1859 “A Manual of Politeness”:

1859 A Manual of Politeness Comprising the Principles of Etiquette Etc. Pg106-07

1859 A Manual of Politeness Comprising the Principles of Etiquette Etc. Pg 106-07

Sometimes something that should be simple, simply isn’t.

Posted in aesthetic period egg cup, bar spoon egg spoon, eating a boiled egg, egg cup, egg spoon, T. R. Boote Yosemite egg cup, Wallis Gimson Garfield Egg Cup | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

No. 595

When I first saw it I thought it looked so familiar.  I was sure I had seen it before.  But what was it?  Was it a wine cooler or bucket of some sort?

Wine Cooler?

Wine Cooler?

It was copper with what appeared to be silver accents.  There were three dimensional palm fronds on one side and a bird on the opposite side. The band had palm fronds, leaves and a reclining nymph. And the handles looked to me to be tiger heads with rings in their mouths.  An unusual grouping of details but decidely aesthetic in look.

I turned it over and saw there was a round opening in the bottom.  So it was not a wine cooler or bucket.  But then I saw it, “595” and the Meriden Britannia mark. 

595

595

I had a reproduction of the 1886/87 Meriden Britannia catalog.  I have looked through this catalog on many occasions; sometimes to search for a specific item and other times as entertainment.  There were 3200 illustrations within, all beautiful and remarkably detailed. In the Introduction to this reproduction catalog, Edmund P. Hogan states, in part:

“The catalog is illustrated throughout with wood engravings.  These pictures were actually engraved by hand onto the surface of blocks of fine-grained wood.  It required a large measure of artistic ability to render the elaborate and highly embellished patterns so popular in 1886. Meriden Britannia  Co. had its own wood engraving department, in which six or eight men were steadily employed.”

Hopefully No. 595 was in the 1886 catalog. But the problem was the items in the book were not listed in numerical order; they were listed by category like “brides baskets”, “casters”, “napkin rings”, etc.  And I had no clue what this was, so I started flipping through the pages.  And there it was, in the lamp section. It was a lamp base!

Following are some of the pages from the lamp section of the catalog:

Page 215

Page 215

Page 216 had my base, No. 595:

Page 216

Page 216

After “No. 595” it reads, “Enameled Copper Old Silver Mountings, $22.50, Shade Extra”.

Page 217

Page 217

Notice on Page 217 they have an “Extension Lamp”.

Page 218

Page 218

These extension lamps could be used to convert a table lamp into a floor lamp.

Page 219

Page 219

You’ll see on Page 220 below the lamp base on the extension is similar to the lamp on the right side (No. 690) except that the “feet” have been removed.

Page 220

Page 220

It is not easy to find any of these Meriden Britannia lamps these days. The mixed metals of copper and old silver in an aesthetic design are especially pleasing (to me at least).

Bird View

Bird View

Another bird view:

Bird Close-Up

Bird Close-Up

Palm frond up close:

Frond Close Up

Frond Close Up

Tiger close up:

Tiger Close-Up

Tiger Close-Up

The three dimensional palm frond and bird are held on to the sides by nuts:

Inside

Inside

View of the entire bottom:

Bottom

Bottom

Closeup of condition:

Some Wear

Some Wear

This lamp base is listed for sale on my Etsy shop:

Listed on Etsy

Listed on Etsy

Listing link:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/497942057/meriden-britannia-mixed-metal-lamp-base

Now to find the burner and the shade! Hope you found this interesting!

Posted in aesthetic, copper and silver, lamp base, Meriden Britannia, mixed metals, oil lamp | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Wm. Holmes & Maryland Britannia

It’s always interesting to come across an unfamiliar backstamp on a piece of silver. At least for me it is.  And when it’s on a julep strainer, it’s even more interesting as I have a fondness for these bar tools. This strainer has a star cut-out and “Wm. Holmes” marked on the back of the handle. 

Wm. Holmes Julep Strainer

Wm. Holmes Julep Strainer

William Holmes, I learned, was from Baltimore and was in business from 1850 until 1876, having established the Maryland Britannia Gold and Silver Plate Works in that city.  In 1876 his sons, Robert F. and John Henry, succeeded him as Holmes Brothers & Company.  The following 1878 article provides a nice summary of William Holmes’ business.

1878-the-monumental-city-its-past-history-and-present-resources-pg779

1878 “The Monumental City, It’s Past History and Present Resources”  pg779

I located the following ads which show that William Holmes factory was located on Holliday Street with sales rooms first at 12 Bank Lane and then later at 3 North  Charles Street.

