Good evening, I have read the posts about coin silver items and marks but still have a question about the technical criteria involved when shopping for and identifying coin silver items vs a “coin look alike” especially when the maker’s marks can’t be translated and the dealer’s tag didn’t give any info or history. When I bought this spoon it was quite dirty and dull so I was just guessing that it might be coin. I bought this spoon at an antique mall and the sales clerk called it pot metal. In my mind I had my doubts and it was a good price if it was coin (not a great price just a good price). I suspected it might be coin based not only on its style but because of the impressed marks on the back and the detailed engraved crest on the front. In my mind I wondered why anyone would spend good money to engrave pot metal (what is that anyway), I questioned whether early 19th century or 18th century metal smiths had a fake silver looking metal or whether someone at a much later time would bother to try to make such an item as a fake. Also the marks on the back had an IY impressed and I recalled that early smiths whose names started with a J used an I for a J. So on a hunch I paid the price (which was not priced for “pot metal”) and began my research. I can’t find the marks so no help there. Based upon the following, can you please provide any points of guidance that will help me better identify this piece and future pieces in my search for early 19th and 18th century silver objects?
Question: How can you identify real period Coin silver vs a later fake/look alike or a piece actually made original to the period but not made in silver at all but some other metal? The fiddle pattern has been made for a very long time.
First: Did silversmiths of the 18th or 19th century make non silver metal spoons/items in the style of coin silver spoons and put 5 impressed pseudohallmarks on them along with a deeply engraved Crest making them look like American Coin silver? If so, what metal was available at that time that would look like this (silver �ish).
(2) Was similar coin silver or non silver items made in other countries and marked with a system of marks?
Does anyone recognize this as a true crest (it appears to be a crowned lion erased) but who may have used that crest is unknown. No motto appears and no personalized monograms. Does anyone recognize this maker or these marks?
A magnet was not attracted to this spoon. This has no signs of “close plate” bubbling and the engraving of the lion crest is deep into the metal. It cleaned up with silver polish and there was plenty of black tarnish left on the rag. It has a smooth buttery feel and looks silver but when held up to other coin silver it is not quite as “bright”. Could it be a lower assay of silver?
This spoon weighs 8oz on my food scale and 11.75 inches long in a fiddle pattern with a bold tail on the back of the spoon. Most coin I have is very light weight but then again this is a large specialized spoon for serving or a “stuffing” spoon? It is pretty rigid. The spoon bowl is 3.75″ long.
One impressed mark looks like “I .Y”. I have found many 18th century makers whose names start with a J used an “I” looking letter, so finding an I.Y was encouraging. However the other marks don’t make sense (they are partially worn).
Marked on back with 5 impressed marks in rectangles or possible squares reading left to right. (1)??? (2) possible D or? (3) 6 pointed star or something with three points on left and 3 on right (4) animal walking left looks like seal as I can’t see legs and long tail (5) I . Y. (these two letters have a period between them but the dot is high in the middle between the I and Y). I have not been able to find any American silver makers IY however I did find a London goldsmith Jas Young 1760-?
Thank you in advance for any info and guidance on this subject.