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Interesting piece of Americana found today!

ashelandasheland Posts: 22,694 ✭✭✭✭✭

So today a friend of mine invites me to ride along and go to some antique stores in the area. The ones closest to my house are kind of lame. They aren't terrible, but I didn't expect to really find anything of interest, I just rode along for something to do.

We go into the first stop, an antique mall, and I see this little spoon in the case. I immediately recognized it as American coin silver from the 1790's period! However, when I looked at the back, in addition to the VERY reasonable price, I see under the sticker a bird! It's a bird back spoon. Anyone who is familiar with American coin will likely know about these, but for those who don't, they made spoons and typically left the bottom of the bowl plain. Usually you'll see wheat, or a shell if anything but the birds are seldom seen.

The silversmith would have a spoon-bowl shaped die to form the bowl shape and the decoration would be carved into the die and struck, kinda like a coin. I date this piece between 1790-1810. Probably made in or around Philadelphia.

Anyway I thought you guys might appreciate seeing this. :) I'm happy to add this to my collection!




FWIW I would have paid $100 for an example like this in this great condition, but was very pleased to see this price tag:

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    AUandAGAUandAG Posts: 24,539 ✭✭✭✭✭

    A lot of things have been made from coin silver......this one is really cool! Thanks for posting.

    bob :)

    Registry: CC lowballs (boblindstrom), bobinvegas1989@yahoo.com
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    BruceSBruceS Posts: 1,350 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Nice find!!!!


    eBay ID-bruceshort978
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    AkbeezAkbeez Posts: 2,689 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I don't get it -- this spoon was made from an early US coin? What does the bird have to do with it?

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    ScarsdaleCoinScarsdaleCoin Posts: 5,188 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November 5, 2017 8:00PM

    .

    Jon Lerner - Scarsdale Coin - www.CoinHelp.com
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    MICHAELDIXONMICHAELDIXON Posts: 6,411 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Very nice!

    Spring National Battlefield Coin Show is September 5-7, 2024 at the Eisenhower Hotel in Gettysburg, PA. WWW.AmericasCoinShows.com
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    mannie graymannie gray Posts: 7,259 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I don't know anything about it but for $6 if you're happy with it (and you seem to have knowledge of these) you can hardly go wrong.

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    CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,557 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Way kewl!!!

    Numismatist. 50 year member ANA. Winner of four ANA Heath Literary Awards; three Wayte and Olga Raymond Literary Awards; Numismatist of the Year Award 2009, and Lifetime Achievement Award 2020. Winner numerous NLG Literary Awards.
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    BLUEJAYWAYBLUEJAYWAY Posts: 8,036 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Good eye and good hunting.

    Successful transactions:Tookybandit. "Everyone is equal, some are more equal than others".
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    1Mike11Mike1 Posts: 4,414 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Interesting. I was at an antique mall a week ago and picked up a spoon. The one pictured sold for $430 and I paid $10. Propeller egg spoon pat 1909. (not my photo)

    "May the silver waves that bear you heavenward be filled with love’s whisperings"

    "A dog breaks your heart only one time and that is when they pass on". Unknown
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    lordmarcovanlordmarcovan Posts: 43,212 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November 6, 2017 1:42AM

    @Akbeez said:
    I don't get it -- this spoon was made from an early US coin? What does the bird have to do with it?

    "Coin silver" in this context refers to the purity (.900 fine), versus Sterling (.925 fine), and others.

    I don't collect silver except for COIN-coins, but for that price, I'd have STARTED a collection, bought that with an extreme quickness, and danced a happy jig, too!

    Put in context, imagine trying to purchase that weight of early Federal US silver coins from the 1790s. How many do you think you would find for SIX BUCKS?

    Hey, Terry- even though that's not an actual coin, I think it's safe to say "you suck" on this one. :)


    Explore collections of lordmarcovan on CollecOnline, management, safe-keeping, sharing and valuation solution for art piece and collectibles.
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    lordmarcovanlordmarcovan Posts: 43,212 ✭✭✭✭✭

    PS- you need to show us the bird.

    No, stop doing that with your middle finger.

    I mean show the bird on the back of the spoon.


    Explore collections of lordmarcovan on CollecOnline, management, safe-keeping, sharing and valuation solution for art piece and collectibles.
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    gonzergonzer Posts: 2,990 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Interesting how the body of the bird resembles (somewhat) the bird's torso on a 1790's era dollar.