Advertisements

Advertisements

The following article from the March 25, 1872 issue of The Baltimore Sun is interesting as it states that William Holmes’ goods were in great demand in the East and North with “a heavy shipment having been made to Meriden, Conn. last week”.

baltimore-sun-march-25-1872-pg4

Baltimore Sun March 25 1872 pg4

From city directories, I discovered that Holmes was a popular name in the metal trades.

City Directories

City Directories

The first directory listing above (from 1853) is confusing for several reasons.  I’ve read that at that time Holmes & Sons were the largest retailers of Britannia Ware (however they were only listed in two directories and I haven’t been able to find any additional information) and the Robert S. Holmes (not Robert F.) turns out to be a hardware company. These two don’t appear to be associated with William Holmes and his family. Obviously, this requires further research. The remainder of the directory entries are related to William Holmes and then Holmes Brothers & Company. In the last listing from 1890-91 you can see there are a number of competing companies.  Following is a Holmes & Sons ad.

1853 Matchetts Balimore Director Page 406

1853 Matchetts Baltimore Director Page 406

Holmes & Sons do not appear in any of the directories that I found after the 1853 date.

The Holmes name appeared in the Catalogue of Articles of the 1851 Annual Exhibition of the Maryland Institute. You’ll note that a 15 year old Thomas Holmes and a 13 year old Winter Holmes are listed.

annual-exhibition-of-the-maryland-institute-1851

Annual Exhibition of the Maryland Institute 1851

The name “Holmes” was a familiar name to silverware manufacturers in the northeast: Holmes & Tuttle; Holmes, Booth & Haydens and Holmes & Edwards were all well known silver manufacturers in the north.  I could find no connection between the Maryland Holmes family and these northern Holmes families.

You might be well aware that there were many individuals with the name “Rogers” involved in silver manufacturing; now we learn that “Holmes” was another name common to this business.

The March issue of the 1893 Jewelers Circular mentions that Holmes Bros. sold their business to Kann & Sons Mfg. and will be employed by that firm.

1893 Jewelers Circular

1893 Jewelers Circular

An interesting side note… that 13 year old Winter Holmes moved to Middletown, Connecticut some time after the civil war.  This leads to speculation that he was involved, perhaps, with Middletown Silver Plate Co.  He died in 1916 and is buried in the Pine Grove Cemetery in Middletown.

This Wm. Holmes julep strainer is available at my Etsy shop:

William Holmes Julep Strainer

William Holmes Julep Strainer

Following is a link to my listing:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/496300245/wm-holmes-silver-plated-star-julep?ref=shop_home_active_1

Posted in Baltimore Maryland MD, bar, bar strainer, bar tool, julep strainer, Maryland Britannia, star julep strainer, William Holmes, Wm. Holmes | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Off On A Tangent

A while back I was searching an unknown pattern on some UK sites.  The flatware had the familiar British registration “kite” mark and that’s what brought me to search the UK sites.  I did discover my pattern name was “Japanese” and I wrote about it in my “Brown and Brothers” post.  But while I was searching through those British sites, I saw some familiar aesthetic patterns. Patterns that were known to be American.  What were they doing with English backstamps? I made notes and saved illustrations to be revisited another day.  And today is that day.

Let’s start with the “Brunswick” pattern because it was one of the early patterns manufactured by American companies, perhaps with its roots in England. The first cut below is from an 1855 catalogue from Joseph H. Adams of New York printed in Spanish. The Sargent & Co. 1874 illustration shows Luther Boardman’s variation. John Round, an English manufacturer, was offering “Brunswick” and “New Brunswick” (next illustration in this post) about the turn of the century. And at the bottom the of the grouping below, the “Brunswick” name was still being used as late as 1910 for an iron spoon.

Brunswick pattern

Brunswick patterns

Below is another version of the “Brunswick” pattern and an illustration of the “Jewel” pattern from a “John Round & Son” catalogue. I’m not aware of an American patent for ‘Jewel”, however the “Simpson, Hall, Miller & Co” mark can be found on  this design. This company did business in Canada and in the 1860s claimed to make products of “Heavy Plated Argentine”. “Argentine” is a name for nickel silver found in flatware catalogues from Great Britain. There is a “Patent Argentine Plate” catalogue from 1873 and John Round used the same wording in their advertisements from 1870’s.

