I recently listed some Reed & Barton silver plated nut picks in my Etsy store which featured a squirrel in the design. In researching this “pattern” I reconfirmed what I have learned previously, nothing is simple.
These nut picks provided an excellent clue which greatly helped in the research…they included the patent date on the back of the handle:
From prior research, I’ve compiled chronological folders containing various design patents by year. So I went to my 1884 folder to see if by chance I happened to have a patent with that date. And ‘lo and behold I did!
The illustration was not that clear. It appeared the floral design coming down the handle was similar but it didn’t look like a “squirrel” at the top of the design.
In his patent design detail, Mr. Jackson states that this design consists “of a smooth or plane surface…a face or mask…and vine”. No squirrel mentioned. This patent was assigned to Reed & Barton.
I needed to find a clearer picture of the design details, and I found it in “Silverplated Flatware” by Tere Hagan:
So there it was, exactly the same floral design (looks like lotus flower and leaves) and fluting at the bottom, the same as on my nut picks. However, instead of a cute little squirrel eating a nut, there was a devilish looking face or mask at the top of the design.
Was this “Italian” pattern a multi-motif pattern?
In looking at other pieces of Reed & Barton’s “Italian” pattern flatware I found that, sure enough, there were variations in the design of the head or mask…most of which had an evil or devilish look.
It appears that my cute little squirrel appeared only on the nut pick. And if a nut crack were manufactured in this pattern, it might be on there as well…haven’t been able to find a nut crack as yet.
I’ve seen certain sites list “Squirrel” as a separate pattern from “Italian”. And on some sites, I see a different pattern year. However, based on the fact that my nut picks have the same patent date as “Italian” and same design (except for the face at the top) I am convinced that “Squirrel” is a variation of the “Italian” pattern.
And there you have it. Cute little fellow….
SORRY THESE NUT PICKS HAVE SOLD! These Reed & Barton nut picks can be found at my Etsy shop here:
However, I do have a silverplate casserole server by Reed & Barton that features a devil mask or face and vines in the design which complements Austin Jackson’s “Italian” pattern beautifully:
This Reed & Barton piece can be found here at my Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/listing/163726379/reed-barton-silver-plate-casserole
And you never know when I might find some more of those squirrel nut picks…so keep looking at my Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/queenofsienna
Another Austin Jackson design that features devil faces is “Renaissance” and you can read about it in my post here: https://queenofsienna.wordpress.com/2013/09/27/the-devil-you-say/