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.