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  • Date:

    1780-81 (made)

  • Credit Line:

    Given by C. B. Farmer

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The records of the very successful London goldsmiths' firm of Garrard for the year 1760 include customer orders for spoons and forks which are described as 'turn'd back'. This is almost certainly a reference to pieces like this, in which the finial turns back or down so that the spoon or fork can be laid on the table with the bowl or tines uppermost (as we would set them on the table today). The fashion for turned back finials probably originated in England, as the style represents a break with the French patterns which English goldsmiths imitated during the second half of the eighteenth century. Consequently this style has come to be known as 'Old English'. The engraved decoration on the edge of the spoon and on the finial is referred to as 'bright-cut', because facets, rather than lines, are cut into the surface of the silver in order to produce a sparkling effect. The technique emerges in goldsmithing around 1770, and reflects improvements in the cutting edges of tools as a result of improvements in the quality of steel production. The bright-cut decoration round the edge of the spoon is referred to now as 'feather edge', but in eighteenth century account books this feature is described as 'laurelling'.

Physical description

Old English pattern with bright cut edge; worn bowl.


1780-81 (made)

Marks and inscriptions

Monogram 'HG' on finial.

On back of stem:
indecipherable maker's mark; lion passant (sterling silver mark); crowned leopard's head (mark of London assay office); worn letter for assay year, possibly 'e' for 1780-81.


Length: 20.5 cm tip of bowl to tip of finial, Weight: 58.5 cm

Object history note

This spoon, together with spoon 301A-1899, were given to the Museum by C. B. Farmer of 164 Fulham Road, South Kensington, and received at the Museum on 3rd January 1899. Nothing is know of their ownership prior to this date.

Descriptive line

Spoon, sterling silver, English (London), possibly 1780-81; maker's mark indecipherable

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Jackson's Silver & Gold Marks of England, Scotland & Ireland, ed. Ian Pickford. Woodbridge: Antique Collectors' Club, 1989. Third edition, revised. ISBN 0907462634
Pickford, Ian. Silver Flatware. English, Irish and Scottish 1660-1980. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Antique Collectors' Club, 1983. ISBN 0907462359
Snodin, Michael. English Silver Spoons. London: Charles Letts, 1974. ISBN 850971101


Sterling silver


Metalwork Collection

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