Sunday, November 4, 2012

Women Silversmiths - Dorothy Langlands of Newcastle

Did you know that there have been women silversmiths for hundreds of years?  

Women have been noted as silversmiths for hundreds of years.  Widows would often continue on the business of their husbands (often placing their maker's mark in a lozenge) and daughters would enter business partnerships with relatives also in the trade.  Dorothy Langlands was a widow who continued business for 10 years after her husbands death.  

For sixty years the Langlands family were the largest manufacturers of silverware in Newcastle, England.  Dorothy Langlands was the wife of John Langlands II and she took over her husband's business in 1804 when he died. She retired in 1814 and died in 1845.  This means we can date all silver marked with her maker's mark (D.L) to 1804-1814.  This is helpful because a lot of smaller silver items would not have been stamped with the date letter.  

Below are two examples of her work.  A nice pair of bright-cut sugar tongs and a set of four Old English pattern teaspoons.  

Sugar Tongs, Dorothy Langlands, 1804-1814

Four Teaspoons, Dorothy Langlands, 1804-1814

Keep an eye out for other work by women silversmiths, it's out there to be found!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Spoon Types - Marrow Scoops

Can you tell me what this is and what it was used for? 

Irish Marrow Scoop, John Shields, Dublin

It’s known as a marrow scoop.  Back in eighteenth century (the earliest example dates from just before then in 1690), the marrow (which is the stuff inside bones) was considered a delicacy.  So they made special spoons just to get at the stuff. Very popular in the 1700s, they became scarcer in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  

Quite large, often around 25cm long, some would have a spoon on one end and the scoop on the other, others, such as this example, had two different sized scoops.  

Keep an eye out for them, especially rare Scottish and Irish examples.  

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Australian Silversmiths - Joachim Matthias Wendt

Australian silver is a lot rarer than its English counterparts. Although produced from the early 1800's, most Australian silver is to be found from the 1880's onwards.  There was no standardised system of hallmarking, but pseudo British marks were often used.  One of the most prolific Australian silversmiths of the second half of the nineteenth century was South Australian, JM Wendt.  

Example One - Wendt Serviette Ring circa 1890

Joachim Matthias Wendt (1830-1917), silversmith, was born on 26 June 1830 in Holstein, Denmark (now part of modern day Germany). He was apprenticed to a watchmaker and learned the silversmith's craft. He migrated to Adelaide in 1854 where he set up as J. M. Wendt, watchmaker and jeweller. The success of his business allowed him to move into a new shop in Rundle Street.
In 1860s and 1870s, Wendt won numerous awards for his work, including first prizes in the Dunedin Exhibition, New Zealand (1864 and 1865) and the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1876.  
Commercial success encouraged him in 1888 to open a further branch at Broken Hill, New South Wales.  
In 1903 his son Julius and stepson Hermann Koeppen-Wendt became partners in the firm and took over its management.  He died on 7 September 1917.
The silverware he produced ranged from large ceremonial pieces through to everyday small domestic items, such as the two serviette rings pictured.

Example Two - Wendt Serviette Ring, circa 1900

His works star in a number of collections of Australian silver (try googling his name to see more).

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Successful day at the auctions!

Some of the purchases from today's auction
Today was spent hunting for bargains at an auction in New Zealand. It seems there were plenty of good buys in the royal doulton items, but the sterling silver this time around was generally too high for a dealer. 

Luckily I'm a collector too so still managed to pick up a few items. The highlights include an Omar Ramsden ladle and a pair of Scottish Provincial (probably Perth) sugar tongs. Stay tuned for some further descriptions and info. :-)

Scottish Provincial Sugar Tongs
Omar Ramsden Ladle