A while back I came across a spoon that had the most intricate aesthetic design that I had ever seen. It was a small spoon, what was called a coffee spoon back in the late 1800s, a demitasse spoon now. It had images of ferns, bamboo, butterflies and fans, both front and back of the handle. Everything a good Aesthetic Period piece of art should have. Because it was such a small spoon and the design was so intricate, you really had to look at it with a magnifying glass or, better yet, a loop. As I looked at the magnified image of the back of the handle, to my surprise I found a British registration mark, called a “kite” mark by some.
I was familiar with these marks. They were often found on the backs of transferware and the “kite” shape British registration mark was used between 1842 and 1883. This was the first time I had seen this mark on a piece of flatware. The following photo shows the mark on my spoon next to a mark on a piece of transferware:
There was no maker’s mark on my spoon, just the registration mark. Even under magnification, it was not easy to read. I have not as yet identified the manufacturer with any certainty. If anyone has information about this pattern, I’d be happy to hear from you. Following are additional photos of the handle design, both front and back:
A round Japonesque style fan dominates the top front of the handle with a bird below it and flora all around.
The front design stretches all the way down the handle to the bowl.
The back of the handle is no less beautiful than the front. There is a fan at the top with a butterfly below it to the left, as well as flowers and bamboo stalks.
Ferns and flowers reach all the way to the back of the bowl.
UPDATE: I believe the kite mark showed the date May 31, 1880. I also believe that the patent could possibly be assigned to William Gallimore and Co.
This pattern has been found in a Joseph Rodgers and Sons catalog circa 1900; they called the pattern “Japanese”. Apparently this pattern was made by various manufacturers:
I have found a couple other pieces to add to my collection:
I’m sure you are wondering what any of this has to do with the subject of this post, Brown and Brothers. Well, one day I saw the image of a Brown & Bros. spoon on the internet and it had a British registration mark on the back of the handle! I had assumed that my little spoon was manufactured in England. Now I discovered that an American manufacturer had obtained a British registration mark and stamped it on his flatware. As my search continued for more Brown & Bros. flatware, I learned that apparently it was the same registration mark being used on multiple designs. I was stumped. Why would that be? And then I found the answer. The British registration was not for the individual pattern, it was for the shape of the handle as it came up from the bowl…a roundish shape that then flattened out as it went further up the handle.
The British registration had been obtained for the design patented by Le Roy S. White in 1876 as follows:
Following is the specification for Patent 9311, showing it was assigned to Brown & Brothers of Waterbury, Connecticut:
I was so impressed with the fact that Brown & Bros. had obtained a British registration mark for the shape of their handles, that I wanted to learn more about them.
Following is a very well written and informative article from an 1896 publication, The Town and City of Waterbury, Connecticut, Vol. 2:
And the last page:
This post would not be complete without discussing Le Roy S. White, the designer of the handle registered in England. Le Roy (sometimes spelled Leroy) was not only an extremely talented designer but also a designer of various articles with both mechanical and electrical applications. He has been discussed several times elsewhere in other posts in this blog. The following comes from the same 1896 publication as referenced above.
Following are a couple of Mr. White’s flatware design patents:
Specification for Patent 8571 (which looks remarkably similar to the “Olive” pattern):
And this 1876 patent:
And the specification:
Following are images of various flatware patterns manufactured by Brown and Brothers:
Following is a bar spoon manufactured by Brown & Bros.:
This spoon doesn’t have the British registration mark:
But the shape of the handle is the same as patented by Le Roy White for which the British registration mark was obtained. This bar spoon is available at my Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/queenofsienna