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    TreashuntTreashunt Posts: 6,747 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Neat item.
    Thanks for the story

    Frank

    BHNC #203

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    rickoricko Posts: 98,724 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Very interesting... I was not aware of these spoons... looks like another spin around the local antique shops is in order.... doubt I will find a bird spoon, but does not hurt to look. ;) Cheers, RickO

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    bkzoopapabkzoopapa Posts: 177 ✭✭✭

    The hallmark is listed as JOHN OWEN JR. PHil PA Circa1804 to 1840. In 1839 shown as J. Owen & Company

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    blu62vetteblu62vette Posts: 11,901 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Cool find.

    http://www.bluccphotos.com" target="new">BluCC Photos Shows for onsite imaging: Nov Baltimore, FUN, Long Beach http://www.facebook.com/bluccphotos" target="new">BluCC on Facebook
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    gripgrip Posts: 9,962 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The bird looks to be a ...pheasant.Cool find.

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    divecchiadivecchia Posts: 6,528 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Nice score on a great looking early period spoon. :+1::+1:

    Thanks for sharing it.

    Donato

    Hobbyist & Collector (not an investor).
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    RogerBRogerB Posts: 8,852 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Coins were a primary source of silver for local silverware trade. Many advertised their use of coin silver as a way of attesting to the purity of their metal.

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    WinLoseWinWinLoseWin Posts: 1,481 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Are ya gonna dip it? Steel wool works good too. ;)

    "To Be Esteemed Be Useful" - 1792 Birch Cent --- "I personally think we developed language because of our deep need to complain." - Lily Tomlin

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    ashelandasheland Posts: 22,694 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Akbeez Likely they melted Spanish or English coins that would have been circulating at that time.
    They pretty much melted coins or recycled other silverware to make new items.

    Colonial Williamsburg made this video that shows the process well:
    [img]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaqmzKFWDEI[/img]

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    ashelandasheland Posts: 22,694 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks everybody for the comments. :)

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    johnny9434johnny9434 Posts: 27,512 ✭✭✭✭✭

    nice score

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    PRECIOUSMENTALPRECIOUSMENTAL Posts: 961 ✭✭✭✭

    What was the purpose of the propeller spoon?
    I did an I-net search and didn't find any information.
    Never saw one before, @1Mike1 posted a photo and called it an egg spoon.

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    ashelandasheland Posts: 22,694 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Weiss should like this one.

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    PRECIOUSMENTALPRECIOUSMENTAL Posts: 961 ✭✭✭✭

    It's 11 inches long, looks heavy duty.

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    logger7logger7 Posts: 8,084 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Exceptional find, anything from the 1700s now seems ancient.

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    WeissWeiss Posts: 9,935 ✭✭✭✭✭

    It's very, very cool. That bird image is outstanding.

    We are like children who look at print and see a serpent in the last letter but one, and a sword in the last.
    --Severian the Lame
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    cmerlo1cmerlo1 Posts: 7,891 ✭✭✭✭✭

    The bird reminds me of the one on small eagle reverses of the era.

    You Suck! Awarded 6/2008- 1901-O Micro O Morgan, 8/2008- 1878 VAM-123 Morgan, 9/2022 1888-O VAM-1B3 H8 Morgan | Senior Regional Representative- ANACS Coin Grading. Posted opinions on coins are my own, and are not an official ANACS opinion.
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    KkathylKkathyl Posts: 3,762 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Sweet

    Best place to buy !
    Bronze Associate member

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    DCWDCW Posts: 6,975 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'd eat my cereal with this thing every morning while perusing the forums...

    Dead Cat Waltz Exonumia
    "Coin collecting for outcasts..."

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    CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,557 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @1Mike1 said:
    Interesting. I was at an antique mall a week ago and picked up a spoon. The one pictured sold for $430 and I paid $10. Propeller egg spoon pat 1909. (not my photo)

    So, does the propeller spin as you swirl the spoon through liquid?

    Numismatist. 50 year member ANA. Winner of four ANA Heath Literary Awards; three Wayte and Olga Raymond Literary Awards; Numismatist of the Year Award 2009, and Lifetime Achievement Award 2020. Winner numerous NLG Literary Awards.
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    1Mike11Mike1 Posts: 4,414 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Yes the propeller does turn quite easily. As far as I can tell it was meant to be used to blend eggs such as we do when we make scrambled eggs. By the size of the spoon it looks like it would have had to been a deep batch of liquid for it to be practical. Its the first I've ever seen or heard of such a spoon.

    "May the silver waves that bear you heavenward be filled with love’s whisperings"

    "A dog breaks your heart only one time and that is when they pass on". Unknown
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    yosclimberyosclimber Posts: 4,596 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November 7, 2017 12:55AM

    @bkzoopapa said:
    The hallmark is listed as JOHN OWEN JR. PHil PA Circa1804 to 1840. In 1839 shown as J. Owen & Company

    925-1000.com/americansilver_O2.html
    sterlingflatwarefashions.com/Silversmiths/SSO2.html

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    northcoinnorthcoin Posts: 4,987 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @yosclimber said:

    @bkzoopapa said:
    The hallmark is listed as JOHN OWEN JR. PHil PA Circa1804 to 1840. In 1839 shown as J. Owen & Company

    925-1000.com/americansilver_O2.html
    sterlingflatwarefashions.com/Silversmiths/SSO2.html

    So does this bring us closer to the actual date of this spoon? Is 1839 or 1840 the date?