John Round Catalogue

John Round Catalogue

The “Laurel” pattern was patented by Henry W. Hirschfeld in 1878 for Meriden Britannia. It seems to be the most common American pattern found in English catalogues like “Silber & Fleming” or “Buck & Moseley”. Toronto based company “Rice Lewis & Son” offers “Laurel” on their page of “Nevada Silver Spoons and Forks”.  In the next group of illustrations the “Hobbs Hardware” page notes that the spoons are made of an “Argentine Silver Base”. Hobbs was located in London, Canada with a branch office in Birmingham, England. The “Hardware” illustration is from an 1892 ad for the “Toronto Silver Plate Co.”. The “Laurel” pattern can be found with British  hallmarks like “Nevada D&A” (Daniel & Arter), “Roumanian Silver” and “Eureka Silver”. “”products are seen sold by “Wm Duff & Co.” in an 1886 publication.

Laurel pattern

Laurel pattern

The “Eastlake” pattern has an American patent for 1879 though not assigned to any company; the designers George Gill and Edwin Brittin were part of the Bridgeport Silver Co.  George Gill was from England. This pattern is also known as “Lyonnaise”. In my search, I came across a spoon marked “BB” with symbols, possibly for “Barker Brothers”. Canadian catalogues offering this pattern include: “Risley & Kerrigan” and “Hobbs Hardware”. 

Risley & Kerrigan catalogue 1886

Risley & Kerrigan catalogue 1886

Note below “Eastlake” also made of “Argentine Silver”.  The illustration to the right is from an 1892 ad for Toronto Silver Plate Co.

Eastlake pattern

Eastlake pattern

The “Newport” pattern was patented in 1879 by Henry Hirschfeld and assigned to Rogers & Bro. You can find the “Newport” pattern in England marked “Brazilian Silver D&A” (Daniel & Arter). Was there some connection between “Meriden Britannia” and “Daniel & Arter”? “Daniel & Arter” were issued a Canadian trade mark on November 22 1893. Looks like more research – ohhh !!!

Newport pattern

Newport pattern

On the “Wellington” pattern “Daniel & Arter” marks can also be found. “ELECTRIC NEVADA” is an interesting example. This pattern was patented in the United States in 1886 by Charles Casper, but not assigned to any company. I believe he started the “Meriden Silver Plate Co.”, one of a few companies to mark this pattern. Crown Silver possibly of Toronto was another. Meriden Silver also had facilities in Toronto in the 1880s.

Wellington pattern

Wellington pattern

“Albany” has been a popular pattern in England and I believe is being produced today. It was also made by American companies including “International Silver” and “Wallace”. Below it is offered in solid silver in the 1899 “Goldsmiths & Silversmiths Co. catalogue.

Goldsmiths & Silversmiths Co catalogue

Goldsmiths & Silversmiths Co catalogue

Now we are back to where we started with a page from a “John Round & Son” catalogue, featuring “Albany” & “Brunswick”. The “Albany”  pattern is also in the 1898 “Rice Lewis & Son” catalogue without a pattern name, just a number and made by “Thomas Turner & Co.”

 

John Round catalogue

John Round catalogue

Even though I have had English flatware in my Etsy shop this is all new to me. I’m looking for all the help I can get. I would like to do more posts on silver plate patterns from England, however have been unable to find very many books or catalogs on the subject.

 

Posted in Brunswick pattern, Canadian silverplate, Eastlake pattern, England British cutlery, Laurel pattern, UK cutlery, UK flatware | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

My Balangandan

I have what I thought was a coppersmith’s sampler.  It has what looks like pieces of fruit and other items hanging from a holder.  The longer fruit, like the pineapple, is over 5 inches long and the round fruit, like the pomegranate and orange, are 4 inches in diameter. 

Each piece features different designs, showcasing a variety of a coppersmith’s abilities.  I imagined him traveling the countryside, sampler in hand, displaying his handiwork and, hopefully, getting a job here and there.

I displayed this sampler in a large antique copper bowl…a bowl of fruit that didn’t go bad or attract fruit flies.  It certainly was unique. This is what it looked like:

wp-1467039311995.jpg

As those faithful readers of this blog know, I do a considerable amount of research on flatware designs.  I was doing just this, searching “Brazilian silver” when an image caught my eye.  It looked like a smaller version of my coppersmith’s sampler.

When I took a closer look at that image, I was shocked.  It was very similar to my copper fruit and it was called a “pence de balangandan”.  It was a brooch and the design inspiration was traced back to the African slave trade in Brazil in the 17th and 18th century.  My bowl of fruit was really a bowl of balangandan!

