Hester Bateman Hanoverian spoon?

I always understood Hester Bateman never made any Hanoverian pattern flatware and any such items appearing on the market are just badly researched fakes.

A Sussex silver dealer currently has a “1762 Hester Bateman (early mark)” Hanoverian pattern table spoon for sale.

The spoon shows some firestain and the dealer suggests it may have occurred during some reshaping of the bowl. This immediately made me suspicious.

If it is genuine, then I wouldn’t mind acquiring it, but I’d like some reliable independent advice before potentially making a fool of myself. Would anyone here care to comment on the likelihood of this spoon being genuine?

Hi Argent,
This is a hard question, and one that has sparked a few heated conversations amongst my colleagues.

If Hester ever did make Hanoverian pattern cutlery, it would have certainly been during the early 1760’s, and therefore this would match up with the date. However, in David Shures book on Hester there is no mention of her doing so, and there are comments made as of the validity of her early mark. (It wasn’t that long ago that no dealer would accept any silverware marked before 1774 as authentic Hester Bateman, but nowadays we all accept her early work, and regard the 1761 mark as her first mark.) Actually as a side note to this, the earliest of her marks is just slightly different from her later marks, the B of the 1761 mark is not closed fully at the bottom, so check to make sure this is the case.

The best thing to do is take a look at the spoon, and check the marks for yourself. Look for solder lines around the marks, and check that the marks are deep enough and look in keeping with the rest of the spoon (i.e not too big or small). From this period the spoon should be stem marked, so again check this.

Being from 1762 it could have been Old English pattern originally and modified to Hanoverian, but usually it is Hanoverian that is modified to Old English. (this is because Old English became fashionable after Hanoverian and many owners of Hanoverian simply had the pieces modified to reflect the new taste for Old English).

It is very unlikely that anyone transposed the marks from another piece of silver, as the other piece of silver would probably have been more valuable than a spoon. The marks could have been completely faked, but then why fake a spoon??? Had it been a fork I would have been much more suspicious as Hester Bateman forks are much rarer than spoons and might be worth faking.

You do occasionally see fire staining on pieces of flatware after reshaping, so i would not think that this was a problem.

It is hard for me to tell you anything more without seeing the spoon i’m afraid.

Best regards

A note on stem marked flatware…

Because the stem is quite thin, when it was assayed, the force of the punch distorted the stem, creating a bulge either side of the mark. When the item returned to the silversmith, he would then reshape the stem, hammering the bulges back in. This caused the marks to be distorted. This is perfectly normal on stem marked flatware and should not be considered a problem. However, for a novice collector, the distorted nature of the marks makes it slightly harder to be sure that the marks are authentic.

If you ever encounter a piece of silverware, which is not flatware, with strecthed looking marks, you should be very suspicious. The marks are probably taken from a spoon and set into the piece.

Regards Jonathan

Thank you both very much for your valued replies. If I decide to purchase the spoon, I will let you know how I get on and submit some photos of the spoon.

I think I saw this on eBay at the time. Did you ever purchase it? Photos are great to help others to learn.

I decided not to buy the spoon.