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    yosclimberyosclimber Posts: 4,596 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November 7, 2017 2:48AM

    It appears my second link above is more accurate. John Owen, working 1800-1840 is the range for this hallmark.
    John Owen Jr. had a different hallmark and worked 1822-1828.
    Actually this 1948 book narrows it to 1804-1831:
    https://books.google.com/books?id=8nrTbSTv6SMC&pg=PA100&lpg=PA100&dq=john+owen+silversmith&source=bl&ots=2bNcpU-hn-&sig=yq2BhtvF9Uljs4xbAWiaszKS7nk&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjbwOD6lqzXAhVLzmMKHTRLAmMQ6AEILDAB#v=onepage&q=john%20owen%20silversmith&f=false

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    1630Boston1630Boston Posts: 13,772 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Great spoon and great video @asheland :smile:
    I will finish the video later but it is very informative, thanks :smile:

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    ashelandasheland Posts: 22,694 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Thanks everybody!

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    ashelandasheland Posts: 22,694 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @northcoin said:

    @yosclimber said:

    @bkzoopapa said:
    The hallmark is listed as JOHN OWEN JR. PHil PA Circa1804 to 1840. In 1839 shown as J. Owen & Company

    925-1000.com/americansilver_O2.html
    sterlingflatwarefashions.com/Silversmiths/SSO2.html

    So does this bring us closer to the actual date of this spoon? Is 1839 or 1840 the date?

    The style of this spoon is textbook 1780's to 1790's so I am really unsure if that's the maker. It's slightly possible to be 1800-10, but I'm doubtful.

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    ashelandasheland Posts: 22,694 ✭✭✭✭✭

    If you compare the marks, you can see that they are different. I'm thinking my example is someone else.

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    gripgrip Posts: 9,962 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Maybe same person but punched at different time .Early than later?
    Wild guess.

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    mvs7mvs7 Posts: 1,661 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Nice find! Here on the west coast, I'm lucky to find anything pre WWI in the antique malls.

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    ashelandasheland Posts: 22,694 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November 7, 2017 12:59PM

    Here are some others to see different birds and styles, etc.
    This dealer knows his stuff!

    [cyberattic.com/stores/NorthHill/catalog/query.php?keywords=birdback&srch.x=0&srch.y=0&dealers=NorthHill&view=list&fromtrocadero=2](http://www.cyberattic.com/stores/NorthHill/catalog/query.php?keywords=birdback&srch.x=0&srch.y=0&
    dealers=NorthHill&view=list&fromtrocadero=2 "cyberattic.com/stores/NorthHill/catalog/query.php?keywords=birdback&srch.x=0&srch.y=0&dealers=NorthHill&view=list&fromtrocadero=2")

    (I do not know this dealer, just showing other examples)

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    oih82w8oih82w8 Posts: 11,902 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Looks like one heck-of-a deal!

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    ShamikaShamika Posts: 18,760 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November 7, 2017 2:31PM

    I wonder whose mouth that's been in?

    Buyer and seller of vintage coin boards!
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    ShamikaShamika Posts: 18,760 ✭✭✭✭

    @Shamika said:
    I wonder whose mouth that's been in?

    Then again, maybe I don't want to know.

    Buyer and seller of vintage coin boards!
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    ashelandasheland Posts: 22,694 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I'm guessing George Washington stirred his tea with this very spoon. :D

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    CaptHenwayCaptHenway Posts: 31,557 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @asheland said:
    I'm guessing George Washington stirred his tea with this very spoon. :D

    Was at dinner at an ANA in Pittsburgh with Dave Harper and Wendell Wolka and a few other people when Wendell told a story of visiting Eric P. Newman to research the Indiana banknotes in Eric's collection. When he arrived at Eric's house Eric invited him to tea on the verandah. They had tea and chatted, and as the butler was about to clear the tea service away Eric told Wendell to look at the back of the spoon he had been stirring his tea with. He turned it over and saw the maker's name: BRASHER!

    Numismatist. 50 year member ANA. Winner of four ANA Heath Literary Awards; three Wayte and Olga Raymond Literary Awards; Numismatist of the Year Award 2009, and Lifetime Achievement Award 2020. Winner numerous NLG Literary Awards.
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    ashelandasheland Posts: 22,694 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @CaptHenway I have a spoon by William Hollingshead, he was one of the regulators alongside Brasher.

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