Antique 1830s American Silver Spoons Willey & Blaksley
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Directory: Antiques: Decorative Art: Metals: Silver: Coin: Pre 1837 VR: Item # 598490
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According to the Cincinnati Art Museum, which owns work by Willey & Blaksley, the firm was a local business in operation for only a few years (circa 1831 to 1836). Subsequently, silversmith Bushnell Willey entered a different partnership. Thus, this is a rarely seen hallmark, from the period prior to adoption of a sterling standard in America. Whether made from melted coins or not, pieces fashioned before 1865 are called "coin silver". In this case, however, the silver is of very high grade -- apparent in its delicacy -- and the form of the spoons is particularly graceful. While these spoons have certainly been treated with loving care, evidence of long use is plain. There are no repairs, but there are the little dings and other irregularities you'd expect after almost two centuries.
Based on the length and bowl width, they were originally made as dessert spoons -- taller than tea spoons but shorter than table spoons of that era. At 7.25 inches long, with a bowl width of 1.5 inches, the size is equal to what we'd use now for soup and as auxiliary serving spoons for smaller dishes like cranberry sauce.
A scrolling monogram, the letters EH or EM, appears horizontally on the fiddles. This isn't deeply incised and could be polished off by a good jeweler. On reverses, the Willey & Blaksley mark appears within a rectangular cartouche.
BTW, a small (less than 4 inches tall) and very plain coin silver beaker made by Willey & Blaksley in the 1830s recently commanded almost $500 on eBay, which attests to the rarity value of W&B goods.
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