Slaves wore these balangandan as good luck charms or amulets. They are also worn prominantly during Carnival. The following image is of Jean-Baptiste Debret’s 1827 painting of a woman street vendor with balangandan hanging from her waist.

1827 Jean-Baptiste Debret "Negra Vendendo Caju"

1827 Jean-Baptiste Debret “Negra Vendendo Caju”

My balangandan were large…they seemed to be larger than those depicted in the painting above.  When spread out, they easily reached 18 inches or more.

My Balangandan Spread Out

My Balangandan Spread Out

I never really looked that closely at the handle.  It had the birds, or parrots, on either side which was traditional to these balangandan.  They were symbolic of Africa on one side and Brazil on the other. The handle was formed in the shape of a ship.

Close-up of Handle

Close-up of Handle

I learned that these larger balangandan were sometimes hung in kitchens or on doors as good luck charms and to ward off evil spirits.

I enjoyed looking at my “fruit” and had it prominantly displayed over the years.  Little did I know that its history was tied to the slave trade in Bolivia. But, as fate would have it, I learned the truth…all because of flatware!

This balangandan is now for sale at my Etsy shop:  www.etsy.com/shop/queenofsienna

 

 

Posted in African slave, amulet, balangandan, Brazilian slavery, carnival, good luck charm, pence de balangandan | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Any way you slice it…

If you follow my “Queenofsienna’s Kitchen Journal” blog, you’ve already read most of the following post.  However, I know there are followers of this blog who might be interested in this topic and I didn’t want them to miss out on this information.  So here goes. The previous owner of this unusual sickle shaped item called it a “bookmark”.  It is just over 10 inches long, has a hollow handle and is relatively heavy.  How could someone possibly think it is a bookmark?  But what is it? wp-1465066353130.jpg The curved blade is beautifully etched on one side. wp-1465066300411.jpg And has a small amount of etching on the reverse. wp-1465066340192.jpg There is a mark, possibly two marks, on the handle. wp-1465066289146.jpg Although difficult to see, the mark shown above is a French mark called a “Minerve”. It depicts a woman’s head and has a “1” at the top right side of the head.  This indicates it is 950 parts of 1000 silver…sterling silver. wp-1465066317649.jpg On the opposite side is what appears to be another mark, possibly a maker’s mark, but I have been unable to identify it. Searching “sickle knife”, “sickle blade” and other sickle related phrases, I found results for aspic knives on the internet.  Some well known American sites were calling this an aspic knife or slice. I wondered how these sickle shaped utensils could be used to cut through aspic.  The blade was not serrated.  How could it cut through pieces of meat?  And how would you hold it to slice?  It just didn’t make sense to me. I knew from experience that although an item might be identified as something by certain people, even by so-called experts, it did not necessarily mean that it was correct.  And if something is identified as a certain thing, other people jump on board, do no other research of their own, and take for granted it is what others are saying it is. What I was looking for was an advertisement, article or catalog page from the time showing that it is an aspic server.  But what I found instead is that it is an “ice cream slice” or, as the French would call it, “serpette a glace”.  The illustration below from an 1898 publication shows a “service a glace” (“glace” translates to “ice cream”). 1898 La Coutellerie Depuis l'Origine Jusqu'à Nos Jours pg676.jpg This sickle shaped slicer was usually sold in a set with a server. 1904 Deutsche Goldschmiede-Zeitung Vol.7 pg100 & ca1915 German catalog.jpg Both illustrations above came from German publications from the early 1900s.  They call this sickle knife an “eissichel”.  “Eis” in German is “ice cream”.  “Eis…sichel”…”ice cream sickle”.  I believe the tip of the blade is placed on the plate on the far side of the ice cream and pulled toward you to slice. L'Orfevrerie d'Ercuis 1911 pg53.jpg The page above is from the 1911 Ercuis catalog. They refer to this as a “serpe a glaces” not “serpette”. I believe that “ette” suffix means “small” or “diminutive”. Meriden Britannia pg49 & 50.jpg And the two ice cream dishes shown above are illustrations from the 1886 Meriden Britannia catalog.  I could seek a brick of ice cream in one of these dishes being cut with a serpette and served with the server. This is evidence (word and illustration) from the time that this is an ice cream slice.  If anyone reading this has written evidence that the “aspic knife” is actually an “aspic knife”, I’d be delighted to see it and will add it to this post. Also, if anyone is familiar with the pattern or manufacturer of my “serpette”, I’d be happy to hear from you as well. This ice cream slice is available for sale here at my Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/listing/398805449/serpette-a-glace-french-950-minerve

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