Monday, September 30, 2013

Anatomy Of Antique Identification - Old Nails
Genuinely old nails (pre 20th century) found in antique pieces can be identified by their lack of uniformity. The older nails were furnace-forged up until the start of the 19th Century and then handmade, as a consequence they will be different in shape and size. After 1880 nails became more uniform as mass production took place (when steel works started utilising the Bessemer Furnace production method).

The Rose head nails were roundish-headed and sat proud of the timber's surface, and although round -headed (due to the nature of the nail head's construction) they left a square hole when extricated. Basically they were made from a square rod of iron, heated and then tapered at one end (often only on two sides) by the smith and the other end was flattened to create the head. The most common form was the rosehead; however, broad headed and narrow L-heads also were crafted. L-head nails were popular for fine finish work due to their more delicate head appearance. Later mass-produced nails were formed from wire with a head attached to the other end rather than their being flattened.

Clues For Determining The Age Of A Nail
1.Check existing nails, do their holes or any markings around them seem in keeping and consistent with the current nail? If not then they are probably a later addition, which in itself may not necessarily be a bad thing unless all of the nails are similar.

2. Over time oxidisation can take place and 'bleeding' appears around the nail. Red / brown discolouration around the nails tend to show that a more modern nail is in place- black discolouration shows that the nail is older due to its make up and content. However, the nail should be the same colour as the surrounding discolouration, if not then Lovejoy may have been around!
Further Research on How To Identify Antiques

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Decoding Silver Hallmarks

We often get asked to help in Hallmark Identification and, when we have the time, are happy to oblige.
We will show some of them on the blog and hopefully it will help you in your search or quest for more knowledge.
Mesage From Client:
"I have a Solid Silver case for matches which has a makers name that I cannot find. I have attached pictures of the piece. DSC02799 shows the hall marks.
OM Maker that I cannot identify
Anchor I think is Birmingham
Lion that I believe is after 1850
B or g early 1900’s
Could you help please.

Thanks"



Our Silver Expert's Response:
This piece is a Vesta Case and would have been attached to a gentleman's Albert silver chain (watch chain for waistcoat) thus the small ring at the top of the case to attach the piece.
The piece itself is sterling silver and was assayed in Birmingham in 1906/07 as indicated by the anchor and the date letter 'g.' The maker's letters 'WO' are for William Oxley, a silversmith about whom very little is known. Oxley was first recorded as carrying on business at 118 Mildmay Road, Mildmay Park, Islington, London, N 16, on 6th January 1904 and later at 1 Murton Street, City Road, London EC on 14th February 1906. This latter address was also his private address and it is probable that he only carried on his own business as a silversmith for a very short time. He is recorded as being a stick mounter, which is someone who puts silver collars and similar decorations on walking sticks.
[Acknowledgements: (a) The Directory of Gold & Silversmiths, Jewellery and Allied Trades 1838-1914 by John Culme and (b) Jacksons Hallmarks
In the Features Section of our website we have a selection of Silver Makers Marks and a page on how to identify silver hallmarks for reference purposes.