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A HISTORY OF ENGLISH GOLDSMITHS
AND THEIR MARKS STAMPED ON PLATE
Copied in Facsimile from Celebrated Examples; and the Earliest Records
Addresses, and Dates of Entry
Also Historical Accounts of the Goldsmiths' Company and their Hall Marks ;
Bankers; Shop Signs ; A Copious Index, &c. &c.
PRECEDED BY AN INTRODUCTORY ESSAY ON THE
CATALOGUE OF COINS," ETC.
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The former work of the writer, entitled “Hall Marks on Gold and Silver Plate," has been so extensively patronised by the public as to call for six editions since the date of its first appearance in 1863, supplying a most important aid to Amateurs and Collectors of Old Plate, enabling them to ascertain the precise date of manufacture by the sign manual of the Goldsmiths' Company, stamped upon it when sent to be assayed. That it has been generally appreciated is evident from the fact that it is to be found in the hands of every leading Goldsmith in the United Kingdom, as well as Amateurs and Possessors of family plate. The Wardens and Assistants of the Goldsmiths' Company accepted the Dedication of the Fifth Edition of 1876 in a complimentary letter attesting its value.
The price of old plate in the interim has risen enormously, in consequence of its actual date being now easily ascertained. Thus, there is undoubted evidence of the guarantee of three of the stamps, viz.-1. The purity of the several legal standards; 2. The Office where the Assay was made; and 3. The date of manufacture. But the fourth stamp, The maker's mark, remained unexplained ; this consisted of initials occasionally accompanied by a symbol, or varied in such a manner that “ the sign of every Goldsmith be known to the Wardens of the Craft, which said Wardens' duty is to see that the marks are plain and of a fit size and not one like
another.” The author of “ The Touchstone for Gold and Silver Wares ” goes on to say that “these marks are stamped on hardened lead, and right against them in parchment columns are writ and entered the owners' names.” These records were, therefore, in existence at the date of “ The Touchstone” in 1677, but have since disappeared. the only record of that date being the Copper-plate stamped with makers' marks between 1675 and 1697, “ of which no other entry is to be found.” Hence the writer has collected previous makers' marks from pieces of plate preserved to our time, but without any evidence of the names they represented.
Since 1697, the names of only a few of the principal workers have up to this time been identified by occasional references to the Goldsmiths' books. In consequence of the frequent solicitations of Amateurs of Old Plate, the writer has been induced to copy the makers' marks, accompanied by their names and addresses, with the dates of entry at the Hall, literatim et seriatim, from 1697 to the beginning of this century, by the kind permission of the Wardens and Court of Assistants of the Goldsmiths' Company, in which he has been materially assisted by the advice, on all occasions, of Mr. Walter Prideaux, and the obliging attention of the Deputy Warden, Mr. W. Robinson. This information will be useful in fixing dates of manufacture within a few years, where the date letter is erased or illegible, and a verification in the uncertain attribution of a date ; more especially in bringing to light the actual plate-workers whose names have hitherto been unnoticed, and giving credit where it is due.
It is hoped that “ The History of English Goldsmiths,” although consisting merely of notes and capable of much greater development, may interest the general reader, as well as the incidental notices of the Mint, the Regalia, and other subjects in connection more or less with the Goldsmiths' Craft.
Being essentially a book of reference, a copious index of Plate-workers' initials, and their names in full, will enable the inquirer to trace not only their residences and dates of entry at the Hall, but in many instances examples of their work, and the collections where they are to be found.
The names of several kind contributors will be found noticed in the following pages ; but the writer must especially thank Mr. Horatio Stewart, of the firm of Messrs. Hancock & Co., for careful drawings of Hall Marks, including those of the Makers, from specimens which have come under his observation.